Troye Story: Pop singer Troye Sivan's gay context examined

  • by Jim Gladstone
  • Wednesday October 24, 2018
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I'll be in the audience next Thursday night when openly gay pop star Troye Sivan plays the Masonic.

While I'm watching the South African-born, Aussie-bred 23-year-old doing his trademark slink-strut dance moves and singing his anal sex anthem, "Bloom," I suspect that some of his millennial and post-millennial fans will be casting their own suspicious sidelong glances at me.

"What is this balding guy our fathers' age doing here," they may ask each other. "Is he some kind of perv?"

Not any more.

But my thoughts were certainly perverted when I was the age of Sivan's core fan base. They were twisted away from their natural state by parents, teachers, and all of school-kid culture, which led me to be ashamed of my interest in pretty boy pop stars.

I was ashamed over —to name a few— Leif Garrett, Christopher Atkins, Robi Rosa, New Kid Jonathan Knight (dated Tiffany; came out in 2011), and the Polynesian-American Wolfgramm brothers who sang and danced in the Jets. If you'd asked me then, I'd have told you that I hated them (while silently feeling similarly about myself).

When I was 16, my friends and I tormented a kid named Carl because he had a photo of Glenn Scarpelli taped inside his locker door. We tore the image down.

Scarpelli —now semi-retired in Sedona, Arizona— played cutie Alex Harris on "One Day At A Time," an LGBT-free sit-com that Troye Sivan's contemporaries likely know only through its recent Netflix reboot —which features both a teenage lesbian and nonbinary character in its regular cast.

Like Sivan, who started out as a non-singing YouTube personality, Scarpelli (a Tiger Beat staple) parlayed his video fame into pop music. His big single was "Get A Love On." ( ).

As it turns out, Scarpelli (like Carl, like me) was gay. He quit the entertainment world in the mid-80s: "When I turned 18," he said to me in an interview a few years ago, "I left the business. I wanted to come out of the closet and I didn't believe I could do both."

I'll be at the Troye Sivan concert to revel in the fact that society's prevailing attitudes, and my own responses to them, are far less perverted than they were in my teens and twenties.

I'll be there to celebrate the fact that gay performers can be successful without hiding.

I'll be there to gratefully acknowledge how easily today's queer kids can reach out online to sharing their crushes on cute celebrities and their support for each other.

I'll be there to help exorcise the worst sort of nostalgia. And let my younger self celebrate that it got better, in a big way.

Troye Sivan performs Thurs. Nov. 1 and Fri. Nov. 2., 7:30 p.m. at The Masonic
1111 California St. Tickets from $46.