Years & Years’ Frontman Olly Alexander Says His Record Label Wanted Him To Stay Closeted

Deputy Music Editor

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Pop music has long been a realm that celebrated self-expression and identity. With figures like David Bowie, Madonna, and Freddie Mercury preceding our current wave of artists, the idea that an artist would be asked to hide who they’re attracted to feels particularly antiquated. But that’s just what was asked of Years & Years’ frontperson Olly Alexander early in his career before the group took off. As Billboard points out, Olly was speaking as the keynote at the Stonewall Equality Dinner on Friday night when this story came up, and it feels particularly surprising considering how open he has been about his sexuality for the past several years.

“She said, with very good intentions I’m sure: ‘Why does anybody need to know about your sexuality?'” Alexander said of his media trainer, who encouraged him to stay in the closet. “‘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.’”

Alexander obviously ignored that advice, choosing instead to stick up for the person he had been in the past by refusing to be closeted in the future. “I realized I needed to say that for my 15-year-old self,” he said. “I needed to say to him, ‘Look, we are not hiding anymore,’” he said.

“We don’t get equality until we all have equality,” he added. “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.”

Years & Years recently shared new music in the form “Sanctify,” and have a sophomore album expected soon.

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