Adam Lambert, Hayley Kiyoko, Tegan Quin, ILoveMakonnen & Big Freedia Discuss Activism, Gender Identity & More | Billboard Pride

Butin TrumpAugust 8, 2019

You all show up for the LGBTQ community in many ways, but I’m guessing you also don’t want your identity to overshadow your work. How do you approach visibility without letting the industry put you in a box?

Tegan Quin: It has been a double whammy throughout our career because I got put into the lesbian box, but also there’s something inherently uncomfortable about always talking about your sexuality with your twin. When we started, it was really strange to be sitting predominantly with straight men like, “So, you’re 18 and gay. Do you guys want to talk about that?” And it was always like, “Not really!” Not because I wasn’t proud, but because it was just awkward.

Adam Lambert: When I started my professional journey, in the mainstream media there weren’t a lot of [queer] people, so that was the thing the media wanted to talk about. I loved talking about it, but at the same time I was like, “Can it not precede me?”

Hayley Kiyoko: It’s so hard to come out to yourself, so I was like, “I don’t want to have to go through this process again.” I tried the best I could to utilize my art to tell people who I was. It is so difficult to love yourself, and then to have to explain yourself to people? It can be challenging.Big Freedia: Definitely. The first 10 years of my journey, I was still figuring out who I was, and then I had to redo it all over again when I became bigger. So instead of saying, “I’m gay and this is me,” I started telling the story through my music. You want to pull back sometimes, but it’s hard. I can’t pull back. I’m 6 foot 3, I’m tall, and I’m gay. I light up the room.

iLoveMakonnen: Same for me. In hip-hop, it wasn’t very supported to come out, so I knew this would be a big thing for me. But we are on the main stage of the world, and to act like [queer artists in hip-hop] don’t exist? A lot of people in the industry get their creative inspiration from the gays but don’t want to give it up to the gays. Somebody needs to be talking about these issues and showing that you can be yourself.