How to be queer and happy, by Troye Sivan
Recognise those who fought for equality, take regular social media breaks, go dancing with your best gay friends, etc.
Calling the 22-year-old pop star Troye Sivan a “gay icon” at such a young age might seem like a grandiose statement to some, but he’s part of a generation that’s making sense of their sexuality in new ways. As they frantically look for ‘Coming Out’ videos on YouTube, and scour online forums in search of morsels of information that make them feel like they’re a part of a bigger community, there’s comfort in the fact that, not long ago, Troye was doing that himself.
Now out and proud of his gay identity, nobody represents pop’s new era as well as he does. Hailing from small town suburban Australia, he cut his teeth as a crazy popular YouTuber, spending his time teaching an attentive audience of millions about the pangs of Instagram and how to practice safe sex. In the midst of it all, he unleashed what would become one of the most exciting musical careers of the past decade.
There’s a moment in Troye’s Saturday Night Live performance (below) where his shirt falls off his shoulder and he smiles for a second. He campishly sits his hand on his hip, struts, grinds and flips his hair back like he truly doesn’t give a fuck what people think of him. Now we’re seeing so many of the world’s teen idols feel comfortable enough to come out of the closet, the fact that Troye’s songs are beamed straight into a million homes across America -- queerness unfiltered -- makes us super, super happy.
When we meet in the lounge of his hotel, Troye is modest, warm and ceaselessly lovely. He’s the kind of person you hope he’d be, considering how strong an impact he’s had on queer people his age. Often, he’s labelled a voice for the LGBTQ+ community, and while he politely rejects that idea (“It’s so complex, diverse and large that we need as many voices as we can”), his success still marks a huge lunge forward in radio’s palatability for stars that don’t fit inside the heteronormative shoebox.
With all of this insane attention, how does a young guy with the weight of the pop world on his shoulders manage to stay focussed and content with himself? Sipping from a cup of miso soup, Troye Sivan gave us his own tips on the best ways to stay queer and happy in 2018.
1. Go dancing (a lot) with like-minded people
“Especially in queer spaces. I’ll never forget the feeling of walking into a gay club for the first time and realising that, no matter how “gay” you feel, there will be people who feel more gay! No matter how crazy you dress, there’s someone dressing crazier than you! Being able to blend in and not feel like you’re sticking out like a sore thumb is such a relief.”
2. Take social media breaks
“It’s important for everybody’s mental health. The internet is responsible for so many brilliant things, and we’re more empathetic now having met a lot of really diverse people online who are going through different experiences to our own. But remember that there’s definitely a ‘too much’. Keep a good balance. If you’re being stressed out by your phone, turn it off. Social media exists in a separate world than the real one.”
3. Go to Pride
“Feeling a sense of community in something that was once so isolating is really liberating.”
4. Make sure your friends are the real deal
“Deep, long and loyal friendships are important. People I consider friends are the kind of people I can call when the shit hits the fan; the ones that are funny, and make me laugh all the time! I’ve only got three or four people I speak to on a daily basis, but I need them.”
5. If you’re young and lonely, remember that people will love you for you
“The world you exist in -- whether that’s your school or your town or your family -- it’s easy to feel like that’s the whole world. I can say with complete confidence that no matter who you are or how you identify or who you love, there’s a community of people out there who won’t only tolerate you, but will celebrate you, and love you for who you are.”
6. Self care is key!
“Build time into your schedule to recharge. I try and get away from everything. I won’t answer my phone, or will hole myself up in my house. Spend time with people you love -- or don’t spend time with people you love! Watch movies by yourself. Just do whatever you’ve got to do.”
7. Recognise those who fought for equality
“I had a really big moment watching How to Survive a Plague. It’s a movie about the AIDS crisis in New York City and the activism group Act-Up who highlighted it. They were throwing the ashes of their dead boyfriends on the lawn of the White House. Lying in bed watching it being like, ‘Holy shit. They did this for us’ -- it really rocked my world. I was so grateful in that moment to see these people that reminded me of myself and my friends doing something so selfless and brave.”
8. Go outside!
“Go pick up a coffee or something! Getting outside for five minutes keeps me really happy.”
9. Get to a point where you enjoy being alone
“You want to be able to sit with yourself and feel good about it. I’ve had trouble with that in the past, but now I feel like I’m in a good space where I can be alone and feel fine. It takes off the pressure and urgency of finding a partner, and keeps you out of trouble.”
10. Remember that the queer experience is the most beautiful one
“The only set requirement of being part of the LGBTQ+ community is that you’re unique; you’re your own person who’s gone off the familiar trail. I feel like I’ve found a family in that community, and I’m so, so happy to be gay!”
Troye Sivan is the best guy pop has got right now, so go and buy My, My, My and gift it to your homophobic great aunt Mary so she too can revel in the beauty of being gay as hell.