For out singer-songwriter Troye Sivan, music and gay activism go hand in glove
SCOTT HUFFMAN | Contributing Writer
It is immediately apparent that Troye Sivan the 21-year-old out singer/songwriter and social media star — possesses youthful good looks, a blended Australian/South African accent and colorful fingernails. Only upon speaking with him, however, does the pop star’s most striking characteristic emerge so clearly: His unassuming nature. In fact, Sivan makes his recent fame seem rather unanticipated.
“I hoped I would get to this level, but I wasn’t sure,” Sivan says about his swelling music career. “Now, I’m very secure and happy with how things are going. I think the moment it hit me that things had really taken on a life of their own was at the  Billboard Music Awards. [I felt] the gravity of that moment. That was when I was like, ‘OK, I can relax a little bit.’”
On Oct. 26, Sivan returns to Dallas, bringing his Suburbia Tour to the South Side Ball Room. While he is reluctant to give away too many secrets about what audiences can expect, he teases that his setlist will include a couple of songs that he has not previously performed live. It is also a safe bet that he will perform crowd favorites like “Wild” and “Youth,” popular tracks from his debut studio album, Blue Neighbourhood.
“I am so excited for this tour,” Sivan gushes. “I think it’s going to be such a huge step up from the last show and the last time I played. It feels like a real show now. We’ve stepped up production. There are new songs. The band is better than ever. I feel more confident than ever. I hope to have a really amazing night with everyone.”
The changes don’t stop there, either. On this tour, Sivan has teamed with The Ally Coalition, an advocacy group supporting LGBTQ causes and fighting against discrimination through education and awareness. The fit is a natural one, and together the two plan to spotlight issues relevant to each community along the tour.
“In every city, we are going to try to work with them [The Ally Coalition] on something cool and exciting,” Sivan says. “We are going to try our best, in venues that will let us, to have gender neutral bathrooms. We may ask audiences to bring items of clothing or blankets or pillows for LGBT homeless youth in that city. We are going to be working with them in a huge variety of ways in order to make this tour a way to kind of give back.”
Comfortable now in his sexuality and his outness, Sivan cannot imagine being closeted. But it was only about five years ago that he anticipated his sexuality might need to remain a carefully guarded secret. Then a casual conversation with a close friend sparked Sivan’s coming out. The moment was unexpected, stunning both Sivan and the friend in whom he confided.
“I think I surprised myself when I was like 15 and told one of my best friends way before I was ever ready,” Sivan recalls about his coming out.
“We were just talking about deep dark secrets that we had. I was like, ‘There is this one thing that I kind of thought about.’ After a lot of coaxing, I ended up telling her that day even though I wasn’t ready. I ended up crying a lot, and we didn’t speak about it again for like six months.”
Today, Sivan reaches a broad and young audience. The fresh-faced popstar has inadvertently become an ambassador of sorts for the gay community. Sivan does not take the charge lightly, nor does he consider it burdensome.
“[It’s] absolutely a blessing,” he says. “I’m just so lucky to have been born when I was born and to be doing this in 2016. I think these kinds of opportunities for out artists just didn’t exist before. I’m very thankful, and I take that responsibility very seriously, actually.”
With an album, two concert tours, and a strong social media following, Sivan has become celebrated in fairly short order. Yet not everyone immediately recognizes the lanky crooner. An Uber driver, for example, recently had no clue about her young passenger’s identity.
“‘Youth’ was on the radio,” Sivan says, “and I told the driver that this was my song. She was like, ‘OK,’ but she didn’t really know what I meant. Then she listened and looked at me and listened more and was like, ‘Oh! This is your song!’ She turned it up and we jammed together.”
A few of Sivan’s public interactions, however, have been scarier. He recalls one instance in which a fan made his way past security and walked backstage into the dressing room after a show. It was a sobering moment.
“I just thought he was a friend of the drummer,” Sivan recounts. “I asked him, ‘Who is that guy? Is that your friend?’ And he was like, ‘No, I thought that he was your friend.’ We kind of all looked around at each other and we got the message at the same time that this person wasn’t just was not supposed to be there at all.”
In any event, Sivan is grateful for his devoted fans, a group he says is comprised mostly of young adult females and gay men of all ages. He attributes a great deal of his success to his LGBT fan base. Indeed, Sivan is honored by his gay following.
“I really appreciate their support because I think it’s a fine line to walk” he says. “I don’t want anyone ever to think that I feel like I am the voice for any community or anything like that. I don’t think that at all. I want to try my very best to be honest and totally open about who I am. For the LGBT community to say we like what you are doing, it feels good. It feels like I’m on the right track.”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 14, 2016.