entertainment

Olly Alexander believes landscape has dramatically changed for queer artists

The Years & Years frontman was advised not to come out when he first started out

2018-04-27

Olly Alexander believes the “landscape” for queer artists has changed “dramatically”.

The openly gay frontman of Years & Years hasn’t shied away from talking about his sexuality and in their new single Sanctify it forms part of a cultural movement addressing sexuality and gender fluidity.

And Olly feels the entertainment industry has changed when it comes to the artists coming out as it isn’t a “sensationalised headline” any more.

He told the BBC: “The landscape has changed dramatically for queer artists.

“In the past, we’ve all been familiar with pop stars coming out in the middle of their careers, or after they’ve become huge and feels like a heavy narrative to queer people.

“Now it seems to be really changing; artists can be out from the start of their career, and it’s not some sort of sensationalised headline.

“Of course, there are people who still really struggle with being out, and I know some artists think it might damage their career – but I don’t think the tabloids making a splash about sexuality would still happen.

“I think – I think – we can call that progress.”

When growing up, Olly lived next door to a church and admitted it presented him with a dilemma due to the Bible’s view on homosexuality.

“I was always aware that, in the Bible, homosexuality was viewed as sinful and that’s always stayed with me,” he added.

“But I really love religious iconography and religious language because it’s so powerful and so evocative… so now I love to play around with that and subvert it.”

Recently, the singer – who is set to drop a new album in July – admitted that he was told to keep his sexuality hidden when he first started out as an artist but said he understands why as there is still a lot of stigma.

Olly said: “I understand why it’s a story. I think lots of people are shocked when they hear about homophobia, because they think, ‘Oh, it’s 2018, surely everything’s fine now?’

“But queer people know that it’s not. There so much stigma still around being who you are, and there are still so many barriers to overcome.

“So it’s an exciting time – but we’ve got a long way to go, and I think we need to stay vigilant.”