Watch: Out Rocker Darren Hayes Opens Up about the Torment of the Closet

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Sunday July 17, 2022
Originally published on July 5, 2022

A still from Darren Hayes' "Let's Try Being in Love."
A still from Darren Hayes' "Let's Try Being in Love."  (Source:Screenshot/Darren Hayes/YouTube)

Savage Garden's out singer-songwriter Darren Hayes has opened up about the torments of the closet and the life-saving power of his career in music, People Magazine reported.

Hayes recently contributed an essay to Huffpost in which he detailed the anguish he endured as a gay youth in an abusive home situation.

"The '80s were a horrible time to be a queer kid," Hayes recalled in the essay of his upbringing in Brisbane, Australia. "We were inundated with warnings about a so-called 'gay plague,' and popular culture was littered with negative stereotypes of what a gay person was."

Hayes detailed how, not unlike other LGBTQ+ kids of his generation, "I was called 'gay' before I knew what the word meant," with his own father among the bullies who hurled the slur at him.

Lacking a role model, it wasn't until Hayes was 13 that he had a sudden epiphany while attending a Michael Jackson concert.

"It was 1987, and by sheer luck, I ended up near the front row where I found myself gazing into the eyes of the perfectly androgynous pop star onstage and seeing someone who, for the first time, looked how I felt," Hayes recounted.

"Even though I was mocked for screaming his name — even kicked and called gay slurs during the concert — it was in that exact moment in time that I decided the way out of my own personal hell was to become a star, too."

It was an escape plan that Hayes managed to execute, but inside he was far from whole.

"By the time Savage Garden was a household name, I had married my college sweetheart and essentially tried to pretend my attraction to men was just another secret," he writes in the essay. "I believed that since I'd never acted upon it, this part of me was something I would never have to deal with."

"But my true nature had other plans," Hayes added, before describing the depression he endured as he clung to the closet.

Complicating matters, his career suffered from the deep-seated homophobia of the music industry. As Hayes shared earlier this year in an interview with a British publication, his record label dropped its support of his first solo album, "Spin," because they thought he looked too gay in the video accompanying the album's lead single, "Insatiable."

"Spin" wasn't even given a chance in the U.S. Despite being shelved in America, though, the album commanded sales of two million, thanks to its UK release, where the album shot to #2 on the charts.

Now out, proud, and married, Hayes draws on the pain he has endured — but also the triumph of authenticity — for his music. "I would say my new album honestly saved my life," Hayes told People Mag. "I was in a dark place, emotionally, not understanding that just like my sexuality, my creative outlet is a huge part of the person I am and by denying that, I was denying an essential part of me."

Hayes has released three new singles this year, the first of which is "Let's Try Being in Love" — a "queer anthem," Hayes says, the video for which unapologetically depicts a gay romance.

The song premiered last January, and was followed by the March 10 release of "Do You Remember?" which is also the title of Hayes' upcoming tour, scheduled for early next year.

"I realized that I had never truly been myself at the height of my fame and commercial success," Hayes told People about his comeback. "It would have been a huge regret of mine to have retired from the public eye without having come back to the world as my true authentic self."

Watch the video for Hayes' latest single, "Poison Blood," which talks about his struggles with depression, below.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.