Queer pop singer Starley is heading to Mardi Gras for the first time to co-headline the official party. Matthew Wade spoke with her about being in a same-sex relationship, pride, and marriage equality.

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When pop artist Starley entered her first same-sex relationship, it was an adjustment for her religious family.

“I was in a straight relationship for a long time, and I only really came out last year” she says.

“So my family were surprised that I had a girlfriend – it was a big deal for them and hard for me.

“But we’re taking baby steps.

The Australian chanteuse, whose star rose after her 2016 breakout hit Call On Me, has been announced as a co-headlining performer for Mardi Gras’ official party this year.

It will be her first time at the pride festival, an experience she says will be particularly special now that she’s in a queer relationship.

“The support I’ve gotten from my LGBTI fans has been massive, we have a deeper understanding of each other now,” she says.

“Whenever someone tells me they’re going through what I’m going through, and they can relate to me or my music, it makes me feel really good.

“Now that I’m newly in a gay relationship, performing at Mardi Gras will be a pretty big deal.”

Throughout the postal survey process last year, Starley was outspoken in her support for marriage equality, and she says she was elated when it finally passed.

“It made me feel really happy that Australia finally came around,” she says.

“I didn’t agree with the fact that people were able to vote on it but we got it over the line.

“I’m super happy and my partner is as well – she’s from America, and didn’t even realise we didn’t have marriage equality.”

As an impassioned singer unafraid to speak out about the issues personal and important to her, Starley believes it’s important for other artists to use their platforms for change.

“Whoever has a platform should support issues they’re passionate about,” she says.

“Not everyone in the world needs to, but if you feel it in your heart, you should speak out.

“Marriage equality was a big deal for me, because I was in a gay relationship for the first time, and I started to understand what gay people go through every day.

“I’ve always had gay friends but never fully understood what they go through, and I’m now getting to know that world.”

On the night of the Mardi Gras party, Starley says she’s stepped up the stage and what she plans on wearing to make it a memorable event.

She’s also hoping to see her co-headliner and gay icon Cher.

“It’s going to be crazy,” she says.

“I know Aussies know how to party and my fans can expect a bit more of a sexy show – I hope they have an amazing time.

“If you’re in love, make sure you go and celebrate Mardi Gras with your partner and try not get too wasted.”

This year’s Mardi Gras Party will kick off at the Entertainment Quarter at 10pm on Saturday 3 March and run through to 8am on Sunday 4 March. The lockout laws in Sydney will be lifted for the night.

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