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Declan McKenna can’t put a label on his sexuality – but pansexual might come close

"I would never have really said my sexuality is restricted to any gender."

By Will Stroude

Ever since breaking through at the age of 15 with ‘Brazil’ – a defiant protest song addressing corruption at the highest levels of football – Declan McKenna has defied categorisation.

Now 21, and setting BBC Radio 1 playlists alight with recent singles ‘Beautiful Faces’ and ‘They Key to Life on Earth’, the Enfield-born singer-songwriter is continuing to vocalise the open but outspoken mindset of Generation Z through ruminations on politics and society wrapped in deceptively poppy melodies.

If Declan’s youthful brand musical expression sounds complex, it is – and it’s an extension of his own still-evolving identity and sexuality (he famously told Attitude in 2017 he was “here to be experimented with”.

Attitude’s July issue is out now

As he poses for a self-directed shoot from lockdown for Attitude’s July issue – out now to download and to order globally – Declan opens up about his sexuality in his most candid interview yet: one that sees him reflect on school, therapy, and the often difficult transition from teenage years to your early 20s.

Of the sexual-fluidity he’s previously pointed to as an identifier, McKenna says: “It’s hard to define. I feel more confident talking about it now than I did a few years ago – I remember being asked a lot about it.

“At the time, maybe two years ago or so, I was reading up on a lot of stuff and believing myself to be individual, made up of many parts and not just this one thing.

Declan McKenna for Attitude’s July issue (Photography: Rachel Kiki; shoot directed by Declan McKenna)

“It felt very hard to pin down, but ultimately I just feel like myself. I would never have really said my sexuality is restricted to any gender or anything.”

The former winner of Glastonbury Festival’s Emerging Talent Competition goes on: “It always feels like it’s changing: how I feel and how I am.

“Though I feel a lot more settled than I was in my own skin, what I am, and what I might label myself, that was something I was very afraid to do a few years ago.

“I don’t really know why, it was just scary.”

Declan, whose second album, Zeros, is set to be released on 21 August, continues: “For me, I don’t even know if I would call it sexual fluidity these days.

“I might call it pansexual, depending on who I’m talking to. I struggle to imagine it in any other way.”

Declan McKenna for Attitude’s July issue (Photography: Rachel Kiki; shoot directed by Declan McKenna)

He adds: “I think it’s something I’ve really struggled to express when people ask me about it. But I’m a lot more comfortable now in being happy.

“I always feel like my emotions and everything is changing, and the sum of whatever is waking me up at the time, which is also always changing.

“Change is good.”

See the full shoot and interview in Attitude’s July issue, out now to download and to order globally.

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