Since beginning his career with Youtube videos nearly a decade ago, Australian singer Troye Sivan has become a powerful voice in promoting equality. Now Sivan’s work in the LGBTQ community has earned him a spot in history, with the 21-year-old artist set to become the youngest recipient of the Stephen F. Kolzak award.
The accolade, which has been received by fellow Australian Ruby Rose as well as Ellen Degeneres, Laverne Cox and Sir Ian McKellen, celebrates individuals “making a significant difference in promoting equality and acceptance,” according to Entertainment Tonight.
“Troye Sivan embodies a generation of LGBTQ youth who are unapologetic, outspoken, and proud to be who they are,” GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis in a statement to E.T.
“He has quickly become a leading voice of his generation and sends a message of hope and empowerment with every song, music video, and social post.”
Sivan’ goal of breaking down boundaries was realised even before he was elevated to pop-star status. After coming out to his family a few years earlier, speaking honestly about his experience to his ever-growing YouTube fan base was the next step in his “journey of self–discovery,” one that saw him come out online at the age of 18.
Using his platforms to share advice and his story has been all been part of the journey. In a Rolling Stones interview, the former child star said one of the toughest parts of coming out is admitting it to yourself. And while he grew up in an accepting environment Sivan said it is important to create safe spaces, without fear, rejection and danger.
“The first step and the hardest step is coming out to yourself,” he says. “Realising who you are and your identity.”
He continued, “once you’ve gotten past that process – make sure you’re in a safe environment. And if you feel it is a safe environment, I would highly, highly recommend coming out. I can speak from personal experience and say it’s been the best thing I’ve ever done in my entire life.”
Being open was also a crucial element in his career progression, with the star worried if he wasn’t out, record executives might encourage him to stay closeted to create a persona. The internet however gave power to Sivan, as it has done to others when it comes to gender and sexuality.
“Representation is so, so important,” he says. “I’m trying to just be honest and open and there’s a lot of power in that.”
And while advances towards increasing the visibility of the LGBT community have been made in the industry, influential figures like Sivan are important in fighting for acceptance when it comes to displaying queer romance and struggles with sexuality in popular culture. Sivan moves are calculated, including releasing his powerful music video for Heaven on Trump’s Inauguration Day.
“I’ve realised how, in being a loud voice for myself, there are other people like me who will see that and appreciate it,” Troye told Hari Nef in an interview for Teen Vogue. “All I’ve ever wanted growing up was someone I could look at and say, ‘Oh, that person’s like me.'”
Sivan has used his star platform and his voice to make a difference on a grass root level too, including visiting a homeless shelter for LBGTQ youth in New York and celebrating the abolishing of Queensland’s so-called “gay panic” legal defence, which he and his mother were strong advocates against.
“I want to do my best to give the voice that I’ve been given to somebody who maybe wouldn’t have had that voice otherwise. Now I’m going to try my very hardest to pass my baton to the next person who’s even more other than me,” he says.
Sivan has also showed his support for QANTAS’ new #EqualityIsVisibility campaign on social media as well as featuring on the company’s float at this year’s Mardi Gras celebration. Other social media users were inspired by Sivan’s affiliation, posting their own stories and interpretation of equality.
The GLAAD Media Awards will take place on April 1 in Los Angeles.
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