DEMI LOVATO ANNOUNCED last May that she was then identifying as nonbinary, which meant the singer’s pronouns would change to “they/them.” On August 2, 2022, Lovato announced she was changing her pronouns back to “she/her” because she’s “been feeling more feminine again.” Although she she has simply added to her list of preferences rather t han made a complete reverseal of her decision last year, her Instagram still shows her pronouns as “they/them/she/her.” Lovato also encourages people to give some slack to those who may fail to use preferred pronouns correctly, saying: “It’s all about respect [and]nobody’s perfect.”
While Lovato’s change might be confusing for some people, it actually shows us a wonderful example of the human experience and how our identities can change. Identity is very fluid, and Lovato shows us that it’s okay to change and evolve. Many LGBT people are afraid to formally change how they identify because traditionally people have held a negative view of being unconventional.
Living life with an identity you don’t align with only to satisfy the comfort and preference of others can be extremely challenging. Often, nonbinary people on this introspective journey are all by themselves, without anyone to discuss their thoughts and feelings about their evolving identity. Our society has learned how to accept people who change their identity, but only up to a point.
When people begin to change how they identify for a second or third time, it creates a lot of confusion, and the hard-won tolerance for identity change may begin to erode. However, with Lovato living “as loudly as she can,” the level of acceptance is increasing, and she has helped establsih an example people can understand.
Our identities are made up of several aspects, some of which were thought to be fixed but no longer are. In Lovato’s case, how she identifies her gender is what has evolved. By coming out as nonbinary last year, identifying as “they/them,” and updating us on her preferred pronouns this year to include “she/her,” Lovato has shown us how identity can evolve. In 2021, she told us her masculinity and feminity were equal; this year, she tells us she feels her feminitity more prominently. The reasons for this are personal – as they should be – but what matters is the change.
What’s even m ore prevalent is how Lovato’s health has improved since she accepted the fluidity of her gender identity. In her coming out story, Lovato shared how her “2018 overdose was caused by ignoring [their]truth.” While explaining how identifying as nonbinary enabled her to be more authentically herself, Locato also told us that she was still discovering who she is. Many people want to focus on the singular change of Locato’s identity from cis female to a “they/them” nonbinary, but what makes her/their journey such an inspiration is how it shows us that our identities are open to change and continuous adaptation.
This phenomenon is not to be confused with the notion that nonbinary people don’t know what they want. Nonbinary people become so attuned to their inner self that they can manifest a feminine or masculine self based on the values and traits that are most important to them, rather than than adhering strictly to cultural standards. Nonbinary people want to form their identity and want to be see for the things most important to them, whether that be strength, wisdom, compassion, rigidness, elegance, or any other trait or principle.
Demi Lovato sharing her journey of self-discovery with the world is much like how the runway magazine in The Devil Wears Prada inspired Stanley Tucci’s character, Nigel, to go to sewing class instead of soccer practice. When he raises a copy in the air saying, “This is not just a magazine, this is a shining beacon of hope,” this is what Lovato is for nonbinary people. Her journey, and her bravery for sharing it publically, is a shining beacon to all queer people whose identities are still being discovered and still evolving.
It’s easy to fall into the trap that the only reason Lovato is seen as inspirational for this act is due to her success as a singer, but this isn’t the case. She’s an inspiration because, despite all the challenges she’s been through with mental health issues and drug addiction, she still found herself and her identity and truth. Of course, she had help from therapists and support systems, but taking responsibility for her own identity enabled them to havea part to play in her journey towards finding her true self.
Kollyn Conrad is the founder and Executive Director of Publicly Private, a nonprofit organization offering supplies, support and empowerment to the LGBTQIA+ community. Publicly Private was inspired from Conrad’s personal journey of growing up as a gay man in the south. He was always passionate about helping and befriending underserved individuals, so he combined his passion and his experience to create Publicly Private and aid LGBTQIA+ individuals in their lifelong journey.