LGBTQ+ musicians you need to know about – Katy Rose Bennett (Ep.04)

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Introduction to the series

Welcome to a new series on Proudly dedicated to showcasing the amazing array of talented LGBTQ+ artists in the music industry today.

Each article we will be sharing a new singer who has reached out to us who we feel our readers will relate to and will hopefully love their music. 

Music as a whole can be subjective and is the most diverse artistry in the world. So we are going to bring you a variety of different artists from all different backgrounds, music genres and stories. We have already shared the stories of a variety of LGBTQ+ musicians such as Long Rainey, IAMREBELWILL and Miss Christine.

Our fourth music artist is the stunning singer Katy Rose Bennett who’s music fits loosely in to the genre of Americana-tinged folk. Katy spoke with Proudly all about her new album that will be released on Friday 30th October.

This is Katy’s 6th solo album and is titled: Where Does It Hurt? An Introduction to Katy Rose Bennett’. We urge all our readers to go give Katy’s music a listen as you can find her music collections across all music streaming platforms.

Proudly were honoured to have sat down with the Birmingham based folk singer and discuss everything from music to sexuality. Here is everything you need to know about the artist behind the lyrics.

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Introducing Katy Rose Bennett

Katy Rose Bennett has been writing and performing her idiosyncratic brand of Americana-tinged folk for over 20 years.

In this article proudly will be discussing with Katy about big moments in her career, the highs and lows and telling our readers all about what they can expect from her new album.

On October 2020 Katy will release her 6th solo album: ‘Where Does It Hurt? An Introduction to Katy Rose Bennett’.

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Katy’s early life

Whilst growing up Katy took a keen interest in music especially in folk. Katy would always listen to songs her father or brothers would play and she Idolised singers such as K.D Lang, The Beatles, Patsy Cline, The Band and her all-time favourite is Gillian Welch. This is somebody who Katy regards as an Americana singer who she emulates her own musical style from.

Katy has been a songwriter since 12 years of age. In the early 2000s Katy took her first big steps into the music industry when she became a finalist in the BBC Young Folk Award, performed on the main stage at Truck Festival, played at SXSW festival in Austin, Texas and released her debut album, All Calm In Dreamland.

But then, aged 20, it all went a bit sideways – Katy’s mental health suddenly declined with the start of a cycle of brief manic episodes followed by seemingly endless months of silent depression, which continued for several years.

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The effects of university

Whilst Katy was studying for her music degree these mental illnesses heightened and was one of her most difficult times in her life. During that time society weren’t as aware or were not quite so open about mental illness and was often referred to as a nervous breakdown.

Alongside suffering in silence from an intense mental health illness during her time at university, this was where Katy battled with accepting her sexuality. Coming out as lesbian during her second year at Birmingham University, only then Katy could really begin to live her truth.

During these turbulent years, Katy wrote and recorded her second album, the aptly titled ‘Bluebird’ receiving glowing reviews, performing across the UK and again almost reaching that next level of success. However, her fragile mental health continued to hamper her career and confidence.

“One thing I remember so clearly was that, even though I could sometimes barely string a sentence together, I could still perform and sing every word of my songs.”

– Katy on how bad her anxiety was in public situations but could still perform her songs on any stage in front of packed out crowds.

After finishing her degree, and with her mental health improving, she continued to write, perform and record which lead to her third album ‘The Rich and Varied Indelible Ink’ in 2009. Katy then trained as a music therapist, started running community choirs, bought a house and became a parent whilst living in Birmingham.

During this time is where Katy recorded her 4th album, the joyful and tender Songs of The River Rea (2016) inspired by life alongside Birmingham’s hidden river.

This was really the biggest turning point for Katy as she could once again focus on her music and follow her passion with no setbacks. Except it wasn’t.

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Katy’s battle with Functional Neurological Disorder

A year later, Katy’s life imploded with the sudden onset of a bizarre and little understood condition, Functional Neurological Disorder. In Katy’s case, it caused her legs to stop functioning properly for significant periods of time, causing her to be often unable to walk. It changed everything.

Katy quit her job as a music therapist and she found herself living with a friend for a peppercorn rent in a dilapidated, Victorian park keeper’s lodge in the centre of Birmingham. 

“It was a strange time. In some ways the hardest period of my life, and yet also one of the most musically fruitful. I must have written nearly fifty songs in the year I lived there.”

– Katy on what it was like being diagnosed with Functional Neurological Disorder and how it affected her.

With some of those songs, Katy released her 5th solo album, the raw and emotional ‘The Meantime’ in 2019, recorded live and mostly in first takes in Bristol with her friend Jim Cornick of Ersatz. What Katy realised was that, for her, writing songs and being a creative artist are not occasional hobbies. 

“They are my reasons for being and my purpose in life. Connecting people through song is what I Iive for!”

– Katy describing her passion for music
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What does the future hold for Katy?

