Glastonbury Festival is back in full swing this year after a two-year hiatus due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and what better time to look back at one of the most memorable moments from the music festival’s history.
Years & Years star Olly Alexander shared a powerful speech to mark Pride month in 2019 and the importance of being his authentic self in his performances and daily life.
Standing in front of large text on the stage reading ‘Queer is beautiful’, he began: ‘I talk about being gay – you might have already noticed some of the subtle messaging on stage – but I’m gay and I talk about being gay kind of a lot.
‘I’m sure some people wish I would shut up about it sometimes, but I have my reasons and some of them are personal, because I spent such a long time wishing I wasn’t gay, being ashamed of that, so now it’s like I’m making up for lost time, you know?”
His performance at the music festival came days after the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, a series of protests held by members of the gay community in 1969 after a police raid at the Stonewall Inn in New York.
Olly, who will also perform at this year’s festival, continued: ‘The only reason I’m even able to be up here talking about my gay self is because of all the people that have came before me that fought for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
‘Sometimes we are referred to as the acronym LBGT, sometimes LGBTQ+, I personally like to use the word queer, but lots of people don’t like that word, and that’s because the word has a complicated and painful history. And whether we like it or not, history really matters.’
He educated the crowd on what Stonewall was and the importance of remembering the history that preceded performances like his, adding: ‘The reality is that the lives of LGBT people are as varied and as complex as anyone else’s, but they are under a very real threat.
‘The fight for equality began before the Stonewall riots, it continues today and it will go on until tomorrow, into the future. But the future is not fixed. And our histories cannot predict what tomorrow might bring or what we might do with it.
‘I believe that everybody here has the chance to change history. We change history every day, and it’s up to each and every one of us if we want to change the world.
‘I believe there is no true LGBT equality until the fight against racism is over, against sexism is over, against ableism, bigotry, climate change… if we want to get anywhere without leaving anybody behind, we’re going to have to help each other out.’