Sarah Bettens is a lead singer / rock star. She was born in the beautiful Belgium where she started the popular band K’s Choice with her brother. Her lesbian fanbase was very excited when she finally came out as a lesbian to the public. Sarah is an icon for every queer woman in Belgium and beyond. Sarah Bettens is a very busy musician and is currently touring with K’s Choice. In between concerts, she commutes between Europe and her new home base in the US.
Why did you choose to move to the US?
I moved to the US almost 20 years ago. At that time, K’s Choice was doing great here. I fell in love with California upon my first visit and I basically never looked back. I feel very much at home here. I’m still in Belgium or Europe almost every month for work, but the US feels like home now and I can’t imagine living anywhere else.
Have you traveled a lot in the States? Any epic road trips?
We toured endlessly in the States with K’s Choice, I think there are only one or two states that we didn’t hit. As a Belgian band, touring through the States was a dream come true. It was all epic to be honest with you. We often couldn’t believe all this was happening to us.
Can you compare the LGBT scene in Belgium with the US?
That’s hard to compare because I haven’t lived in Belgium in 20 years. I imagine there are a lot of similarities since they’re both from the Western world.
Did you feel changes in LGBT tolerance after the election of a new leader?
A lot has changed for the better in the last decade especially. Trump is not going to be able to dial that back, too much progress has been made. I feel it everywhere, also in the new generation.
Did you ever experience trouble or felt unsafe for being gay?
Not unsafe, but I lived in Tennessee for a long time, and I did not feel comfortable walking hand in hand with my wife in that small town. It really depends on where you are in the States. Now that we live in California, it’s not even an issue, nobody even blinks when I talk about my ‘wife’.
Have you ever been kicked out of the ladies room?
Women in the ladies’ room think I’m a boy probably 90% of the time. I’ve gotten used to it. It has taken me a long time to not get mad about it on the inside. I’m 44 years old and I feel like I’m finally fully embracing my true identity. I’m not a boy. I’m a girl who likes looking like a boy. I used to hold back more and wear things that made mostly the people around me feel more comfortable. These days, I’m stepping away from that more and more. I don’t care, everyone just needs to do their own thing.
Do you have any advice for people who are struggling with their sexuality?
I think the best advice I ever heard from anyone is ‘it gets better’. Everyone has to go through their own specific journey and the obstacles can really differ from one person to the next. As you get older and start feeling comfortable in your own skin, the world can be as happy a place as it is for anybody else. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and I think that applies to everyone who has had to come out, either to themselves or to the outside world.
A lot of LGBT have uncomfortable memories about outing to their family. How did your family respond?
My parents were in shock and very unhappy, but luckily only for a very short period of time. I think they feel embarrassed about it now because they love my wife and they can’t imagine my life being any different. Of course, I announced my divorce from my then-husband and my coming out all at the same time, so it was a lot to digest.
What’s your favourite song from your own repertoire?
I have new favorites all the time. Today it’s The Phantom Cowboy. It’s a song that asserts my individuality and I find myself still needing to do that.
What was it like to work with Skin (Skunk Anansie) again?
Fantastic. She’s very talented and it was such a pleasure to have her in the studio. She was very open to all suggestions, up for trying anything and I feel like the result is amazing.
You just got a free plane ticket to anywhere and a lot of time to spare. You have to leave now. Where would you go?
New Zealand. Nature apparently is stunning and it sounds like a perfect place to escape to.