Trans comic Jordan Gray on aftermath of Friday Night Live nudity and ‘moving the needle’
Comedian Jordan Gray opens up about the response to her nude Friday Night Live stunt – and why she’d do it all again.
Jordan arguably had the most iconic LGBTQ+ moment on British TV in 2022 when she bared it all (literally) on Friday Night Live on Friday (21 October).
Though there was predictable mock outrage from so-called ‘gender critical’ voices outrage by the sight of a trans woman’s body, the rousing performance was also met with immense love from queer viewers – something that moved Jordan to tears.
“I cried on the way home,” she tells PinkNews. “I got in a taxi after the after-party, and I saw a consolidation of a load of the best comments and it was people saying, ‘I just feel seen’ or ‘I feel like I don’t need to feel ashamed and I haven’t had that feeling yet’.”
‘I haven’t had a Yorkie bar in five years.’ – Jordan Gray (@Talldarkfriend) on the difficulties of being transgender. What a moment. #FridayNightLive #TruthAndDare pic.twitter.com/3o34Dl2es1
— Channel 4 (@Channel4) October 21, 2022
It’s exactly the response Jordan was hoping for – she designed the moment to be “simple” and “so joyful”.
“It’s not a long clinical conversation about what it means to be a man and a woman,” she explains.
“It’s a large nude person just joyfully expressing themself,” she says. “So everyone can get on board for that.”
Jordan Gray wants to ‘change the conversation’
Jordan Gray isn’t shocked about the discourse that’s followed her performance, and says she genuinely has “full-on empathy for everybody”.
She admits being frustrated with some people taking the lyrics of her song “Better Than You”, in which she presents her experiences as a trans woman in a satirical light, literally.
“I’m a comedian, and people taking the lyrics of the song at face value has been the bane of comedians’ lives for the last 100 years,” she says. “I will continue to try and chat with everybody because that’s my job.
“I want to change the conversation so that in 10 years, 20 years, whatever it is, trans people don’t have to have this conversation.”
Jordan explains that the song depict a character, a version of herself, who took comments about her identity all too seriously.
“When you’re transgender, you get put on such a pedestal that – if you had no self-awareness – you would just think you were the centre of the universe,” she says.
“There’s a bit in the original song about how I say, ‘I’ll just put on some earrings, some lipstick and a dress and you all said I’m the most incredible, beautiful woman you’ve ever seen.’
“I didn’t hardly do anything. But if I wasn’t self-aware I would go, ‘I’m so beautiful and amazing.’
“The whole song is born from you’ve created a monster, look what you’ve done because you’ve given me all this praise and I’m going to take that praise to the bank.”
If one person’s life was made a little better, it was worth it.
The performer is no stranger to breaking the mould as well as new ground for trans people in entertainment. She was the first out trans contestant to compete on UK’s version of The Voice back in 2016, and on Friday (28 October) she’ll headline the capital’s famous London Palladium with her show Is It a Bird?
She’s not only excited to be the first trans person to headline the historic venue, but she’s also proud do it as a working-class comic.
“Being the first trans person is lovely cherries, but to the biggest, broadest audience that’s probably not the part of the story that they’re coming to see it for,” she says.
“I think they’re coming to see it because they heard it was a big silly show but also to be part of that working-class person’s journey from nothing to the Palladium.”
Reflecting on that journey, she says: “I did The Voice in 2016. It was a lovely response, but I’ve never had that overwhelming sense that I actually did something that made loads of people’s lives a little bit better.”
Until now, it seems.
Jordan adds: “If one person’s life was made a little better, it was worth it, but it was a lot. It was so cool I got to move the needle a tiny bit.”
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