Singer, songwriter, footballer, presenter. Chelcee Grimes has it all – but she had to fight to get there.
The Grammy-nominee has written songs for some of the biggest names in pop including Dua Lipa, Olly Murs, Little Mix, Blackpink and Ke$ha. She’s also a talented football player for Merseyrail Ladies FC and an anchor on the BBC’s Match of the Day spin-off MOTDx.
On top of all this, Chelcee Grimes is a passionate supporter of the LGBT+ community. Her new BBC Sounds podcast Building Queertopia – which she hosts alongside Drag Race alum Courtney Act – dives into the lives of LGBT+ celebrities and explores their dreams for a queer paradise.
Grimes told PinkNews that the podcast is one she wishes was around when she was younger.
She felt “quite alone” growing up as a young queer woman grappling with her identity, but began to find community when she started playing football professionally.
On the pitch, she “never felt like the odd one out” because there has “at least been another lesbian” on the teams she has played for. Grimes played football for Liverpool ladies from the age of 10 to 16 and has played for Everton, Fulham and Tranmere Rovers.
But in music, she felt like it was harder to live her truth as a queer woman.
“I signed my first record deal when I was 18,” Grimes, now 29, recalled. “And I was questioning: Oh, maybe I could have a girl in a music video.”
She said the idea was “shunned”, with music bosses telling her: “You’ll alienate men.”
This came at a crucial time for Grimes, as she was just starting to “come to terms with actually feeling OK and comfortable” with her sexuality.
“It’s a scary place,” she told PinkNews. “I never looked at the TV and saw a pop star who was a lesbian and winning MTV Awards and being nominated for Grammys.”
Today, things are different for Chelcee Grimes. She’s able to embrace her sexuality while enjoying a thriving career as a musician, footballer and presenter.
“I don’t have to hide away now,” she said, adding that she wants her success to inspire kids like her.
“Seeing me, a mixed-race woman of colour and a lesbian, have not just one career but many careers, I hope that sets a fire in someone else so that they can do it too.”
Grimes hopes the world is indeed “moving in the right direction”, and she has seen more LGBT inclusivity in the entertainment and music industry.
She highlighted how more artists are having open conversations about their lived experiences which, in turn, is helping bring to light the struggles and the joys of being LGBT+ in the modern world.
“As soon as I see an article, podcast or conversation that’s being had and people are being their authentic selves, that is helping someone,” Chelcee Grimes said. “Even if they don’t know it, someone’s got to see it.”
“Someone’s being educated at least, even if they don’t feel the same way.
“I think conversations need to continue to happen. It’s sometimes a small thing, and it’s powerful.”
Building Queertopia is currently streaming on BBC Sounds, and new episodes are released every Tuesday.
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