Scissor Sisters frontman Jake Shears has found a successful career as an out musician — his band achieved a cult fanbase within the LGBTQ community, and Shears himself has been working on his debut solo album, along with his headline-making stint as Charlie Price in the Broadway musical Kinky Boots earlier this year.
On Sunday, Shears sat down for an interview with the U.K.’s Channel 4 News to discuss his experience as a gay man living in America. Shears opened up about his coming out experience in Mesa, Arizona, which he said came with violent harassment. “I came out when I was 15 at school, and I realized I had put myself into a precarious situation,” he said. “It was a very hostile environment for me and a lot kids had it in for me. It was a scary situation. I was very impatient. I wanted to grow up now.”
But the singer was quick to say that it’s important for queer youth to understand that coming out should come if and when someone is safe. “A lot times, I’ll get DMs from kids who want help,” he said. “And tentimes, I tell them that I think they should wait a couple years until they’re in a safer spot.”
Shears also talked about the evolution queer culture and society, saying that while the progress we’ve seen is groundbreaking in a good way, he wants to make sure that we’re also staying focused on what’s important. “It’s important that as society becomes more inclusive, we’re allowed to marry each other, that we keep our queer values,” he said.
Part that evolution was the election Donald Trump, which Shears said was scary for him. But the most important thing, he added, is to keep talking. “I think it’s very important to keep a dialogue, face to face, as much as possible. I think as people, we’re isolating ourselves. We’re talking to each other through our phones, arguing… those divisions freak me out.”
He added that he has hope for the future, and wants his music to provide something for everyone. “I do think it’s possible to change people’s minds — it’s one my goals with my music,” he said. “I hope that I do make music that can speak to anyone. I don’t just want to play for a queer crowd.”
Watch Shears’ full interview with Channel 4 below: