Troye is on the cover Teen Vogue’s Young Love Volume 1 Issue. Photos from the photoshoot that are featured in the magazine have been added to the gallery. Make sure to check those out and click “Read the rest of the article” to read the interview he did On Queerness, Representation, and the Power of Music.
Interview: On Queerness, Representation, and the Power of Music
The star sits down with friend and actor Hari Nef for an intimate conversation
Last year we lost three men of the ’80s who redefined what it meant to be a rock star: David Bowie, Prince, and George Michael. Through their music, videos, and fashion choices, each man bucked conventional norms of masculinity, transcending gender norms and sexuality to create not just singles but art.
In 2017, we have Troye Sivan, an openly (and unapologetically) gay pop star, living proof to the entire industry that, yes, the world is finally ready. Here, Troye shares an intimate conversation with his dear friend Hari Nef, the transgender model and actor who’s creating a new normal in her own right.
Hari Nef: So much of my experience is exactly what you’re talking about. I think it’s this invisible private thing, but it’s so important. I wanted to talk about your coming-out video, which seems like this pivotal moment for you personally. You posted it three years ago, and it has more than 7 million views. What inspired you to make the video?
Troye Sivan:I used to go on YouTube and search “coming out.” That was something I did on almost a daily basis for a long time. After I came out to my family, I felt like I owed so much to that community and what I think is a sacred part of YouTube. I also happened to have a big audience at the time—I’d been making videos since I was, like, 12, so I was thinking I could use this platform to really go for it. By the time I made that video, I was out to my friends and my family for well over a year. I’d been so comfortable with myself that the thoughTroye Sivan of strangers didn’t bother me at all, but I was nervous from a career point of view. I was well aware of the fact that most of my fans were girls, and I thought I might lose them.
Hari Nef:Coming out is so fascinating to me because on one hand, it’s this beautiful channel of communication that you establish between you and the people in your life, but I struggle with it. I think that it centers straight people, cis people, and people who aren’t out because we are who we are regardless of who we tell.
Troye Sivan: I know what you’re saying. Before I came out, the thought of someone calling me gay, even when I knew very well that I was, was petrifying. I saw coming out as a way to take control of that situation and own it. I was in negotiations to sign my record deal and had heard horror stories of people who are told to stay in the closet by people in the entertainment industry because it’s better for work. For my own sanity, that wasn’t going to fly. Instead, I woke up to a congratulations e-mail, and everything was all good—I’m really grateful that my label was with me from day one.
Hari Nef:Coming out shows that as LGBTQ folks, we are ever resilient, and this is a compromise between living authentically to our own sense of self and living within a cisgender heteropatriarchy. Post–coming out, I really admired you because I struggle off and on with the pressure and responsibility of being a public person and a member of the LGBTQ community at the same time. What’s your secret?
Troye Sivan:I’ve realized how, in being a loud voice for myself, there are other people like me who will see that and appreciate it. All I’ve ever wanted growing up was someone I could look at and say, ‘Oh, that person’s like me.’
Hari Nef: After the world learned of you as a queer artist, did you ever feel pressure to speak on things for an entire…I guess I’m just projecting now.
Troye Sivan:I think where you can get caught up is in thinking that your voice is more valuable than anyone else’s. I’m very aware of the fact that I literally think I’m the most privileged kid on the planet. A lot of being a good voice is knowing when I have a place to speak and when it’s appropriate. And to speak from the heart when I do.
Hari Nef: Obviously, queerness plays a role in music. The same way I feel like I was put on this earth to be an actress and a model, I think you were put on this planet to be a pop star. But how do you make a supervulnerable song, like “Heaven,” and bring it onstage in front of thousands of people night after night? If I’m acting and I bring too much of myself to the role, it becomes unsustainable for me to work within the character as a professional.
Troye Sivan:I love pop music. I think that pop should never be a dirty word. To me, [songs are] like living things that grow and change as I do. “Heaven” was written when I was 19, and it was about my coming-out experience from when I was 15. I felt a little emotional when I was writing it, and I had to think about things I hadn’t felt in a really long time. Then it became about something completely different when I hit the road. When I’m onstage, I’m looking out and I’m seeing all of these other people’s stories. I’m feeling their hardships and successes—I can see it in their faces, in their eyes.
Hari Nef: Your fans love you so much, and they look to you as a role model. What is your responsibility to them, but also within that, what is your responsibility to yourself?
Troye Sivan:I’m just trying to show people that you can be queer, live your life, and be happy. But I want to tell a lot more than just my story, because I feel like it’s almost boring. I’ve been given this platform, and 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. I feel like I lucked out that I was born at the right time, that now the world is ready for an openly gay male pop singer. Now I’m going to try my very hardest to pass my baton to the next person who’s even more other than me.
Hari Nef:The last weekend we hung out, I think we were all grieving a little bit. It was right after the election, and we went to a Trump protest together in Boston. That was a special and unforgettable experience for me to be with people I love so much at a time when there was so much pain around us. What have you been feeling since the election? I know you’re Australian, but I think it’s touched all of us.
Troye Sivan:It has touched all of us. I plan on spending a lot of my life in the United States, [but] I think I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve accepted defeat in the fact that Donald Trump is going to be president. But it doesn’t change my opinion. I let myself grieve for a little bit, but the most comforting thought in the world to me is that LGBTQ people have always existed. To think of all of the hardships and all the regimes that LGBTQ people have survived—we are such fighters. I have faith in us as a people. I know that we can survive this.
Hari Nef: I think that’s the right approach. We need to move forward and protect one another and survive under what I can only call a regime. It needs to start with the people around us and the resources that we can fortify locally. So I would say I’m right there with you. I guess speaking more broadly, looking toward the future, what’s next in 2017 for Troye Sivan?
Troye Sivan: I am looking forward to not being the center of my own world. A few times the past couple years, I’ve looked around the room and asked, “Why are all these people around me?” So a lot of 2017 is going to be about being a good loved one to others. I know that everything could change, I could release a flop album tomorrow, my career can go down the toilet, I could lose all my friends and go back home…and I know that my family would still be there for me and still be able to bring me such joy, connectivity, and peace in my life. To be honest, it all comes down to family. For me, that’s it.