Big Brother star Jade Lynch... I'm not easy
The breakout star of this year's 'Big Brother' was Dublin model Jade Lynch. Our reporter finds that she is not your typical Irish Model. Raised by her gay mother, she never knew her biological father. She became nearly suicidal when she was bullied as a teenager and now, while she has intimate relationships with different men at the same time, she says the last thing she is is easy. Photography by Kip Carroll. Styling by Nikki Cummins Black
Michael Hirschorn asked in The Atlantic magazine in 2007: "Is there an easier position to take in polite society than to patronise reality TV? Even television programmers see the genre as a kind of visual Hamburger Helper: cheap filler that saves them money they can use elsewhere for more worthy programming."
Yet, when Jade Lynch was evicted from the Big Brother house on June 19, the 24-year-old Dublin-born model-turned- spokesperson-for-polyamory brought some deeper truth to the genre as she talked about the inner battle of dark versus light, good versus bad.
Fighting back tears, she told the show's host, Emma Willis: "I knew I was going. I could feel it all day and, as I've always said, there are two sides to me - the good and bad.
"But the bad side took over when those doors opened," Jade added. She was refering to the boos and the jeers that greeted her re-emergence after six weeks of surveillance-style footage of her failings, foibles and fumblings - and the odd wince-worthy word - being beamed to the outside world, courtesy of Channel 5. The little girl who grew up in a cottage in Dublin's Phoenix Park - "I used to visit the Zoo every day" - was the star of the show, with her tantalising pronouncements concerning her unshackled sexuality and soul.
Today in a five-star Dublin hotel, Jade is putting in context what she calls the other side of her psyche - the dark side - which has protected her in her life. She talks more with the zip and va-va-voom of a Camille Paglia or a Shere Hite surfing the academic socio-sexual zeitgeist than that of a twentysomething reality-TV flibbertigibbet from Coolock.
"I always felt like there was another person inside me," she says. "Someone who was there to help me when I needed them. It's my other side. So I am calm and cool, don't like confrontation and I deal with it in a very assertive way. I also am very emotional. I hate negative stuff. I'm not able to handle the badness in the real world and I crumble easy," she explains.
"So this is where the 'other Jade' steps in. She is strong, and picks us both back up when I fall. She has a vicious streak - a very sharp tongue. She is very good at making me see sense sometimes when I'm being gullible. She is a firecracker, to say the least.
"Sometimes, even when I don't need her, she will come out and say something and I have to stop and say: 'OMG. That was not me'. I did it so many times in the house. She comes out when the boos and fights happen, because she can handle it. She is the fierce one. There's a real beauty in how she does [come out], though. We have a really good connection. She protects me and would never do anything to hurt me."
This other Jade emerged out of necessity - a means of survival, even - when she was 18, after seven years of being badly bullied at school and around Coolock in Dublin where she grew up.
Jade suffered from depression, she says, as a result of the bullying. "I was nearly suicidal at 14. I kept mitching school because I was scared to go in. Then I left, and got bullied around the place I was living. I always knew there was something bigger and better for me out there, and my passion to find that, along with the 'other Jade', helped me out of it," she says. She says what helped her was "knowing the bullies were nasty people and unhappy with their life, so I was an easy target.
"Now, when I walk by them, they put their head down, as opposed to me putting my head down," Jade says. "My energy has changed. I read books and got myself out to the world and escaped it all."
Jade credits reading Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose when she was 18 with rousing something spiritual in her. "That book came to me just when I needed it," she says. "I was at a low point, and it just presented itself to me. It gave me the strength to move out of the bad situation I was in when I was being bullied. I still read it."
Her spiritual evolution notwithstanding, Jade's conversion to polyamory - where someone can be in a non-possessive and non-exclusive intimate relationship with more than one person simultaneously - is, perhaps, the more intriguing part of her life's journey this far.
"I've been polyamorous for a few years now," she begins. She first realised she was polyamorous when she was 18 and she "kept cheating" on her boyfriend. "I thought there might be something wrong with me," she says.
Maybe you were just a cold bee-atch?
"No, no, I kept cheating on him and I was wondering what was going on. I had to break away from him, because I kept doing it to him. I read a few books and I came across polyamory. Then I met a few people. It kind of fitted well with me and that's where I've been ever since."
So, where does that come from, psychologically, with you?
"It come from being free. The thing with me is, I don't want to feel like I'm trapped in a relationship and then somebody else comes along and we have a beautiful chemistry and connection - a sexual connection, the whole lot - and I have to leave that, just because I am in a monogamous relationship. That doesn't work for me, because I want to experience everything in life, and the universe, and all the energies and the feelings the world has to offer."
How is that different from being in an open relationship?
So you and George Michael have a lot in common, then?
"George Michael has it going on. He knows what's happening."
But presumably you are not going off with random white-van drivers in the middle of the night in London?
"Er, no," she laughs. "Definitely not. No, when it comes to sex, I am extremely closed in that situation. It would take a lot for me to be sexual with someone."
