GLAAD, an organization that advocates for LGBTQ+ equality, recently announced that Australian singer-songwriter Troye Sivan will be honored at the 28th Annual GLAAD Media Awards with the Stephen F. Kolzak award for “making a significant difference in promoting equality and acceptance.” At only 21 years old, Sivan will become the youngest recipient of the award, an honor which has also been given to icons such as Ruby Rose, Ellen DeGeneres and Laverne Cox.
Sivan started on YouTube, posting a variety of videos ranging from covers to Q&As, and was later discovered by EMI Australia through an original song he uploaded to his channel. At 18, he began making music professionally and released his first major-label EP, TRXYE, in August 2014. His second major-label EP, Wild, was released in September 2015 and was quickly followed by his debut album Blue Neighbourhood. The album’s first single, “Youth,” became Sivan’s first song to enter the top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. After releasing his album, Sivan completed two major tours, entitled the Blue Neighbourhood Tour and the Suburbia Tour.
Since posting a coming out video on his YouTube channel in 2013, Sivan has been an integral voice for the LGBTQ+ community. His YouTube channel became an open conversation between himself and his viewers about his own experiences being gay, as well as many other issues concerning the LGBTQ+ community. Alongside his coming out video, Sivan has uploaded videos such as “Coming Out (Part 2),” “Let’s Talk About Sex” and “Is It Easier To Get AIDS If You’re Gay?” Through his videos, Sivan has not only educated his audience on important topics that are often deemed taboo but has also led countless LGBTQ+ people, especially youth (no pun intended), to be proud of who they are and how they identify.
Sivan recognizes the influence he has on an increasingly large audience and uses every opportunity he has to amplify the voices and normalize the struggles of those who are alienated by a largely close-minded society. His album features a song, “HEAVEN,” that centers around the emotions he felt while coming to terms with his sexuality. In an interview with OUT Magazine, Sivan explained: “When I first started to realize that I might be gay, I had to ask myself all these questions- these really really terrifying questions. Am I ever going to find someone? Am I ever going to be able to have a family? If there is a God, does that God hate me? If there is a heaven, am I ever going to make it to heaven?” He went on to say he decided “If there is a heaven, but I can’t be myself up there, then maybe I don’t want heaven.” In January 2017, Sivan released a music video to “HEAVEN,” which focuses on how far LGBTQ+ activism has come and how far there still is to go. Sivan’s various other music videos, such as the Blue Neighbourhood Trilogy, WILD ft. Alessia Cara and YOUTH, echo the honesty of “HEAVEN,” unapologetically depicting Sivan with other male love interests. Sivan stated: “I really want the parents of my audience to see these videos and realize that their reaction influences their kid’s entire coming out experience.”
During his most recent tour, Sivan partnered with the Ally Coalition and donated a portion of all ticket sales to help advocate for more LGBTQ+ inclusive schools. Each show on the tour also included a partnership with a local nonprofit organization focused on helping the LGBTQ+ community, such as Safe Place for Youth in Los Angeles, The Resource Center in Dallas and Project Fierce in Chicago. Fans were asked to bring donations for these organizations, such as deodorant, lightly used prom wear and new socks.
Sivan’s concerts never fail to provide a safe, accepting environment for LGBTQ+ youth. From things as seemingly simple as boys being able to wear makeup without judgment to fans coming out, Sivan’s audience mirrors his efforts to encourage others to be unashamed of who they are. I, personally, have had the privilege of attending nearly half a dozen of his concerts in the past year, and can attest that there is no community more inclusive than a that of a Troye Sivan concert.
Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD president and CEO, stated:
“Troye Sivan embodies a generation of LGBTQ youth who are unapologetic, and proud to be who they are.”
She continued, saying “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.”
The GLAAD Media Awards will be held on April 1 at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles, California.