The Relationships in the Public Eye panel took place on Sunday at Summer in the City 2019, in Panel Room B. Panellists included Jamie Raines, Shaaba Lotun and Jessica Kellgren-Fozard. It was chaired by Jake Edwards.
Noah Finn Adams and Corry also guested on the panel. Jake opened by asking the panellists if placing their relationship in the public eye had changed anything for them and how they are with their partner.
Everyone agreed that the only effects on the relationship were positive. They felt much less pressure when they didn’t have to hide their interactions with their viewers.
To this point, Jessica jokingly told the audience that her wife, Claudia, actually had to have a ‘privacy chat’ with her, as her disability means her idea is of privacy differs from hers.
Next Jake raised the question of whether audiences ever objectify the panellists’ relationships, to which Noah quickly yelled “Oh my god yes! It’s odd, the fanfiction -“, before staring into the distance with a worried expression. The panel all agreed that fanfiction about yourself is strange – although reading it is a guilty pleasure.
And Jamie and Shaaba both stated that they don’t like being asked sex-related questions and often ignore them.
Jessica laughed, saying she feels like she objectifies her own relationship. Although she went on to say that she does it to educate other lesbian couples and to normalise her relationship with Claudia. She also didn’t think she’d find anyone when she was younger, so wanted to put herself out there to show that anyone can find love.
Jake then raised the taboo topic of whether any of the panellists had a ‘break-up plan’. Jamie and Shaaba said they’d only made real-life plans. They feel their channels are separate enough to be able to continue in a normal fashion.
Jessica declared that her marriage meant everything to her. If any stress from her job affected her and Claudia she would drop it all instantly in order to help their relationship.
The panel acknowledged that they are all part of the LGBTQ+ community and Jake asked if anyone had ever encountered any issues that straight couple might not have. The couples all stated that actually, they felt they had more support than most other couples online because there was such a strong feeling of love from other members of the LGBTQ+ community.
For Jessica, the only time she’s experienced negativity has been in real life. When she was told she wasn’t allowed to join a feminist book club because she “dressed for men”, to which the entire room burst out laughing and Jessica turned and said, “I know right!”
This then led onto the conversation of what limits the couples set when it comes to sharing with their audience. The overall feeling was that if one of the people in the couple felt odd sharing something, nine times out of ten it wouldn’t be posted.
Although because of not wanting to overshare with audiences, the panel decided that it actually strengthens the relationships they’re in as it forces them to talk about uncomfortable subjects.
Jake then asked the panellists about the positive side of sharing your relationship online, to which Jessica responded that for her, it’s educating young LGBTQ+ people and reinforcing that they can be in a relationship that’s no different to the straight couples they see on TV.
The question was then flipped to the hardest part of sharing relationships online.
Jessica said that people can have different ideas to her as to what is sharable and what should remain private. “Just because you would share it publicly, doesn’t mean I have to.”
An audience member asked if family and friends supported the panellists when they went public. Shaaba said she actually had a few issues with family. Although, without going into detail, she said that they’re now quite good. That does mean, however, there’s some content she puts out that they don’t agree with.
Finally, the panel was asked to give advice to young LGBTQ+ couples, to which they all agreed that ‘communication is key’.
Photos by Emma Pamplin.
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