The People - - NEWS FEATURES - By Ja­nine Yaqoob TV EDI­TOR

X FAC­TOR favourite Bella Pen­fold has re­vealed she ignored friends’ ad­vice to hide her sex­u­al­ity on the show.

Pals of the mu­si­cal the­atre per­former feared she might lose votes if peo­ple found out she had a girl­friend.

But Bella, 19, in­sisted on be­ing open about who she is – and is now to proud to have be­come an LGBTQ role model.

She said: “I’m just be­ing me. I’m not forc­ing any­one to have my ideas or opin­ions. I wanted to help those who are scared.

“I didn’t come out un­til I was 16, or 17 so I wasn’t bul­lied. My friends were ma­ture enough to un­der­stand.

“I’ve been blessed – I haven’t had abuse. It doesn’t phase me walk­ing down the street hold­ing hands with a girl.” Bella said her mum Ni­cole found it dif­fi­cult when she first came out. The singer said: “I told her a cou­ple of years ago. My mum is great now, but she strug­gled at first. “The prob­lem is so­ci­ety im­plies there is some­thing wrong with it, which af­fects how peo­ple think. In the end it was my mum’s choice to ac­cept it and see me happy – or not and lose me.” Speak­ing for the first time about her girl­friend Tasha John­stone, also 19, Bella said: “She’s so dif­fer­ent to me. She’s re­ally calm and I’m re­ally crazy. She keeps me grounded. “We haven’t been go­ing out very long. She was my best friend for a while. I kept drop­ping hints I liked her and af­ter a year-and-a-half of chas­ing her I got the girl.”

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