Olly Alexander of Years + Years Says Entire Music Industry Guilty of Homophobia
Years & Years frontman Olly Alexander is loudly and proudly queer across the group's excellent new album Palo Santo, but the pop star's hardly convinced that the music industry — or a world of fans around him — are so readily accepting his true self.
In a new interview with Paper, Alexander says 2018 represents a dichotomy of success and struggle for LGBTQ+ artists — on one hand, they have more visibility than ever. On the other hand, they're still eclipsed by straight artists with little proof that they can break through pop culture's glass ceiling.
"In many ways, this is the very best time to be a gay artist ever," he said. "We wouldn't be where we are today without all the gay artists that have come before us and broken down so many barriers. But barriers aren't gone. Particularly for less privileged members of the queer community. There is this very insidious casual homophobia that exists in the fabric of everything including the music industry.”
Alexander added that with very few exceptions, queer artists are still groomed to believe that they'll never be able to match up with their more conservative peers.
“Labels and people in positions of power pay lip service to supporting LGBTQ artists. And that's great,” he noted. “But when are we going to see a gay artist really thrive and succeed? Selling out arenas, hitting number ones. I guess that kind of happened with Sam Smith, but I just think from my personal experience, the amount of comments like 'Oh, this is very gay' or 'This is going to turn some people off' is a real problem.”
Either way, Alexander is going full steam ahead with his sincere identity.
“I would hesitate to say, Yes, I'm engineering this brave new frontier of queer music to infiltrate the masses with my gay agenda,” he said. "But that's kind of what I want to do and has always been one of my goals. Now seems like the right time."