Music

Will Young says Pride helped him ‘undo the brainwashing’: ‘I was terrified’

Josh Milton June 25, 2021
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Will Young, with glasses, talks to the camera in his car

Will Young. (Screen captures via Instagram/@willyoungofficial)

Will Young has said he felt “shame” the first time he attended a Pride parade – but doing so allowed him to “undo the brainwashing” he grew up with.

Young, 42, told YouTube Originals that he spent years feeling “wrong and bad and evil” about being gay, a feeling compounded by music bosses urging him to stay closeted in his early career.

“People did try and sort of initially shut me out but I’d been through too much pain to get to this stage to own it for myself,” he told the platform according to The Mirror.

“The antithesis of Pride is shame,” continued the Pop Idol star, who publicly came out in 2002.

“I have to remind myself that I’ve grown up in a society — fair enough it was different times — but from a very young age where I’ve felt wrong and bad and evil, actually.

“And I didn’t see any representation and so a lot of shame is foisted upon people who do feel different and ‘not normal’.”

Will Young: ‘I was terrified of Pride for ages’

Pride, Will Young said, is a vital moment for queer folk to “look at that shame and give it back, just say it’s not for me to have”

“No one’s born with shame and it’s a really important thing for people who do feel any sense of difference to look at and find the power,” he explained.

“However they can and whenever they can, to give that back because you weren’t born with it. It took me a long time.

“Undo the brainwashing! That’s a big part of Pride I think.”

Pride in London 2019 
The Pride in London 2019 Parade passes through Piccadilly Circus. (Matthew Chattle/Barcroft Media/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

Young said he went to his first Pride in 2014. “I was terrified of Pride for ages,” he said, “you know, I’m also agoraphobic so it doesn’t help! Lockdown was amazing for me!”

But Pride is not about fitting in, Young stressed – it’s about expanding people’s horizons. “A lot of the stuff I don’t identify with maybe as a gay man,” he said.

“I don’t necessarily identify with certain things I see in the parade but it’s not just about the parade, it’s about talks, it’s about education, it’s enlightenment.

“I would like to see more [LGBT+ education] in schools,” Young added.

“I don’t think people have got it right in this country and that disappoints me a lot, but it is a lot better.”

Young told PinkNews last year that he first felt gay shame as early as aged five. Unable to name it at the time, he said: “I had a sense that I was different.

“There was a sense – which very much came from gender stereotyping – that I wasn’t a ‘normal boy’.

“I was sensitive, I was interested in what my mum was wearing, how she smelled, her jewellery, I was quick to cry.”

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