I was wrong when I wrote the song from my album with Wired, “A New Hope”.
“If I was free to live, to love, to wrap my arms around you then maybe I could breathe…”
Back in 2003, aged 19, it was the first time I’d really thought about gay marriage and so I began to process what it felt like to know that the possibility of it was so unlikely. The song was about many such frustrations – the frustration of the betrayal of my generation by my parents’ generation who had removed free tertiary education in the UK, frustration in the struggle to get anyone to take you seriously as an emerging artist, the frustration at being told what kind of artist to be in order to be marketable, the frustration inherent in low paid work, but it was the desperation I felt at the thought of any relationships I would have being barred from legal protection. It was a reality back then as it still is for so many in the world. Then in 2006, civil partnerships came into existence in the UK. I had been so tied up in the quagmire of the times that I lost faith it would ever change, but it did. I was wrong.
There would never be any gay characters to play if I became an actor
At my school, going to university was expected of you, and getting into the top universities was essential. I started worrying about university at the age of 15. Why? I wanted to be a singer and an actor, but I was losing my voice to mental and physical illness. I knew that I wasn’t photogenic or sexy enough to be a singer that couldn’t really sing – I wasn’t a Backstreet Boy, so with a failing voice I knew I had to look at other options. Truth is, I couldn’t pick one. I went to see our career officer Sheila every week with a different idea, and I oscillated from one extreme plan to another, never able to settle on one. My English and Drama teacher, Mr Bush, whom I adored was the first person to say that “obviously [you’ll] be applying to Drama school”, and I told him no. Why? Because I didn’t want to spend a career – if I could even meet the luck to be able to develop one – playing some camp artistocrat in a bad Restoration comedy. There would never be any good gay parts, particularly on TV, the medium I’ve adored above all others since I was a little boy; not for a camp, ginger-haired Brit. I’d have to be slim, tall, sexy and Northern since then the only example we had to go by was Queer as Folk or Will & Grace. Well, now there are gay characters EVERYWHERE (Thank God!) And if there’s anyone I would like to thank for changing what gay characters had to look like it would be Eric Stonestreet, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and the amazing people behind Modern Family. It’s just the beginning of normalising gay characters and showing diversity. Maybe now would be the time to re-evaluate becoming an actor?
Country Music is shit
Oh God, where do I begin? But I WAS WRONG! Country Music is a crucible of some incredible writing, singing and artistry and it is sadly over-looked and under-appreciated in the UK. As usual, women have been the trail blazers in their genre: Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, kd lang, Patsy Cline, Emmylou Harris, Miranda Lambert, Kacey Musgraves, Lee Ann Womack, Angaleena Presley, Alison Krauss, Gillian Welch, Aimee Mann, Wynonna Judd. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!!!