When Darren Hayes stepped onto the stage to sing at last year’s Mardi Gras, many saw it as a bold turning point in his career.
Appearing in a glittering T-shirt and accompanied by shirtless male dancers as he performed his hits Insatiable and Pop!ular, it was Hayes’s third appearance at a major gay event within a year, after playing at Manchester Gay Pride and London’s Heaven nightclub.
Having dodged rumours about his sexuality for years, particularly in the wake of his 1999 divorce from his wife Colby Taylor, it seemed with the trifecta of gay appearances that Hayes was at last making a personal statement about his life.
But since then, Hayes has continued to remain coy on the topic. In numerous international publications, Hayes has been asked point-blank if he is gay, and always dodged the issue.
On the eve of his upcoming show A Big Night In With Darren Hayes on Tuesday 4 July at the Sydney Opera House, the singer of such hits as Truly Madly Deeply and Affirmation took time to speak with Sydney Star Observer.
When asked whether or not he was gay, on this occasion, the 34-year-old singer chose a different tack.
No one has ever asked me -“ never, he responded sincerely. Seriously, no one has ever asked me that question in my whole career.
I obviously choose not to answer that question. I never have. In 10 years of making music, no one has ever asked me that question, but I totally respect you asking me it.
A quick search reveals, however, that we’re not the first media organisation to ask him about his sexuality. It’s possible the Star is the first to say the g word, but he’s definitely been asked about his private life on many occasions.
And in keeping with his previous responses to the query, Hayes avoids giving a straight answer.
I find it so funny that we live in a society where you have to be something or another, he says.
I have never been easy to categorise is the honest truth. That is why I don’t get into it. Maybe I exist on a different level.
And what level would that be?
There is no judgment or categorising, he says.
The one thing I find limiting in the discussion about sexuality is that instantly for a performer it puts you into a sub category and I don’t want to be at all.
I have no problems at all with anyone thinking whatever they are thinking of me. I certainly don’t have any illusion that people think I have ever tried to hide anything about myself, because I don’t.
Then suddenly, the well-prepared answers finally give way to something with a little more substance.
I can tell you I would not even have known the answer to that question 10 years ago. Do I know the answer to that question? Of course, he says.
But do I want that to inform every single thing I do? No.
When was the last time you saw me on the red carpet with a fake girlfriend? Some people do that, and I have always chosen to take a higher road than that as I want to be an artist and an expressive person.
There are so many levels of coming out, and where and how and who you chose to reveal all that kind of information to, I think, is such a personal thing. These days, when we think we know absolutely everything about every celebrity, there is stuff I don’t want to know.
In the five years since Hayes left Savage Garden, he has toured the world as a solo artist and says the experience has given him the confidence to be more willing than ever to take risks.
A Big Night In With Darren Hayes, which will continue to Asia after the Opera House performance, presents his biggest hits and musical highlights from the past decade. He claims this show makes a statement about where his career is now.
I have never behaved like this on stage before and I am not really concerned if I don’t seem that cool, he says.
This is who I am today and this is who I am after 10 years of a music career. This is me much more comfortable on stage and in my own skin, and really grateful for people remembering me.
While Hayes’s glittering Mardi Gras outfit does not score a repeat performance in this show, he says his new costumes have enough sparkles on them to create an all-new impression.
I have never been afraid to be flamboyant and quite camp, he says.
All I can say is there is a woman who in London who has been sticking hundreds and hundreds of glittering things onto my encore outfit. Wear your sunglasses!
A Big Night In With Darren Hayes plays at the Sydney Opera House on Tuesday 4 July. Bookings on 9250 7777.