Sinitta: 'The last time I was here I saw the story about the Presbyterian Church refusing to baptise the children of same sex couples and I just burst into tears'
Ahead of her appearance on Pamela Ballantine's new-look UTV Life show tonight, singer Sinitta talks to Stephanie Bell about why she was delighted to lend her support to Belfast Pride, life as a single mum of two and her best friend Simon Cowell
Singing superstar Sinitta gave the Belfast Pride Festival a major boost when she flew into Northern Ireland twice this week to support the event. The American-born star, who is known across the world as the 'Godmother of Pride', helped launch the celebrations with a private performance of her new single Shine with Pride in the Kremlin Bar in Belfast last Saturday night.
She also voiced her support for the LGBT community when she returned to Northern Ireland on Wednesday this week for another flying visit, this time to record an interview for UTV Life.
The Eighties pop icon is Pamela Ballantine's star guest on a new-look UTV Life, which starts again tonight after a summer break in a new-look studio.
Sinitta (54), also took time out to talk to the Belfast Telegraph and in a wide-ranging interview she voiced her strong feelings on the subject of gay rights in Northern Ireland, her career, life as a single mum and her friendship with Simon Cowell.
She also clarified reports that her new autobiography was a "tell all" book which would embarrass some of her famous friends, including Cowell.
Though she started her career in several West End productions, Sinitta really hit the big time in the Eighties with a string of hit singles, including So Macho and Toyboy, on the Stock, Aiken and Waterman label. She was Simon Cowell's first signing and dated the music mogul for a time.
They have remained friends ever since and she has often appeared with him on X Factor.
Her new single, which is written for the LGBT community, saw her return to the recording studio for the first time since the 1990s. It is the first track from a new album which features a series of original songs written about her own life experiences.
Shine with Pride is a dance floor anthem and, as she explains, it highlights her mission to bring equality and awareness to the LGBT community, with whom she has had a longstanding relationship and is an ambassador.
She says: "It is self-penned, I wrote it myself as a tribute to the LGBT community and in a nutshell it is telling the LGBT community that God loves them and God loves us all the same," she says.
"That is the short summary of the message. It was a lot of fun and it was great making new music after all these years. I just felt there were things I wanted to say and things I wanted to express and making a new album would be the best way to do it.
"Shine with Pride is the first single to be released and it was perfect as it was in time with Pride and I can sing it all over the world at various different Prides.
"Even though it is being released now, I feel that it is a timeless message and a great one to kick off with."
The week-long Pride Festival in Belfast kicked off early last Sunday morning when Sinitta took to the stage in a packed Kremlin Bar to sing her new single.
She says: "I was here on Saturday at the Late Night at The Kremlin and then flew home at some crazy hour of the morning as I was there until 3am, so I feel like I have been here all week.
"I performed my new single for the first time kicking off the pre-Pride celebrations."
Sinitta is well aware of the ongoing debate in Northern Ireland in relation to legalising same-sex marriage. Well-known for her Christian faith and an ordained preacher with the international Pentecostal Hillsong Church, she says she finds the arguments against equality here hurtful.
And she had some hard-hitting comments for those opposed to same sex-marriage in Northern Ireland.
She also revealed that the last time she was here she was reduced to tears by local news headlines relating to the baptism of the children of same-sex couples.
Sinitta says: "This is why it so important for me to come here and also to have this message in the single. The last time I was here for a big travel convention a few weeks ago, on the front page of the Belfast Telegraph that morning there was something about how the (Presbyterian) church was refusing to baptise the children of same sex couples and I burst into tears because it was just so awful to me.
"This is why the message is so important; it doesn't make sense to me.
"I am a born-again Christian. I am in the ministry of a church, so I am a big Jesus supporter and part of the Christian community and I don't understand how and why you can be a Christian and actually discriminate against people or another person. It is something which is really heavy on my heart.
"I am in ministry, I am a pastor and I was a worship leader in my church and I just thought 'I will baptise your babies because I can'.
"It just doesn't make sense. The whole thing about Jesus... He walked with prostitutes and tax collectors and the disciples were a whole bunch of misfits and oddballs, the whole point was it didn't matter who you were or where you were in life.
"There are no perfect people in the Bible. Jesus died to cover our sins, so why are we still trying to persecute and discriminate and condemn people?
