Little Mix feared arrest after displaying Pride flag on stage in Dubai, says Jade Thirlwall

"In my mind, we either didn’t go or we’d go and make a point," says Jade of gig in UAE, where gay sex is punishable by execution.


Words: Jamie Tabberer; pictures: RCA/Insta/@jadethirlwall

Little Mix feared arrest in Dubai after displaying a Pride flag at a gig in 2019, Jade Thirlwall has revealed.

Homosexuality is punishable by imprisonment, fines, flogging and execution in the United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is the most populous city.

Jade, Perrie Edwards, Leigh-Anne Pinnick and then-bandmate Jesy Nelson performed in Dubai on 23 March 2019. The girls were joined at The Assembly: A Global Teacher Prize Concert at the Dubai Media City Amphitheatre by the likes of Rita Ora and Liam Payne.

"I could see fans crying and singing along in the audience"

In an op-ed for Metro about her LGBTQ allyship, Jade explained of the trip: "We were told numerous times to ‘abide by the rules', which meant not promoting anything LGBT+ or too female-empowering (cut to us serving a four-part harmony to 'Salute'). In my mind, we either didn’t go or we’d go and make a point.

"When 'Secret Love Song' came on, we performed it with the LGBT+ flag taking up the whole screen behind us. The crowd went wild, I could see fans crying and singing along in the audience and when we returned it was everywhere in the press."

The 28-year-old added: "I saw so many positive tweets and messages from the community. It made laying in our hotel rooms s**tting ourselves that we’d get arrested that night more than worth it."

On how straight people can be better allies to LGBTQs, the 'Sweet Melody' singer also wrote: "Don’t let the fear of f**king up scare you off. And make sure you are speaking alongside the community, not for the community."

In 2020, she also told Attitude of the subject: "I don't think there is such thing as a ‘perfect ally.’ I'm still very much learning, and I don't want to put myself on a pedestal, for then maybe to say the wrong thing one day and slip up and be like ‘Oh god, I'm so sorry, I've done the wrong thing.’

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"I'm just constantly trying to learn and not speak for other people, but speak with them. [...] I would never want to look like I was just using that audience for my own benefit."

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