Pop superstar Calum Scott doesn’t want to be a flag carrier for the LGBTI community, but he does hope to inspire queer youth. Matthew Wade caught up with him for lunch during his brief trip to Australia.
There was a time when pop star Calum Scott would lay in bed wishing he could take a pill that would make him straight.
As a teenager beginning to discover his same-sex attraction he often felt sick and couldn’t eat properly, the fear of rejection weighing heavily on his mind.
“One day I decided to tell my best friend that I might be gay, and that I wasn’t sure if it was a phase or not” he recalls.
“He had a weird reaction. He walked away and I watched him tell every other guy in our group. After that, they never spoke to me again.
“As soon as I opened up, I’d been abandoned for it.
“I couldn’t sleep properly and it was all because I was scared about what other people thought of me.”
Scott’s star rose dramatically after he performed a cover of Robyn’s Dancing On My Own during an audition on Britain’s Got Talent, which saw him receive his first ever standing ovation.
Growing up, both he and his younger sister were passionate about music, inspired by the Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, and Michael Jackson tracks their mother played while driving them around town.
He says that despite his whirlwind success, for a long time he didn’t realise he could sing.
“I sang in the shower like most people, but never thought anything more about it,” he says.
“I was a bit naive, I thought everybody sounded the way I did.
“It was my sister that really inspired me and pushed me to audition for the show – I was nervous as hell but even then, I didn’t think it would go the way it did.”
After his Robyn cover became the best selling song of that summer in the UK, Scott began working on his debut album Only Human, which has just been released.
He hopes that the music – at least half of which was directly inspired by his experiences as a gay man – will help to inspire young LGBTI people who are going through what he did as a teenager.
“We’ve got a long way to go, and I want to make sure young kids don’t grow up with that fear,” he says.
“The opening lyric of If Our Love Is Wrong is ‘I don’t know how I should say it – in my mind, it’s every word they don’t want to hear’, and it’s basically me saying if same-sex love is wrong, I don’t want to be right.
“I’m so fucking glad that music came into my life and changed everything for me, and I hope the album can help to represent what it means to be gay, which is human.”
Despite being a high-profile gay musician like his contemporaries Sam Smith and Troye Sivan, Scott says he wouldn’t necessarily call himself a flag carrier for the LGBTI community.
However, having come into the industry as an openly gay man, the platform was always an inevitability.
He does hope to finally be that guy that he never had growing up, someone that younger LGBTI people can look up to as a role model.
“It can feel very lonely being gay, and some of us aren’t lucky enough to have someone to relate to,” he says.
“But the LGBTI community is growing and it’s not going anywhere. Same-sex attraction and gender identity are natural and no-one should live in fear, especially when it’s something that cannot be helped.
“If people are feeling isolated or confused, don’t torture yourself like I did.”
Scott recently received a message from a gay fan in Germany who was nervous about coming out to his parents.
“Every person is different, some people might be weird about it or shocked, and it could be because they didn’t see it coming,” he says.
“But people should love you no matter what.”
When it comes to issues currently facing the LGBTI community, he highlights Australia’s recent marriage equality debate as a violation of human rights.
He believes gay people being granted the right to marry should never have been a question put forward to the public.
“Seeing Australia asking people if gay marriage should be allowed was so offensive to me,” he says.
“I can understand that the government was trying to tackle a sensitive issue, but it seemed so barbaric.
“Since gaining that instant global spotlight after Britain’s Got Talent, I’ve never felt stronger about LGBTI rights or the gay community.”