2020 has been a very difficult year for everybody around the world due to coronavirus changing our lifestyles completely. This period has been especially painful for music artists like Katy who have missed performing on stage. Although things seem to be looking up for Katy.

Alongside the release of the new album, which comprises of eight of Katy’s favourite songs from her considerable back-catalogue and two new songs that were recorded during the UK lockdown (Where Does it Hurt, When I Close my Eyes. We urge our readers to follow Katy’s social media pages as Katy has been promoting her 6th album across all her social media pages recently in the build up to its release. Especially today, Katy’s followers were blessed with a fun contest to win some memorabilia of hers including a signed latest album and the winner reveal video was truly remarkable, our viewers can see it for themselves here.

Katy will also be touring the UK for her new album when it is suitable to do so. This is something Katy is really looking forward to doing again who spoke with us about what she considers her biggest career highlights.

“The things I love most of being a musicians is playing music with other musicians live on stage in front of an audience”

– Katy discussing her excitement of returning to the stage and performing her new album
Katy’s career highlights

Fans of Katy can expect to see some amazing videos shot by Katy during lockdown who described it as a passion for to be creative and express her musical self.

Katy will also be working with theatre-maker Francesca Millican-Slater to develop a music, song, story-telling and spoken word solo piece about her and others’ experiences of Functional Neurological Disorder.

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Overview

Proudly are delighted to have spoken with Katy and being able to share her story on our platform.

Our readers are now aware of Katy’s journey and extraordinary life experiences but now it’s time for her next chapter. On Friday 30th October 2020 we will see the release of Katy’s long awaited 6th album. We urge all of our readers to mark that date and explore the discography of the incredibly talented Katy Rose Bennett.

‘Where Does It Hurt? An Introduction to Katy Rose Bennett’ out this Friday.

Katy’s 6th album cover.
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Katy Rose Bennetts Socials

Our readers can stay up to date with everything Katy by viewing her social media pages below.

LGBTQ+ influencers making strides in the media – Jon Lee-Olsen (EP.12)

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Welcome to a series on Proudly dedicated to sharing the stories from a variety of influential LGBTQ+ content creators who come from all different backgrounds within the media. This series will enable us to showcase their achievements and experiences within the industry and give the advice to inspire future content creators from the LGBTQ+ community. 

Proudly wants to shine a light on the people who have made strides in a very competitive industry. Hopefully, this series is the start of something special for Proudly where we have been lucky enough to interview inspiring people such as Matt Horwood, Joe Wilmot, A Gay and A NonGay podcast hosts James Barr and Dan Hudson , Jon Holmes, Amazin LêThi, Benjamin Cohen and Kaylee Golding who have shared their incredible stories with us already.

Today’s article is dedicated to our latest LGBTQ+ influencer. Jon Lee-Olsen is a Danish hockey star and is only the third male professional hockey player (Lars Peter Karlsson of Sweden and Brendan Burke of Canada) in history to come out as gay and was the first Out Asian EU athlete.

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Introducing Jon Lee-Olsen

Jon Lee-Olsen is a professional hockey player in his native country Denmark.

Born in Gentofte, Denmark in June 1992, Jon Lee-Olsen has played hockey competitively since he was eight years old and professionally now for eight years. Hockey seems to be a family passion in the Lee-Olsen household too as Jon’s older brother Morten Lee-Olsen is also a professional hockey player.

Although breaking into the professional sport was nowhere near as difficult it was for Jon in August last year when he broke the silence about his sexuality.

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Coming out in professional sports

Jon is only the third professional hockey player to come out as gay (Lars Peter Karlsson of Sweden and Brendan Burke of Canada) and was the first Out Asian EU athlete.

This news rocked the hockey world not only in Denmark but worldwide as Jon’s inspiring story caught the eyes of the biggest LGBTQ+ publications. Proudly is honoured to have spoken with Jon Lee-Olsen about his coming out experience, not only being a trailblazer but what it was like to become a role-model for many future LGBTQ+ athletes.

Although it did take a couple of years before Jon made his sexuality public. Speaking with Proudly about when he first questioned his sexuality Jon was still playing hockey in Sweden trying to get the break professionally.

‘I was thinking that maybe it isn’t such a great idea to come out as it could possibly screw up my career if people knew”

– Jon Lee-Olsen talks about the troubles he had dealing with his sexuality and fear of it affecting his career

Jon was somebody who liked to keep his life private and their was a clear divide between his life in sport and his personal life. Having a boyfriend during this time, Jon was awaiting the ‘right environment‘ for him to make his sexuality public.

Although before the official announcement was made, Jon already came out to everybody in his personal life including his team-mates at the start of the season in their official WhatsApp group.

After seven years in the making Jon’s announcement was officially made during a live interview with Danish news programme Go’ aften in August 2019. The programme gave Jon the platform and total freedom to address his story the way he wanted to. This segment was truly powerful and even then, Jon could never have expected the global impact his coming out story had.