But you can have an intimate, loving relationship with someone one night and the next night have a intimate, loving relationship with someone else?
"Exactly," Jade says without blinking.
How does that work emotionally and with all those other feelings?
"It doesn't take away from what I have with one person, just because I might have something similar with another person. That doesn't take away from anything I have with anybody else, because I feel everything all the time, and I just want to give energy and give feeling, and I want that back. And that's what happens with me."
It must be difficult to find a guy who will share your philosophy. I'm sure Irish men would say they are fine with it, but as soon as you sleep with someone else, maybe they are not quite so fine?
"I don't even date, to be honest with you, because I can't find anybody who will be open enough to accept me for the way I am. And when I do date, I don't bother being polyamorous because I don't like the hassle. So therefore I don't get into relationships."
How would you feel if you were with some guy and then he told you he was with someone else the night after he was with you?
"The thing is, polyamorous is a sticky one, because you can cheat in a polyamorous relationship."
"Can. Because - say if you and me were together, and then you go out and have a one-night stand, that's classed as cheating. Polyamorous is all about feeling, all about love, all about respect, all about being open. It is not about having a night off to go and have sex with someone that you've met in a club. That is not what it is about at all. It is all about building relationships with people."
Would it be the case that your partner would prefer you to just have sex with someone else, rather than a deep emotional connection?
"No, we don't want to have no-strings-attached sex," she clarifies. "That's not what we're about. We are all about emotion. For me to be in a loving relationship with somebody and then for them to go off and meet a girl in a nightclub and have sex and not see her again, that's classed as cheating, because that is disrespectful and it's rude. It's not about sex. So that is classed as cheating."
So can you have a loving relationship with five guys?
"It doesn't mean five guys! Max, two. But two, yeah."
Are you frightened somehow that familiarity breeds contempt?
"No. I'm not frightened of anything. I don't have any sort of hidden emotional issues from any stage of my life. It's just genuinely how my soul is. I feel like a weird hippy. That I don't even live in 2015. I feel like I live back with the hippies in 1968."
Do you get guys hitting on you pretending to be devout disciples of polyamory?
"No," she laughs. "Because they don't know that I'm polyamorous because I don't tell them. So, no. . . well - they will [know she's polyamorous] after this interview, but so far no one has tried to hit on me, because I keep running from everyone!"
"If you go to New York, for instance, being polyamorous is like a trend over there, almost. Everyone is doing it. Everyone is free and everyone is accepting. But over here, no one has ever heard of it before: hence the situation that I'm in.
"Obviously, because we are a very strong Catholic country, I think we are very closed-minded to the fact that that actually can happen, and that you are not a slut if you do it. You are just really open-minded and want the best out of life, but people get it twisted and mistake it for me being promiscuous or whatever. That is not the case at all. Can we all not just be open and be accepting?"
Despite all the talk of liberation - of body and soul - Jade doesn't want to say when the last time she had actual sex was. She says she is currently single. "I'm very cautious of who I share sexual energy with," she says. "Sex is very intimate to me and has deep meaning. It's a spiritual thing for me and it affects my energy quickly, so I like to find that connection with that too."
Jade by name but not by nature, the Big Brother star is not unchaste and undiscriminating, she is quick to point out. "Polyamorous is not about sleeping around," she explains. "That's where Irish people get it wrong. It is not even about sex. It is about having connections with other people and different situations going on. Now a girl who sleeps around and is easy and will throw herself at guys and will sleep with the first guys she sees, that girl is not polyamorous. Being polyamorous - you do not do that. You make a deep, loving connection with somebody and then if it goes there, it goes there. Certainly, the last thing I am is easy, in any shape or form. Guys have to graft to even get me to go on a date. Do you know what I mean? That's how bad I am. Being polyamorous is perceived as being easy, and that is not the case at all."
Tell me about men having to graft with you.
"The thing is, I never really date or anything, because I don't really find many people who get me or connect with me. Connection is a really big thing for me. If we don't connect, it is not going to happen. But I would have to go on multiple dates and get to know somebody really, really well, before I wanted to take any sort of step into it. I am very cautious in that way, about who I share those sexual energies with. With Brian, for instance," she says, referring to fellow competitor on BB, Brian Belo, "we spent four days together in the Big Brother house and it was amazing, and now we've been texting and talking constantly. I'm going over to see him at the weekend. We are going to spend a bit of time together. He lives in Essex. We'll see what happens."
The story of Jade Lynch is a fascinating tale on many levels. However, in the light of the recent result of the same-sex-marriage referendum, Jade's story seems almost ordinary.
Her mother, Caroline, is gay. "She wanted a baby," Jade says. "She was with her partner at the time. My mam wanted to get pregnant. So they knew this Italian guy that they were very close to at the time and they explained to him that they wanted a baby. So he gave his sperm, and here I am. And he went on his way."
Have you ever met your biological father?
