It’s hard to believe that Troye Sivan, the 21-year-old pop singer of hits like “Wild” and “Youth,” once posted videos of himself waxing his legs and getting makeovers onto his YouTube page. In the last ten years, the Australian social media star has grown up quite a bit — he’s released four EPs and a studio album, starred in movies like “X-Men Origins,” and amassed nearly five million Twitter followers along the way.
But Sivan doesn’t take his star power for granted — since coming out publicly back in 2013, he’s been an outspoken voice for LGBTQ youth. Currently on tour promoting his album “Blue Neighbourhood,” Sivan is donating a portion of ticket sales to The Ally Coalition, a US-based organization that supports LGBTQ causes through education, awareness and advocacy. He calls us from Montreal after a soundcheck to talk about his “Suburbia” tour, sexual identity and the U.S. election.
How are you feeling about the results of the recent U.S. election?
When I was back in the states, everyone thought there was no way Trump would become president. I haven’t been back since the election, so I don’t know what the vibe is right now. But I’m hoping everyone’s alright. We’re in scary times. Everyone has to come together and remind themselves what’s important to them and try and actively fight for that. I think we’re going to have to fight a little bit harder than we’ve had to fight for the last eight years.
You’ve had a massive career based in social media and YouTube — how has that prepared you for a music career?
I don’t there’s necessarily a way anyone can be prepared for this kind of thing. What it did was it made me feel comfortable. When I played my first show, I felt support from the crowd and all my nerves melted away. The people in that room were the same people who had been following and supporting me online for so many years. It made what I think would have been a really daunting and terrifying thing a lot more comfortable.
A portion of ticket sales are going toward The Ally Coalition — can you talk about the organization?
The Ally Coalition helps out LGBT causes and communities around the United States. We’re working with them to figure out what each city needs so we can help out. We’ve asked fans to help volunteer at the shows — whether that’s setting up gender-neutral bathrooms in the venues or asking everyone to bring things like socks and canned food to donate to LGBTQ-friendly shelters.
Your “Blue Neighbourhood” music video series is about the struggles same-sex couples face. What was filming like?
I saw it as an opportunity to tell a story and spread a message. Around 2008, the “It Gets Better” program started and became a hot topic on everyone’s list. Then I felt like the conversation about LGBTQ suicide died down a little bit. I didn’t want to get complacent. It was something that was still happening, so I wanted to remind people that it was still an issue at hand.
I also wanted to speak not only to LGBTQ people, but the people who surround them so I could show them the weight and impact their words have on their LGBTQ loved ones. When someone comes out or expresses they’re not straight or cisgendered, your reaction is really imperative and can make or break that person’s happiness. I came out and have not had a single issue at all — if anything, it’s been a positive on my life and on my family’s life. Those same circumstances with a different family member or unsupportive school can really shift something for a young LGBTQ person and end catastrophically. I wanted to make people aware of that weight they have.
So do you feel like most of your inspiration for songwriting comes from your sexual identity?
There are definitely other things that inspire me. The only song that’s really about my coming out experience was “Heaven.” The rest of the album is about love, growing up, and moving away from home. There aren’t really LGBTQ themes other than the fact that I’m a gay person writing about that stuff.