‘He looks gay’: Darren Hayes recalls record label’s homophobia


darren hayes publicity photo tour mardi gras
Image: James Reese/Supplied

Former Savage Garden frontman Darren Hayes says he’s still scarred by shocking homophobia he experienced from his American record company.

Savage Garden broke up in 2001. Hayes recalled the following year, his US label dropped all support for his debut solo album Spin at a crucial point in his career.

The album was released in 2002, and Hayes told the Herald Sun the criticism “came from the top” after American bosses saw the video for the album’s first single, Insatiable.

“It came from the top in New York,” he said.

“The message was, ‘He looks gay when he moves, so we have to reshoot that video, and don’t let him dance. We don’t know what to do with this.’

“It was heartbreaking.

“I was sent off to the UK, where the album was huge, and that gave me a career in Europe.

“But my career in Australia was effectively stopped, too.”

Hayes said to this day he still has “bittersweet memories” of the 2002 album because of “that kind of homophobia of the music industry back in the early 2000s.”

Darren Hayes back home for Mardi Gras Parade

Darren Hayes is performing on Saturday night at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade. It’s his first Australian live performance since 2011.

He arrived back in Australia last week, after releasing his first new track in 10 years, Let’s Try Being In Love in January.

Recently, he’s reflected on his career, including how at the height of his fame he was “deeply sad.”

“I’ve been married to Richard for almost 17 years. I’m in this really comfortable place in my life,” Hayes said at the time.

“But at the same time at mid-life, I’m grieving the fact I never got to celebrate who I really was at the period of my life where I was most famous.”

Hayes said now, someone like Lil Nas X can “push forward his true self, full of pride and self-love”.

“I was realising with great sadness that I didn’t get that experience,” he said.

2023 national tour planned for 2023

Early next year, Hayes will embark on his Do You Remember? national tour to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Savage Garden’s debut album and his solo career.

The tour will begin in Perth on January 31, 2023, before Melbourne, Sydney, Newcastle, Brisbane, and the Gold Coast.

He said he was “beyond excited” for the concerts “after almost a decade out of the spotlight and all this time in lockdown.”

“You never know how much you love something until it’s taken away from you,” Hayes said.

“I found myself really missing the electric feeling that only a live audience can bring.

“To sing these songs again after all we’ve been through is going to feel like a family reunion.”

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