Olly Alexander, the actor and lead singer of English electronica band Years & Years performed at the annual Glastonbury Festival yesterday where he spoke about fighting homophobia. Like many Pride events over the weekend, there was a balance between grief and celebration in the face of the Orlando shooting.
Alexander has spoken about his sexuality in the past, stating that the lyrics to his music are about same-sex relationships and calling for gay pop stars to use same-sex pronouns in their songs. Decked out in rainbow gear, he begins, “As you might be able to tell by the way that I’m dressed, I’m gay. And in fact, I’m really, really, super gay.”
The singer’s declaration is met with cheers and applause, as he discusses how not all receptions to LGBTQ communities is as warm:
“What I keep thinking about is how in the last year a lot of pretty scary and messed up stuff has happened. Now, as a queer person, as queer people we know what it’s like to be scared. We know what it’s like to live with fear. As part of our every day.”
Alexander has been open in the past about his past experiences with bullying and their effect on his mental health. He recently told ES Magazine, “This is my own internalised shame, probably, but I still feel a little uncomfortable holding hands with my partner in public.” However, Alexander called for the audience to combat fear with pride and rainbows:
“But, tonight at Glastonbury, I would like to ask you to join me on Pride weekend, and say ‘no thank you fear.’ To say, ‘bye fear, bye.’ To literally shove a rainbow in fear’s face. And all I have to say to finish is, I’m here, I’m queer, and yeah sometimes I am afraid but I am never ashamed because I am proud of who I am!”
You can watch the full speech below:
— BBC Radio 1 (@BBCR1) June 26, 2016