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Singer Hayley Kiyoko Speaks Out on LGBTQ Advocacy & Empowering Her Fans

by SUSAN PASCAL

At 28, not only is Hayley Kiyoko a versatile actress, singer/songwriter, and music video director, she has become an outspoken advocate for the LGBTQ community, and her fans love her for it. Anointed with the lofty title of “Lesbian Jesus,” Kiyoko has made it her mission to empower her fans as well as young people currently struggling with their sexuality.

Kiyoko, a self-labeled lesbian, publicly explored her sexuality with the release of her hit single “Girls Like Girls” in 2015. She also co-directed the music video–featuring two girls harboring a mutual crush–and it completely changed the trajectory of her career. 

Today, Kiyoko is an LGBTQ icon, having recently appeared on the cover of Billboard’s Pride issue. She also just released her latest single, “I Wish,” about unrequited love. [Watch the video below.]

We spoke with Kiyoko about why she’s using her platform to speak out and inspire hope for those desperately seeking support.

 

1. Your hit song/video “Girls Like Girls” specifically references your sexuality. Was it difficult to come out so publicly?

I didn’t necessarily think of it as coming out at the time. I felt like the song was part of my truth and also just a great, catchy pop song. Releasing the video for “Girls Like Girls” was a little bit scary for me though, which is partly why I didn’t appear in it. Growing up, I felt really isolated and vulnerable, but after the song and video went viral and people started to see themselves represented in the story, I started to feel more validated and less judgmental of myself. As soon as I learned to not judge myself, the coming out process became a lot easier.

2. You recently headlined the cover of Billboard's Pride issue with some heavy hitters – Adam Lambert, Tegan Quin, Big Freedia and Ilovemakonnen. Why do you feel it’s so important to be an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ+ and how do you respond to the title, “Lesbian Jesus” from your beloved fans?

It’s funny because at first, I really just wanted the opportunity to be seen, heard, and accepted as a musician, but now I have an entirely different perspective. I feel a deep responsibility to use my platform to speak out and inspire hope for those desperately seeking support. I will always be so grateful for the title of “Lesbian Jesus,” but I am even more grateful for the supportive community of fans that has been built around it.

3. What positive message would you like to give young people who are currently struggling with their sexuality?

A lot of the time, we are going through our own struggle and we feel like no one else is feeling that way. I want young people to know that their feelings are valid and important and they aren’t alone. Accepting yourself is not always easy and it’s hard work. But it’s so important to always remember that you are worthy and deserve to find happiness.

4. What’s up next for you in music/film/videos?

I’m going to keep on making music, directing my own music videos, and touring. I would also love to direct my first feature. I just love storytelling and having the opportunity to keep doing what I’ve been doing but on a bigger platform would be a dream.

SUSAN PASCAL

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