"Yes, it does say in the Bible that same sexual relationships are a sin, but it also says that sex outside of marriage is a sin and that lying is a sin and stealing - things that we all have done at some time in our lives, so how come we are allowed to baptise our children and the LGBT community is not?"
Sinitta currently has homes in the US and London and is a single mum of two children, Magdalena (13) and Zac (12), who she adopted after struggling to conceive with her former husband Andy Wullner.
Having a high profile career - she is also known for television appearances, including Loose Women, The Extra Factor and This Morning - she says balancing the demands of her work with her home life as a mum is a constant juggle.
"It has always been difficult, but it is what every working mother does. So many of us do work and do have careers and raise our children. I think it is healthy, as it shows our work ethic and that you can do it," she says.
"I am also a single mum and I think you just get on with it and you don't beat yourself up about it and you do the best you can. As long as there is a lot of love and you are bringing the bacon home and keeping them fed and cleaned and loved, you are doing a good job."
Although famed for her beauty as well as her career success, Sinitta has been single for some time and confesses that she struggles to find a partner.
Last year she appeared on a celebrity version of the hit TV series First Dates and revealed she was excited at the prospect of meeting someone special.
Her date went well but sadly there was no romance, although she has remained good friends with the man she met.
She says: "I think it is hard to meet someone when you are a mother. I think it is hard to meet someone when you are older as well and I think the combination of being an older mother and then being an older mother who is also in the public eye, all these things make it a bit more challenging to meet someone.
"When they approached me for First Dates and asked me to take part I thought 'Yeah, why not?' and then I got really over-excited and though 'What if they really do find my perfect match?'. So I was kind of over-expectant, but I think you have got to be, you have got to go with an open heart.
"I did meet a lovely man, but we didn't end up dating. We are friends and, in fact, he is going to be in London in September and has invited me to something he is going to, so I met a new friend out of it."
Her most famous friendship is with Simon Cowell. The couple have been friends for more than 30 years and are godparents to each other's children.
Sinitta is a regular on the X Factor and hopes to appear on the show again this year.
Her natural beauty and flawless complexion have led media commentators to question if she has found the secret to eternal youth but she laughs as she reveals that she does put a lot of effort into staying healthy and young-looking.
"I do work hard at it and have done for awhile," she says. "I have always been quite careful with what I eat, I do have treats and I do drink now and then, but I would say I am about 75% really healthy and I do exercise at least four or five times a week.
"I also try to drink a load of water and I am always trying to take good care of myself, because I kinda want to live forever.
"I am loving all these new things that weren't around when I was younger - mobile phones and email and all the new technology - and I want to be around for my grandchildren, so I am taking good care of myself."
This year Sinitta has been making headlines since announcing the launch of her autobiography in a video diary on her website (www.sinitta.com) called Vook. A book is to follow later this year.
In it, she reveals she was sexually assaulted by six men in the music industry. She is also being blamed for embarrassing her good friend Simon Cowell with some of her revelations.
She says: "It appears in the media that I have made a series of interviews talking about me being abused and sexual encounters. Those stories were excerpts from my autobiography. There will be a book, but instead of making a normal book, I recorded my autobiography in a series of interviews and those stories are part of that.
"There are happy stories as well, things about my early childhood, my theatre career, my movie career and funny things from the early days with Simon and Brad Pitt, it's not just the doom and gloom.
"There is nothing damaging in there about Simon. Who would do something horrible to their best friend?
"Simon was worried about me being so open about some of the not-so-nice stories. I feel relieved and happy to be open about who I am and what I have been through, as all those things make you who you are."
Video preview as UTV Life returns
You can watch Sinitta's interview with Pamela Ballantine when she launches her new series of UTV Life tonight. Broadcasting from UTV's new home at City Quays 2, Belfast, viewers will also get a sneak preview of her new single and video, Shine with Pride. Baroness May Blood MBE also joins Pamela while reporter Rita Fitzgerald takes to the waves on the North Coast and has a chat with world-renowned surfer Al Mennie. The show also features live music from Na Leanai, a traditional folk group with a twist comprising the children of the famous Sands family, who will perform their single 'Bring 'em all in'. UTV Life, tonight, 8pm, UTV. Viewers can join in the conversation on Twitter @UTVLife