X-Factor’s Union J member Jaymi Hensley, 22, revealed that Louis Walsh encouraged him to come out. Jaymi told The Sun: ‘I spoke to Louis about this and he said, ‘put it this way, both of my big boybands had a gay member in them.’ So he said it fits the formula quite well! Every boyband has got to have a gay one! And Louis just said ‘do it’.’ I’m gay and I’ve never been happier!’
His bandmates, Josh Cuthbert, George Shelley and Jamie ‘JJ’ Hamblett, have known since Union J were formed for this year’s X Factor and are fully behind his decision: ‘They have always supported me with doing this. I didn’t want to do it in five years’ time when I have made money and had a career. I don’t think anyone should have to hide who they are.
I’d love my career to take off to the heights of One Direction. But not enough people in the music industry are open about their sexuality.’ He lives in Luton with his mum, Jackie, and has been in a relationship with his boyfriend, 21, for three years. He declined to name his boyfriend, who is a hairdresser, but revealed the pair plan to marry and have kids.
‘I came on to the show not wanting to be judged for my personal life. But people have caught wind of it and I just wanted to set the record straight. It is not a big thing for me, I came out when I was 14 to my family and friends and never had one piece of negativity. It is a brave move. There could be negative people, but they are just sad and stuck 20 years ago.’
“I hope the reaction will hopefully be, ‘OK, we kind of knew, but well done on coming out’. I don’t want people to think I have hidden this to gain votes because I am so proud of who I am. I hope people respect me for being honest.’
Jaymi is not the only openly gay singer on this year’s show, joining Rylan Clark, Lucy Spraggan and Jade Ellis. But he was inspired to make his revelation after a young fan got in touch and he hopes it will help other young people struggling with their sexuality.
He says: ‘I got a tweet from a boy who must have been 13 or 14 asking if the rumours that I was gay were true. He said he really wished I could be out because he didn’t have anyone to look up to and was finding it really hard to fit in and tell his parents. I was that kid at 14 and really wish I had someone to say it was OK to be pictured on the red carpet with a guy and be gay in a boyband.
The X Factor is such a great show to show that, you’ve got such a great range of characters, especially Rylan who is so open. It was like if he can do it, why can’t I? But I’m not going to suddenly come out and do a flamboyant performance, that’s Rylan’s bag.’
Being thrust into the spotlight on The X Factor did cause Jaymi to have an awkward conversation with his boyfriend after Union J hit the town and were pictured with lots of girls. Jaymi explains: ‘I got papped with six girls from Take Me Out. I woke up to my boyfriend ringing me saying, ‘I’m not being funny but what did you do in the club last night?’’
Jaymi has also struck up a friendship with Rylan’s pal, Sun columnist, Katie Price. ‘I texted Katie to say I was going to come out and she said, ‘don’t you get a pink car like me!’ I was like, ‘of course I want a pink car!’ She’s become a very good friend of mine through Rylan. I want to be able to go to gay clubs and be pictured with her and her gay friends. I want to have fun with my life.’
He was also inspired by other talent show stars such as Will Young and Joe McElderry who previously came out. He said: ‘They’ve been an inspiration and hopefully I can be one too. If I can help just one kid out there, that is enough for me.’