Will Young praises Troye Sivan for being confidently out in music industry: ‘He’s amazing’

Tufayel Ahmed October 12, 2018
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Will Young speaks on sexuality in the music industry at LGBT Leaders conference presented by PinkNews (Paul Grace)

Will Young has spoken about his struggles with being gay in the music industry at the beginning of his career and praised South African singer Troye Sivan for being so open and uncompromising about his sexuality.

Young, 39, was speaking at the annual LGBT Leaders conference in London, presented by PinkNews, and hosted at Freshfields on Friday.

The singer shot to fame in 2002 on the first ever season of singing competition Pop Idol, the reality show that spawned the global juggernaut Idol series, including American Idol.

“I came out right at the beginning [of my career]. It seems such a long time ago… not because it was 16 years ago, but because of the people were then. I’d get told not to mention it when I was on Pop Idol. Even after I came out ‘publicly,’ the press officer would still say, ‘Don’t relate to sexuality if they ask you.’ I was hindered by the people around me.”

In comparison, Young believes that tolerance of LGBT+ issues and increased rights for queer people has made it easier for musicians today—like Sivan—to be open about their sexuality.

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 18: Singer Troye Sivan performs onstage at The Human Rights Campaign 2017 Los Angeles Gala Dinner at JW Marriott Los Angeles at L.A. LIVE on March 18, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Human Rights Campaign)
Troye Sivan performs onstage (Christopher Polk/Getty)

Sivan has incorporated his sexuality into his music—even recording a song about gay sex.

“He’s amazing. He is what I’d love my son to be. A shining example of what a millennial man can be like. Super cool,” Young said at the LGBT Leaders conference.

Young continued that he is often perplexed about why closeted singers don’t come out.

“Sometimes I see people who are gay and are in public and they don’t talk about it. I think, ‘Screw you.’ People are missing out, you’re letting people down … but then I have to remind myself I don’t know what’s going on in their lives. They might have so much gay shame in their lives. I can’t think, ‘You should be doing this.’ I do, because I’ve become more of an activist.”


Will Young attends the South Bank Sky Arts Awards at The Savoy Hotel on June 7, 2015 in London, England. (John Phillips/Getty)

Young recently penned an opinion piece for PinkNews about mental health to mark World Mental Health Day on October 10.

Young spoke about overcoming gay shame, writing: “Gay shame, and the avoidance of gay shame, is often what drives LGBT+ people to toxic and unhealthy behaviours such as addictions, either in the form of drugs, or sex addiction, or being a workaholic, a perfectionist, a shopaholic.

“After years of having shame being pushed onto you as a young LGBT person, that has to be reversed. I have had to work on it and now, as a 39-year-old man, I can recognise gay shame and handle it accordingly.”

“If someone had told me 20 years ago this is where I’d be approaching my 40th birthday I would have believed it, because that’s what I really wanted. But I wouldn’t have believed I would be so content as a gay man,” Young continued.

“I wasn’t ‘out’ to myself, I wasn’t out to others, I wasn’t happy with that, I didn’t know how it was going to happen.

“It didn’t even seem possible that I could say the word ‘gay,’ let alone attribute it to myself. I felt very isolated, there weren’t many gay role models.

“Fortunately, things have improved in the past two decades. We have far more legislation in place to support and protect LGBT+ people, but there is still a long way to go, especially for young people.”

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