It’s hard to imagine Hayley not being a vocal figurehead of lesbian culture. She is “Lesbian Jesus,” after all! The 28-year-old singer rose to icon status with songs and music videos that openly portray lesbian romance, like “Girls Like Girls.” She even singlehandedly re-named 2018 with the viral hashtag #20GAYTEEN.
But it wasn’t initially that easy for Hayley to step into this role, she says. She struggled with the label “lesbian” at first.
“I didn’t want a label at all, but once I released my music, there was this outpour of support for the fact that I did like girls,” Hayley said during a panel at the Billboard and The Hollywood Reporter’s Pride Summit.
“I learned that by embracing my label as a lesbian, I was helping normalize that for so many other people.”
She added that it can be difficult to be an advocate for LGBTQ rights and that she often feels like she needs to be doing more.
“Sometimes you get overwhelmed: I’m not doing enough, I’m not saying enough,” she explained. “I just focus on keeping people alive. If you can inspire hope and give light when people are in that darkness, they will help you make this world a better place.”
After speaking at the event, Hayley appeared on the cover of Billboard‘s Pride issue alongside Adam Lambert, Tegan Quin, Big Freedia and Ilovemakonnen.