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Will Young reflects on the time he witnessed a transphobic street attack: ‘We should all know and empathise more’

Patrick Kelleher September 7, 2020
Will Young homophobic abuse

Will Young. (Karwai Tang/WireImage)

Will Young has drawn attention to the appalling discrimination faced by trans people in the UK, reflecting on the time he witnessed a verbal transphobic attack.

The singer-songwriter made the comments on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch, where he revealed that he once intervened when he saw a trans woman being harassed by schoolchildren in London.

“I was driving through Fulham, and this transgender woman was being bullied by kids,” Young told Sunday Brunch hosts Tim Lovejoy and Simon Rimmer.

“I stopped and I spoke to her, and I saw some police and got them, and she said: ‘This happens to me every morning I go to work, I have to walk past this school, and every evening when I’m finished work.’

“Every day for while school is in, however any months a year that is, she has to deal with that. And that’s where it’s still very bad for transgender people,” the singer said.

Will Young was told that his vocals on ‘Leave Right Now’ were ‘too gay’.

Young made his comments during a conversation about his new book, To be a Gay Man, which looks at the internalised “gay shame” he carried through much of his life.

The Pop Idol winner spoke about some of the homophobia he has faced throughout his music career, noting that anti-gay bias was “all just part of the parcel” when he rose to fame.

“People were homophobic about you on radio or on TV or in the press, you didn’t do anything about it, it was just the way it was.”

He continued: “When I sang a song called ‘Leave Right Now’, the head of the record company said I sounded too gay, and he asked me to record it three times. What he doesn’t know is, me and my producer Steve Lipson, we never re-recorded it, we just kept sending the original back to him. Then he was like, ‘Oh, so much better, far less gay!'”

Young said his new book is “about educating people” —and that he, as a cisgender, white, middle-class man has had to become aware of his own privilege.

“I don’t know lots of things, and when the Black rights movement was coming up about three months ago, it came into my remit more, I started educating myself. I don’t know about that, but I want to know. And I think we should all know and empathise more, and have an idea of what it is to walk in someone else’s shoes.”

 

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