A desirable discovery by accident. That’s what this blog post is about. It’s also a little bit about the miracle of fandom, and how these days, you can ‘meet’ someone halfway around the world through a shared interest and discover a soul sister. When you’re a fan of someone or something, you search out little tidbits about your friendly obsession and you share them with like-minded friends. Funny pictures from tumblr, a great video on YouTube. You tweet each other the latest updates, and you follow your favorite celebrities on their social media sites. Sometimes you create sites to share your fannish glee, and your circle of friends grows.
Quite often, a friend’s fannish obsession becomes my own. I see their tweets, Facebook links, and Live Journal updates, and I find myself checking out the artist, or television show, or movie they are so excited about. There are times when I don’t feel the same level of excitement, but often I am introduced to artists and authors I’d never heard of before—and then I too am seeking out videos, buying CDs, hoping to get into a concert, or waiting impatiently for the next book release.
During a recent interview, I was asked who was my ‘favorite gay celebrity’. This was my answer: “You know, I had to think about this question because it is a little like asking who is my favorite blonde celebrity. Scarlett Johansson! No wait; she’s a redhead now. Does that count? I don’t usually track sexual identity preference when it comes to enjoying someone’s work or admiring what they do. I live in this fantasy world where one day we don’t attach labels to things. Where we don’t say ‘black President’, ‘female CEO’, ‘gay entertainer’, or ‘lesbian tennis player’. It seems to me that every time we make the distinction, it just shows how far we still have to go.
That having been said, a dear friend recently introduced me to the music of Darren Hayes. I’m going to admit right here, I’ve been living in a cave with regards to music since the 9/11 attack. I know, weird side effect, huh? At the time, however, once the initial shock had worn off, I found the commentary most commercial radio nearly intolerable. I stopped listening to the radio altogether and hibernated in my own little world listening to the music I grew up with, until my friend began introducing me to wonderful artists and new music by creating masterful playlists for some of my stories. I crept out from under my rock to listen, and enjoyed what I heard.
So yeah, didn’t know Darren Hayes used to be with Savage Garden. Had only vague sense of recognition on hearing the name of that band. What I know now is that Hayes is smart, funny, sweet, a little self-deprecating, and he did a kick-ass cover of Madonna’s Like a Prayer on a UK radio show recently. He makes charming videos and his voice is stunning. And he is a genuinely nice person, based on the interactions I’ve seen since I’ve begun following him on Twitter. Oh, yeah, and he’s gay.”
Let me take this opportunity to back this up with some proof. One of the first introductions I had to Darren Hayes was through this video.
My friend had posted the link on her journal, and I teared up at the big reveal of his mother’s sacrifice and Christmas surprise. I didn’t really make the connection though, you know? It was a touchingly powerful video but I didn’t go, oh, wow, that’s Darren Hayes, the musician. Hayes was an artist she’d mentioned sometimes, but I just didn’t link the two. To me, this was the story of someone’s Star Wars Christmas, and how his mother made all his dreams come true.
Then she posted this link on her journal. What an utterly fabulous video. And let me tell you, by the time the lyrics began to play, I was in tears, the happy kind of tears that come when you are so overwhelmed by the possibility of such a love, and you know that you have that in your life and that makes you one helluva lucky person. Do you know I watched it several times before I realized the guy doing the hugging was actually Hayes himself? I was so blown away by the video that I didn’t even notice at first. If you take into consideration that I come from a family of non-huggers, and only recently learned the power and healing of a good hug, my reaction makes sense. Just so you get a sense of what my family is like, once, when saying goodbye to my brother when we hadn’t met for many years, a friend present at the time commented, “Wow, that was just like watching two Vulcans hug.”
More recently, my internet friend played Taken By the Sea for me. She wanted me to see how it was perfect for the characters in the story I was writing, and I fell in love with Hayes as an artist in that moment. Before I knew it, I was following him on Twitter, and watching his YouTube videos, and buying his latest CD. Moreover, his interactions with his fans and his interviews have just solidified my general appreciation of him as a person, as well as musician. I put together the previous links and realized that the little boy who loved Star Wars, the man who collected hugs, the Big Name Celebrity who lent his voice to the It Gets Better Project, and the artist who utterly slayed me with his rendition of Like a Prayer were one and the same. That was a little bit staggering when I finally made all the connections. Okay, so maybe I’m a bit slow on the uptake, but still.
When you like a celebrity, you naturally want to learn more about them. Everything I read just reinforced my sense that this is a really decent human being, as well as a talented artist with a voice that for some reason routinely reduces me to tears. But in a good way! That cover he did of Madonna’s Like A Prayer on the UK radio interview? He took a rocking song and made it his own—the song itself was like a prayer of love offered up by his voice. My words here are inadequate to describe it. You must listen for yourself.
I think there’s more to it than just an infatuation with someone’s incredible talent. There’s a sense of recognition, too. Not in the specifics, mind you. In many ways, though, I spent most of my adult life denying who I was and what I was supposed to be doing. I wasn’t just not good enough, pretty enough, or smart enough to be part of the cool crowd –I didn’t matter. I had so many people telling me I was without talent or worth that I began to believe it myself. I made decisions based on those beliefs.
I understand what it is like to not fit in and to practice self-loathing with such dedication I raised it to an art form. And while I’ve made huge changes in my life these past few years, I recognize too, that it is an ongoing process to remake yourself, to discover who you are and what you want out of life—and be willing to fight for it too.
I hear this in Hayes’ music. It speaks to me on an emotional level (which is probably why it makes me cry so often!) It reminds me what it’s like to be alive, to live and to love—and why all these things are so bloody important.
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