**the use of he/him pronouns in reference to Harry is consistent with references made by himself, his family, and his representation**
I watched Donnie Galarza, President of ANTIBOY Records, refer back to his notes. His ‘90’s boy-band haircut and crooked smile seemed familiar, almost like maybe I’d seen him somewhere before. But I just as likely hadn’t. He just had the familiarity of community, the inherent closeness of being, in certain ways, cut from the same cloth.
Donnie and the ANTIBOY Records team had just released posthumously the music of Harry Hains, aka ANTIBOY. Harry died of an overdose last year, in the midst of finalizing the album, ‘A Glitch in Paradise’– a queer anthology of sorts. I had asked Donnie about their hope for impact in releasing ANTIBOY’s work posthumously. Releasing work of a deceased artist often paints those releasing it in a certain way—mainly as greedy. Inherent is the notion that the only true value an artist holds is how much money they can make, even from the grave.
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But that’s not the situation here, and I can tell right away. Donnie’s careful with his words, and not because he wants to trick me or convince me of something, but because there’s an innate need to honor Harry properly. More than that, there’s a desire to further his vision, which was aimed at creating a world without boundaries, labels, and boxes.
“Harry’s message was bigger than him, and we had to release his music because that’s what he would’ve wanted,” Donnie says , matter-of-factly. “My hope is that his music and his story will make an impact on the LGBTQ+ community and will be a tool of light for those who feel alone, unaccepted, worthless, and alienated from the world.”
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Harry was a natural-born star. While primarily known for his roles in American Horror Story and The OA, it seemed that Hains’ talents weren’t singular. The child of actress Jane Badler, Hains’ talents, dreams, and visions were always nurtured. But Donnie, Harry’s close friend from the during Harry’s modeling days, called Hains “a true visionary.” It only made sense that ANTIBOY would be such a striking, emblematic figure, a character that, not entirely separate from Hains, represented a being who lived in a world that nullified intolerance, discrimination, and labels. ANTIBOY was, and remains, a vision of a utopia existence, one that Harry wanted to create through music and other future projects.
Harry had begun working on “A Glitch in Paradise,” which was to be his first album, just months before he died. In December 2020, ANTIBOY Records released the album, which included the single, “Dream,” along with its corresponding music video, starring supermodel, Andreja Pejić. The vocals and visions are Harry’s , but this particular video was brought to life by Donnie and the rest of the creatives on the team. The music video, directed by Charlie Chops (who has worked with Grimes and Lil Nas X) is a cinematic masterpiece, bridging reality and virtual reality via animation and graphics from Sam Hains, the late artist’s brother. Beyond the visual effects, the video is a gender and body-bending, futuristic, boundary and label-less craving. The choreography, done by Kim Petras’ Movement Director, Ryan Walker Page, is a mesmerizing expression, one where each body nearly appears to be acting on its own, with an unadulterated desire to break out of its own confines. The video is a look into the future that Harry wanted to build, a world that Harry didn’t just want to create, but to embody.
“Harry didn’t believe in labels,” Donnie told me. “In fact, he didn’t understand them. So I can’t tell you his pronouns. It’s not a conversation that ever made sense to him. Harry believed in a world where social constructs didn’t exist and, therefore, could no longer divide us.”
It seems that ANTIBOY was less of a persona separate from Harry and more of an extension of his true self. Harry had dreams of a fashion label, an LGBTQ+ membership club, scripts, and more music. But Harry’s dreams were beyond what could be classified as “things.” He envisioned a changed world.
“A little before he died he said to me, ‘Donnie, the future is fluid.’ He knew something was coming. A revolution.”
It’s undeniable that the entertainment industry is taking a dramatic shift in their representation. Shows like American Horror Story — in which Harry played a victim of Jeffrey Dahmer in Season 5, ‘Hotel’– Hollywood, The Haunting of Bly Manor, and the like, are increasing their queer storylines as well as their cast-lists. But it often seems to fall short, or leave a bad taste in our mouths. As though Hollywood is rainbow-washing our Netflix queue because it’s “just so in right now.”
But creators like ANTIBOY exist, folks who are harnessing their voices and yearn for equal existence. The industry is aware of the talent, the uniqueness, the downright stardom. Yet it begs the question: does industry influence acceptance, or does acceptance influence industry? I think Harry would have argued that influence and acceptance within the industry are engaging in a feedback loop. Undeniably, he wanted acceptance for his community and created art as a result of it, but his main goal wasn’t the acceptance. Rather, Hains yearned for a dismantling of a world that required it. Harry envisioned a world where “Dream” was more than a music video, but an unapologetic existence. He wanted to help foster a world where you didn’t even feel the need to celebrate that lipstick was worn on certain faces, or that heels were on certain feet. Instead, you’d breathe a sort of sigh that said, “Of course,” unquestioning, expecting what we now find unexpected. He wanted the queer world to be so deeply threaded into the rest of the world that the use of “queer” wasn’t necessary. Harry wanted artists to simply be artists, beings separate from their labels.
That’s why Harry’s work is so bittersweet. It’s hard to know precisely what Harry would have instilled in this world if he was still here. But his team, comprised of his family and closest friends, is truly bringing his vision to fruition. It shows true community, belief in others and, appropriately, the dream —where we are uplifted and not questioned; where we simply are and celebrated for being so.
It is often that “the greats” are also the most tortured. Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain released music posthumously, and remain music icons, though they, too, were lost at 27. Briefly, you wonder if their music is considered so prolific because of the romanticization of untimely death, especially surrounding the 27 Club. But deeper in your heart, you are aware of their sheer talent and genius, factors that don’t tend to shy from pain and torment.
Hains, too, would have likely experienced that torment. He suffered from a rare sleep condition that prevented him from sleeping for longer than an hour or two at a time. His mind oscillated between reality and whatever exists in the mind beyond it. It’s possible that ANTIBOY was born in the bridge between these two places: reality and beyond. It’s also possible that Harry’s true spark of genius was also ultimately his demise.
“[Harry] was brave and feared nothing, a gift and a curse,” Donnie says.
We have yet to know Harry/ANTIBOY’s true scope of impact, but we can be certain that when the queer community rallies behind anything, it is destined for stardom. Harry made music so that his community could be celebrated, recognized, and loved. In that, he hoped for a dismantling of labels and a celebration of humankind. “The music of ANTIBOY represents this world that he believed in, where everyone could be free to be who they were without judgement,” Donnie said. It’s an idea worth celebrating and sharing.