LGBT History Month Essays: Dan Crossley

To celebrate LGBT History Month, we've asked a group of queer musicians to pen essays and share stories that reflect this years theme: Peace, Activism and Reconciliation.

Growing up I would find myself watching TV and listening to the radio, wondering where exactly I would fit in amongst everyone. I’d think to myself, what if I didn’t want to write a song about a girl? Was I wrong? Should I just go with it? Being young and naive I shook hands with the fact that if I wanted to be a successful ‘pop star’ it was inevitable that I would have to conform.

I’ve always had this burning love for music as it was the only thing that would take me away from the stress of my then home and school life, but for a long time I found myself escaping somewhere I still couldn’t be myself. Although I felt secure and knew that music was always going to be a part of me, it didn’t feel genuine and that was down to me.

The second I vowed that being authentic and having integrity was more important than pleasing people was the second I realised what kind of artist I wanted to be. I wanted to be a spokesperson for the people that really didn’t know which box to tick, or if they had to tick a box at all. I immediately saw my music in a different light, almost as if it was an emotional shoulder to lean on. I really needed that when I was younger and didn’t find it until I discovered such amazing, strong and empowering artists such as George Michael, Elton John and Freddie Mercury.

I feel so lucky to have grown up in an era where we as an LGBTQ+ community have been able to make so much progress. I’ve seen growth in people’s acceptance from being at primary school compared to higher education and looking back I feel blessed to have experienced both times and lived through such a critical movement in our community.

Although people may have told me to shut out who I was in order to define my career first I’ve never wanted to do so. If my music and status could give just one young individual some strength to carry on being their authentic, beautiful self then I am content with my work.

"Call Back" by Dan Crossley

At the moment, we are seeing a surge of immensely talented queer artists breaking through and being accepted, which makes me extremely proud of the community. Being in the industry you know how secretive it can be when it comes to people already in the limelight sometimes being forced whether it’s through money or status to hide who they really are. I feel that music infused reality programs such as Love & HipHop and popular television series such as Empire having Gay and Lesbian story lines has really helped the general public understand the industry is for all. The fact that it’s on our screens and being portrayed in a positive lights shows progress is being made.

Being at peace with myself as an openly gay artist was how I developed my sound. My writing is now simply more personal and honest. I can delve deeper into a song whereas before I would dodge words quicker than a melody would change notes. I think that showed in my artistry and maybe slowed me down a little. Being 23 I needed that time to experience what being a young guy in love was, without hiding it. Now I’m able to write about these experiences more openly so I’m not bitter, just reflective.

I thank the icons mentioned earlier and also the newer artists of today for paving the way for this new wave of now appreciated gay artists. I’m fully aware that we still have work to do, but I as an artist and member of the LGBTQ+ community, am excited to continue moving forward.