"No. No. My mam just didn't want him to have anything go to do with me. Like, I was her baby and that was it." Well, not quite. Jade-Martina Lynch (who was born in Holles Street hospital on December 30, 1990) was, she says, "raised by my mam. My mam's job meant she had to be away a lot, so my aunts stepped in and raised me also. Then, when I was nine, I went to live with my nan for a few years while my mam worked. I saw her every day, but just didn't live there. So my nan looked after me for a few years," from about the age of nine to 11. "Then my mam quit her job and we moved back home.
"I've had father figures in my life," she adds, "like my sister's dad, for instance. He has been there throughout my whole life; and so has my uncle. I was reared by my mum Caroline, and my sister's dad." Caroline had a relationship with a man and had a child - Victoria, who is two years younger than Jade - and when the relationship ended, the man stayed on as a firm presence in Victoria and Caroline's (and Jade's) life to this day.
Jade says her family background is not connected whatsoever with her polyamorous side. "No, I am very different to all the rest of my family anyway. I feel very free and spiritual and have hippy-ish vibes going on. And none of my family are like that at all. It is nothing at all to do with my mum. Even if I grew up with a mother and a father and everything was very strict, I would still feel like this, because this is what is in my soul and in my energies. So how I feel now is irrelevant to my upbringing. My mam is very free and open anyway."
I ask Jade whether she is gay or bisexual. "No, I'm straight. My sister is gay and she is open-minded but I am extremely out-there; I'm very open-minded."
Is straight not too confining for you then?
"I don't want to be categorised. But if you are going to ask me if I'm gay or straight, I'm going to say I'm straight because I'm into guys. It's as simple as that. I'm into guys. I don't feel any sexual situation with women. But I wouldn't turn down a situation. That's what I mean by being open and free."
And have you been with a woman?
Jade is annoyed that Irish people weren't more supportive of her on Big Brother. "I just thought to myself: 'You're Irish, would you not support your own?' But even people who are nice to my face now didn't support me when I was in the house. Why can't these people," Jade says - referring to the alleged hypocrites who didn't support her in Big Brother but who now are all over her like a cheap bikini, she claims - "be real to me?
"Being in that house has made me so real as a person. And I can't hide this now. They've created a monster. When you are pushed to your limit - as I was in that house - you discover more things about yourself and you learn constantly. That's exactly what happened. And to be honest with you, I wasn't being true and honest before I went in there. Now I am the opposite. I am completely true to my feelings. I feel how I want to feel. I say what I want to say."
Be that as it may, only a month or so before she entered the Big Brother house, Jade had just come out of a two-and-a-half year relationship that was not polyamorous.
"I wasn't true to myself," she says. "And I am thankful for that experience, because it has made me know that it is not wrong to be true to yourself, and you need to make yourself happy, and you come first and your happiness comes first. And that's it. And that's where I am right now. I'm being honest to myself and true to how I feel, and openly expressing through my words how I feel."
She adds: "The way I was portrayed in the Big Brother house was wrong - as basically a bed-hopper. Because I was friends with Nick, they wanted to make a fuss about that in the house. Then Christian in the house, he's a very good-looking guy, we're both single, we gave each other a couple of cuddles, that was it, nothing else, and that was portrayed as something else.
"Then they tried to say that I went on to Danny or Mark, which was not the case. I never even had a conversation with either of them, because I didn't like them. Then Brian came in the house and I was kissing Brian. That's what was happening. But I think the other guys got quite jealous, especially Christian."
But you weren't doing it to make them jealous?
"No, God! I don't like them in that way. I was not into them in that way whatsoever, but I was into Brian in that way. I know we're in Big Brother, but we're not 10. We're adults. This guy likes me. I like him. We kissed. What's the big deal? Now it's national news. I don't give a damn," she laughs.
"You know, what makes me laugh is that the guys in the house go from girl to girl, but I'm called a bed-hopper, but they're OK. They're the fucking saints! It's just a load of shit. That annoys me how women are portrayed as that. Can we all not be open?"
Later this summer, Jade plans to travel around Thailand with some friends, "and live with the monks for a few weeks. I want to go on a spiritual holiday.
"I also want to live in Australia for a while too. I want to make lots of money, then come home and buy my house."
Jade, who started modelling when she was 18, says she "struggled for years, until the last two years with Fraser Models".
Jade also mentions modelling in Italy later this year, and possibly more TV work - she did a presenting slot on TV3's Xpose last month. The brown-eyed girl also had walk-on parts in Vikings and Game Of Thrones last summer.
More than acting or being on TV, the project closest to Jade Lynch's complicated heart is working, in some capacity, as a counsellor with homeless people in Ireland. Last summer, she stayed every night in a different hostel around Dublin with homeless people to get a sense of what they were living through. Jade also has a homeless friend whom she is currently trying to find.
She talks about going to Trinity College to do a psychology and sociology course to help with her future life as a counsellor. Jade doesn't doubt for one second that she will find far more reality there than in the reality TV that made her a celebrity.
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