Troye Sivan is outspoken. He's frank about his queerness; the visibility that comes with the platform he's made for himself shows younger generations that gay is, indeed, okay. And though his new music video for "Heaven," a track with Betty Who lifted off of his debut album Blue Neighbourhood is visually stunning, it's so much more than that.
"Heaven" itself is about growing up gay, repressing your truth, and ultimately deciding that truth, in the here and now, is more important than missing out on some piece of an afterlife that may or may not exist. In a video blog posted to his YouTube channel, Sivan explains how he, himself, was the hardest person to come out to. "Eventually I got to the point; if there is a heaven that I can’t be myself up there then maybe I don’t want heaven."
Though personal, the message of the song is not lost universally. The struggle for LGBTQIA+ people to overcome denial and shame in order to fully and authentically live their lives is very much a reality today. Suicide is still the second leading cause of death among people between the ages of 10 and 24; LGBTQIA+ youth are four times more likely to commit suicide. According to the American Journal of Public Health, each incident of LGBTQIA+ victimization—whether witnessed firsthand or seen within the media—raises the likelihood of an LGBTQIA+ individual to self-harm by 2.5 percent. Sivan and director Luke Gilford's depictions of LGBTQIA+ love are important because they work to normalize it. Through historic footage of Harvey Milk, AIDS patients, and pride marches, they show that queer people have been around for longer than many of Sivan's fans have, that the struggle for equality is not new and still going despite government actions, like the 2015 SCOTUS ruling that gave same-sex marriages the same rights as heterosexual ones. By being held by and showing affection with another guy, Sivan makes it easier for questioning, out, or closeted gay youth to see themselves in the still widely heteronormative media landscape.
Releasing this video the day before a vehement homophobe becomes America's vice president and a raging misogynist, xenophobe, and other qualifiers becomes president is no mistake, either. "Heaven" is liberation and it could not have come at a better time.