Musician Darren Hayes recently sat down with Tracy E. Gilchrist of Advocate Today to talk about his music and how he rediscovered joy as a queer person after facing sorrow in order to celebrate the release of his first album in more than ten years.
Australian-born Hayes, who spent a number of years as the lead man for the pop duet Savage Garden, issued his debut solo album in 2002. Despite having quit the music business in 2012, he said he is overjoyed to start up his musical career once more.
“It’s such a beautiful feeling,” Hayes shares. “Because I really thought that I had retired…I’ve had an extraordinary life, I started when I was very young, but I was kind of burnt out. And there are lots of reasons why I stepped away, but I took ten years off. So, to come back, it’s very unexpected and very joyful. It’s a wonderful thing.”
Hayes never felt he could completely be himself at the pinnacle of his profession, despite marrying his spouse in 2004, the year before civil unions became legal in the UK. In honor of the years he battled internalized homophobia, he is now releasing his fifth studio album, Homosexual.
“I’m aware it’s a very provocative word. And I’m fifty, so for me, my associations with that word are very traumatic,” Hayes says. “Growing up in Australia in the 1970s, I have an association with that word which is obviously the clinical, negative stereotypes that came with it…There are whole generations of queer people who have very negative reactions to that word.”
Hayes, despite his exile, grew up during the Reagan period, when the LGBTQ+ community was being decimated by the HIV virus. At the time, terms like “homosexual” or “queer” were derogatory; today, they serve as the title of his work.
“Using this word was a way for me to break free of my own journey and association with that word,” he explains. “To show that I am proud.”