Years and Years star Olly Alexander was told to stay silent on sexuality
- Bang Showbiz
- 19 March 2018
Years & Years singer Olly Alexander has revealed he was told not to be open about being a homosexual man when his band was first signed
Years & Years singer Olly Alexander was told not to speak about his sexuality when he started out in the music business.
The 'Shine' hitmaker has revealed that when his synthpop band was first signed he was told during media training to stay silent about being homosexual.
And although he is certain that the advice was given with "good intentions", Olly "ignored" it because he was determined to be out and proud as gay man and wanted to his music to inspire others to accept their sexuality.
Speaking at a fundraising event for LGBTQ charity Stonewall, he recalled: "She said, with very good intentions I'm sure, 'Why does anybody need to know about your sexuality? What business is it who you go to bed with? Do you really want to invite personal questions like that? Maybe it's better to not say anything about your sexuality at all.'
"I ignored her advice. When a journalist did ask me about my sexuality, I said, 'Yes, I'm gay and this song is about a man.' I needed to say that for my 15 year old self. I needed to say to him, 'Look, we are not hiding any more.' "
Olly, 27, suffered verbal and physical homophobic abuse when he was growing up in Coleford, Gloucestershire, in South West England, and after achieving pop fame he made a BBC documentary about his experiences, called 'Growing Up Gay'.
The songwriter knew he'd done the right thing by sharing his story when he received countless messages from fans who were experiencing the same homophobia.
Olly said: "I got so many messages from fans who wanted to share their story, who were struggling with their sexuality or gender identity, had problems at school or at home. I was honestly quite shocked at the extent of pain people were struggling with. I felt like I was hearing an alarm bell ringing. A cry for help that was largely going ignored. That is why I continue to speak out. We have to listen and learn from each other to lift each other up, so we can all live the life we deserve."
Olly gave his talk in front of a star-studded audience, which included Little Mix star Jade Thirlwall, June Sarpong, British Olympic swimmer Mark Foster, TV presenter Gaby Roslin, fashion expert Gok Wan and author and trans activist Juno Dawson.
The gala dinner was held in London to mark the 30th anniversary of the introduction of Section 28 of the 1988 Local Government Act. The law stated that councils should not "intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality" in their schools or other areas of their work.
The ruling was met with protests by gay rights and equality campaigners and it was eventually repealed by the devolved administration in Scotland in 2000 and by the UK government for England and Wales in 2003.