The Dazed 100 star discusses his own religious upbringing as well his reaction to Trump’s presidency as he releases a powerful new video for ‘Heaven’
In what still feels like a dystopian alternate reality, notorious pussy-grabber Donald Trump will tomorrow be inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States. Not only have pop culture heavyweights refused to perform at Trump’s Inauguration, many have responded creatively – like Dazed 100 winner Troye Sivan, whose powerful new video for “Heaven” was initially scheduled to coincide with the inauguration.
The video splices together archive footage of the gay civil rights movement in a poignant (and timely) reminder that minority communities must unite to fight discrimination. These themes tie into the song’s lyrical journey of self-acceptance and, more specifically, the idea that Sivan’s sexuality rendered him a ‘sinner’ by default.
In an emotional handwritten note exploring the track’s themes, the star details the questions he asked himself growing up (“if there is a God, does he hate me?”) and his eventual conclusion. “If there is a heaven but I can’t be myself up there, then maybe I don’t want heaven.” In response to this crucial and refreshingly personal artistic statement, we reached out to discuss Sivan’s own religious upbringing as well as the ongoing fight for queer acceptance.
‘Heaven’ deals heavily with religion. Was this a topic you thought about often throughout your adolescence?
Troye Sivan: Fairly often, yes. I grew up traditionally Jewish, went to a Jewish school, had a bar maitzvah and the lot. I think unfortunately (or fortunately) my coming out and my drifting from religion happened at around the same time. Having a ‘sin’ on my chest before even waking up in the morning didn’t sit right with me. I understand and appreciate that there are plenty of religious LGBTQ+ people, but for me and my probably fairly basic understanding, that was an issue. Today, I enjoy being culturally very Jewish, but I find little in the religious side.
The video was initially scheduled to coincide with Trump’s inauguration. Can you tell us more about the reasons behind this?
Troye Sivan: I think at first I was a little heartbroken for the world over the results of this election. I feel like I’ve moved on toward accepting the result. I’ve also moved on toward accepting that my community is going to have to bind together stronger than ever before and fight harder than ever before to continue our journey towards complete acceptance. This video is the first step in that (direction) for me.
“My coming out and my drifting from religion happened at around the same time. Having a ‘sin’ on my chest before even waking up in the morning didn’t sit right with me” – Troye Sivan
Do you think it’s now more important than ever for LGBTQ+ artists to discuss the issues still faced by the community?
Troye Sivan: I do think so, yes. Of course it’s a personal choice what one does and does not speak out on, but I would recommend that we all speak louder than ever and not become complacent.
Did you feel you were ever asked to compromise your identity when growing up?
Troye Sivan: To be honest, not really – only ever by myself. Since the day I accepted myself and started talking about it, everyone has seemed pretty cool about it.
How did the collaboration with Betty Who come about?
Troye Sivan: I wrote the song with Alex Hope and Jack Antonoff, and I felt it needed a female vocal. I’m a huge fan; she’s a friend, a huge ally to the community, and I think she brought such a special tone to the song.
“Have faith that there’s someone out there who will absolutely love you just as you are, but you have to learn to love yourself first” – Troye Sivan
Do you think LGBTQ+ visibility within the media is improving?
Troye Sivan: I do think so. We still have a long way to go, but we’re getting there!
What message would you give to anyone struggling to come to terms with their identity?
Troye Sivan: Take your time. There’s no rush. Have faith that there’s someone out there who will absolutely love you just as you are, but you have to learn to love yourself first.