Years & Years’ Olly Alexander praises the ‘heroes’ of LGBT in ‘fight for equality’

Frontman pens speech celebrating LGBT History Month

Years & Years frontman Olly Alexander has shared a speech he originally penned for The BRITS, championing the history of LGBT rights it has emerged today (26 February).

In the unused speech (the band did not win at this year’s award ceremony) Alexander celebrates LGBT History Month, which has taken place this February.

“Many of us – myself included – we owe a huge amount to the people that have gone before us, we owe many of our freedoms to the people who fought for our rights, who struggled through so much in the ongoing fight for equality,” he says.

“Those people, along with my friends and family in the wider community today, they are my heroes, they inspire me every day, they make me proud to be part of a community that celebrates diversity and fights for equality for all. They make me proud to be gay.” He posted the speech to Instagram, which he’ll be donating to the LGBT awareness charity Stonewall.

Read more: Years & Years frontman criticises government over cuts to NHS mental health services

Alexander’s ‘speech’ follows his recent comments when Years & Years opened up about their experiences with tackling mental health, during a visit to the Raw Material Music centre for youth in Brixton recently.

The London hailing band were visiting the Raw Material Music Centre in Brixton – which has been funded by Sport Relief – a centre that tackles young people’s mental health issues in the Lambeth area in South London.

The band were then asked a series of questions about their own struggles with Mental Health. Mental illness reportedly affects 1 in 5 people.

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Alexander said: “Felt really low as a teenager and hearing music from artists that could express their pain in a way that is beautiful and made me feel better about the way I felt and I think that is something that anyone can relate to” he spoke at the centre, based in Brixton.

“I think the hardest thing can be coming to terms with it yourself and not feeling any shame about it as it is part of who you are and it can be a really positive thing if you use it in the right way”

Read More: Years and Years criticise the government over cuts to NHS mental health services.

Speaking whether the band had ever experienced mental health problems, Emre Turkmen said:

“It is only normal that all of us have experienced it and for sure, I have. I used to travel a lot as a kid and when I first moved to England I felt lonely and my parents were splitting up at the time. I think the most difficult thing about it is that you feel you can’t talk about it and like you are the only one that feels that way but as soon as you talk to your friends and your family you realise that everyone goes through a tough time”.

It’s not the first time the band have approached the issue, with Alexander speaking on the subject in interview with Attitude magazine during December 2015. Having spoken out about his problems, Alexander says his “band’s fans have reacted positively and started sharing their own stories with him.”

“They write me letters a lot of the time and give them to me at shows, or they’ll tweet it at me or write on Instagram,” he said. “So many of them deal with mental issues, mental distress and it’s really so overwhelming… but it’s mostly positive.”

Watch Owen Jones’ full interview with Olly Alexander below.

Electronic-pop outfit Years & Years topped the UK charts with their debut album ‘Communion’ last July.

Years & Years have been nominated in 3 categories at the upcoming BRIT awards, running on February 24 at London’s O2 Arena.

The Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Games are held on 18th-20th March, For more information and to get involved with Sport Relief, head to sportrelief.com.