14 June, 2000

Sinead O'Connor comes out . . . with album
By Elysa Gardner

Compassion with attitude is the song she sings

NEW YORK - Sinead O'Connor has a confession to make.

Some might suspect that the Irish singer/songwriter,
who has inspired controversy with everything from her
political views to her tonsorial choices, is simply
trying to shock us again. Others might dismiss her
revelation as an attempt to draw attention to her new
album, Faith and Courage, which hits stores today. But
here it is:

'Faith and Courage': Sinead O'Connor, ordained as a
priest, is releasing her first album in six years.
"I want to be Goldie Hawn," says O'Connor, 33,
lounging in her Manhattan hotel suite.

"I'd like to do comic acting," she explains. "Not
heavy drama, where I'd have to dredge up lots of pain.

"But I wouldn't want to play big, big parts, because
I'm actually painfully shy."

Of course, if you're up on your show-biz gossip, you
would most likely conclude that O'Connor is learning
to overcome her timidity when it comes to her sex

On Thursday, the lesbian magazine Curve issued a news
release boasting that O'Connor had just "come out" to
a Curve reporter in an "exclusive" interview.

But O'Connor had already outed herself in a letter
featured in the current issue of the Irish publication
Hot Press. Addressing a previous interview in which
she had discussed her sexuality, O'Connor wrote, "I am
a lesbian. I love men, but I prefer sex with women."

Not surprisingly, O'Connor's appearance on Howard
Stern's radio show Friday yielded more graphic
details. "But I don't believe in gay or straight," she
told Stern.

In fact, on one song on Faith, Daddy I'm Fine,
O'Connor sings of wanting to have sex with "every man
in sight." That contradicts what she told Time in
another interview last week - that she has "a huge
calling towards celibacy. Obviously I am a very sexual
person, and that's why it's a struggle."

Asked about her current dating status, O'Connor says,
"I dabble a bit, but I don't have a strict boyfriend."
Smiling slyly, she adds, "Or a girlfriend."

But on this afternoon, at least, O'Connor is more
eager to discuss Faith, for which she enlisted an
eclectic array of producers and co-writers, including
Brian Eno, Dave Stewart and Wyclef Jean.

"It was important to work with people who could bring
a sense of mischief and lightness and pop fun to the
record," O'Connor says.

Faith also was influenced by O'Connor's decision to
become a priest. Last year, the singer was ordained by
the Latin Tridentine Church, a splinter group of the
Roman Catholic Church.

"I've always been inspired by religious studies - by
the Rastafarians, by Hinduism, by the Jews, " she
says. "I'm passionately in love with the idea of God,
although I think that organized religion has made God
an uncool word. I think the problem is that we're
missing an 'o.' Substitute the word 'good' - problem

O'Connor chose the Tridentine movement because it is
willing to ordain women - and because it doesn't
require celibacy, "which I think should be voluntary
rather than compulsory."

"But I don't want to talk too much about being a
priest, because I didn't do this to get publicity,"
she stresses. "Also, the Vatican (officials) have been
very tolerant toward me. I think they feel that as
long as I don't (mess) with them, they're not gonna
(mess) with me."

O'Connor's troubles with the Vatican can, of course,
be traced to her infamous Saturday Night Live
appearance in 1992, when she capped a song by ripping
up a picture of Pope John Paul II.

"The song was about child abuse, and at that time we
were dealing with that issue in the church here (in
Ireland)," she says. "It wasn't an attack on the pope
personally. In fact, I have great love and admiration
for him - and great sorrow for the fact that he's
being worked like a dog when he should be able to rest
up and have some fun and have a wife and children."

O'Connor has endured some turmoil in her own domestic
life recently. Last year she was in a custody battle
with Dublin-based journalist John Waters, father of
her daughter, Roisin, 4. There were reports that
O'Connor attempted suicide and that Waters was
subsequently awarded full custody. O'Connor refutes
those accounts.

"I was in the hospital a few times because I was
getting eye infections and losing a lot of weight,"
she says. "Plus, I felt suicidal, which I told a few
friends. So I think people assumed the worst."

O'Connor says that she was granted full custody of the
child but that she and Waters worked out a
joint-custody arrangement that required her to move
from London to Dublin.

O'Connor also remains devoted to her 12-year-old son
from a former marriage, Jake, who lives with father
John Reynolds in London.

For all the speculation about her sexual confusion, in
fact, O'Connor seems settled and content in both her
personal and professional life.

"I have what I call a safe career," she says. "I can't
compete with the Britneys. But I'll always make enough
money to send my kids to good schools and buy all the
makeup I want - and to make the kind of records I want
to make."