Darren Hayes is an Australian singer, most commonly known for being the frontman for the pop duo Savage Garden. The duo enjoyed moderate success as they hit the top ten with Truly Madly Deeply and To The Moon And Back. Many of their songs are still given a lot of air time today. Sadly, the duo split in 2001 and Darren released several albums, has started his own label, and is looking at a tour in 2023.
As much as things are looking good for Darren, they were not always plain sailing. He has spoken several times in the past about how difficult it was to be himself when his sexuality was constantly being restricted. In an interview with Metro this year, Darren talked about how he was stifled by his label during his time with Savage Garden, and then again when he began his solo career in 2001-2. The label, Sony, apparently policed how he was perceived, trying to tone down the singer’s femininity, such as how he danced and even his facial expressions.
He also goes on to talk about his upbringing, stating that being born in the 70s had an impact on how he viewed his sexuality. ‘I think in the 70s there was a lot of conditioning that went on, whether it be from school teachers or family members. The message that I got very early on was that there was something deeply hidden within me that was repulsive, that was unlovable, and so I learned to shelve that part of me and almost deny it.’ When you consider that Darren was born in 1972, he would have been 16 when Section 28 – a bill that prohibited the promotion of homosexuality by public authorities, such as schools, politicians, police, hospitals, etc – came into effect, he would have felt the deep censure that was aimed at those who were homosexual. The fact that Section 28 didn’t end until 2003 would also have contributed to how Darren’s sexuality was handled in regards to his first two albums which were released under Sony.
It’s no surprise then that Darren repressed his sexuality to the extent that he believed he was heterosexual. He married a woman and tried to live as happily as he could. However, in the background, his sexuality was the subject of several board meetings within his management team. ‘Everyone knew I was gay, but me’,
He also states how damaging the media can be, in that they threatened to ‘out’ him in the 1990s when he was married to his wife. He says the threat of having something he had repressed so deeply thrown into public knowledge was so stressful he ended up with very poor mental health. In fact, he states rather frankly that if the media had succeeded, then he likely would have taken his own life from the stress and upset.
“I don’t regret [publicly coming out] for a second. It wasn’t that I was blacklisted, but it was that I became a ‘niche’ artist purely based on my sexuality. There was a kind of unintentionally patronizing view of me. No longer a sexual object, but more of someone you might take home to Mom […] I was suddenly your gay uncle. That was frustrating. My sexuality was used as a descriptor, and if you think about it, that’s nuts. No one says ‘Openly heterosexual singer Adele.'”
The right to be able to realise your sexuality and inform the people in your life on your own terms is so important and often the media takes it upon itself to remove that right from people, as happened recently to Rebel Wilson regarding her new relationship with a woman. He talks about how lucky he was to have the support of his ex-wife, who was happy to support him on his journey with his sexuality as she knew he was unhappy with how things were. One day, hopefully, everyone will be able to be themselves and have the right to inform people of their own sexuality when the time comes.