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Global impact since coming out as gay

At that time, nobody else’s coming out story had a similar impact to Jon’s especially in Denmark. As soon as the announcement was made it was not long before the media took a keen interest in Jon’s story. Appearing in Attitude, Gay Times, Instinct and Queerty Jon gained the attention of media all around the world who were inspired by his bravery and wanted to share his story.

“The only person I could look to was the Swedish footballer (Anton Hysén) in the second division who came out and his story went pretty big and I thought it could happen to me too, but was I ready for that”

– Jon Lee-Olsen on who he took inspiration from before coming out

Thankfully Jon decided he was finished with hiding his sexuality in the public eye and was ready to come out. Within the first three days Jon’s story was known worldwide and he was flooded with over 300 messages within the first week of people reaching out, sharing their stories and talking about how inspiring Jon is. Although it was always about being true to himself for Jon and was never about the fame. This is why he only responded to specific media attention and only focused on this news for the first two weeks before putting his career as a priority focus once again.

That was only the beginning for Jon as he currently uses his platform to positively contribute towards the LGBTQ+ community. Most recently Jon was nominated for the Danish Rainbow Awards and has never looked back since.

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Battling discrimination in sports

Proudly asked if Jon has ever faced discrimination within sports which is sadly a common trend within male professional sports. Thankfully Jon has not received any hurtful comments or abuse because of his sexuality.

Although Jon had fears of being discriminated in the past due to his race. With a fear of people looking at him in a different way because of his race, he felt he was an easy target to pick on. Similar with his height, Jon believed it may put him at a disadvantage in hockey as he is a goalie. Once Jon grew older he knew these pressures were more internal and has never held him back.

Thankfully Jon has never missed out on any opportunities in his career due to his race or sexuality. This sadly is not always the case though as discrimination is a reality many sportsmen in the professional game face and is a contributor to why there is a lack of LGBTQ+ representation within sport.

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Why does male sport struggle with LGBTQ+ representation?

This is why Proudly asked Jon for his perception on LGBTQ+ representation in men’s sport.

Playing competitive hockey for his entire life, Jon knows all about the pressures people face and how competition can bring the worst out of people. With fights a regular occurrence in the game, there would be no real shock to see people being aggressive and harassing rival players.

Once again Jon fears he could be an easy target but thankfully has not had to endure any trouble within the hockey community from the committee to the rival players they have all supported Jon’s sexuality and have publicly praising him for his bravery and honesty.

This sort of astounding support is sadly a rarity within male professional sports. Here in the UK our number one sport is Football and there is currently no active professional footballer across Europe’s top five leagues who has come out as gay, alongside this there has been over 4,000 Premier League players since its origin and not a single person is gay.

This is different for the women’s variation off the game as statistics show that in last years Women’s World Cup there were around 31 female players or coaches who are openly gay or bisexual in comparison to the men’s World Cup that had zero LGBTQ+ representation in any of the nation squads or coaching staff.

Sadly Proudly believes that the men’s game is behind the women’s due to a certain percentage of people who still believe in the ‘old-fashioned’ ways. Sport has evolved massively over the time but sadly not everybody’s perceptions have. Locker room banter is not only just that sometimes, Jon discussed how he still has to correct some people when making jokes or remarks that can be misconstrued and harmful.

‘The word faggot is a word that has been thrown out especially within hockey and sports in general in Denmark, even before I came out when I heard these remarks it could really effect my day and my performance because of it.’

– Jon Lee-Olsen on how homophobic remarks in sports can be harmful

Thankfully within sports all across the world there is a pride week or a campaign put in place to recognise LGBTQ+ representation within sports from the fanbase to the squad everybody should be treated equal and accepted no matter their sexuality.

Although Jon urges people to realise this doesn’t just happen once a week, these stories last a lifetime. We must evolve our old-fashioned beliefs and see the bigger picture. ‘Sport is for everybody so everybody should be able to express themselves in sport too.’

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Jon Lee-Olsen’s advice for future generations of LGBTQ+ Athletes?

Lastly, Proudly like to ask all our influencers if they could give one bit of advice to the future generations of LGBTQ+ people trying to break into the world of sport.

This is the advice Jon would like to give to our readers who are striving to break into professional sport.

‘I wish I had more courage before I was going professional and see how the world would have reacted to coming out and playing as a young kid.’

‘Either way you will always have support within the LGBTQ+ community, there is always somebody to reach out too and it really helps having somebody to speak to.’

‘Just be true to yourself, look inside yourself and see how it makes you feel, if you feel right by it and can see it is something that can help then stick to that.’

– Jon Lee-Olsen’s advice to aspiring athletes inside the LGBTQ+ community.

Get Involved

As mentioned previously, Proudly.blog will be taking an insight into various LGBTQ+ creators to help inspire the young and upcoming journalists of today. If you have a story you would like to share or think you know someone who would like to share their story. Get in touch and get involved.

A huge thank you to Jon Lee-Olsen for sharing his story and advice to our readers.

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Jon Lee-Olsen’s social’s

Our readers can stay up to date with everything Jon by viewing his social media pages below