The People Versus’ lead singer writes about holding space for people to let their words out
BY ALICE EDWARDS, IMAGE BY HELEN MESSENGER
When we play this tune live, I first invite those in the audience that are out to cheer, and then I
invite the whole audience to cheer, so anyone who hasn’t come out can cheer too. The first few
times I did it, it felt cheesy, and I was worried it came off wrong.
But everybody here has more heartbreak than you know.
After one show we played this year, someone came up to me and said “Thank you.” They were
with their guardian for that show, and they couldn’t come out safely to them. “That gave me the
chance to cheer for me, I don’t get to do that.” I don’t remember how I replied, in the haze of post gig
endorphins and the knowledge that their guardian was fast approaching to join the
conversation, but that interaction has stuck with me, vividly, every time we play that song.
A hurricane of thought, and it’s all very loud.
My decision to come out as asexual and then later, agender, to my family was a slow burn. I was
essentially coming out as I realised it in real-time. I didn’t say the word asexual in reference to
myself in front of them for maybe a year after learning about the term, but what mattered is they
knew me and loved me still.
A multitude of things unsaid and never any peace.
But with one friend, they knew they were queer, they didn’t feel their parents would accept them.
And with another, they struggled to tell their parents about their mental health, trying antidepressants
and therapy. Obviously, it was their conversation to have, or not have, and since they
knew that my family would be their family if ever needed, all I could do was listen, to let them know
they were supported. “A problem shared is a problem halved.” A sticky little phrase that seems too
brief for the burden of feeling it can apply to.
It don’t have to be here, baby, let the words out.
The lyrics came almost immediately after a day of phone calls with them, and I was thinking, they’ve
already come so far, every step is an achievement, this is such a stressful thing, I’m just glad they
can talk about it. Survival is an achievement for some, they’ve worked so hard. I’m so proud of
them. What else can I do? I’m watching people I love struggle. But I’ll be with them.
I see the waves you made just to be here now.
The song was a pure expression of that messy lump of FEELING. So much love, powerlessness
and hope. And when we play it live I want people to hear that in it, that every step on the journey is a
fine place to be until you’re ready for the next one, that I see how hard you’re working, that you are
loved, that we are there for you, we will cheer for you, you get to cheer for you.
When we thought about what we wanted to do to release Lonely Teen, we saw that we had listeners from all over; not everyone would be able to join us at a gig and feel included. We wanted to build something that could give them that catharsis and a bit of that community wherever they were. So they can “Let The Words Out” too.
So we built exactly that at LetTheWordsOut.com – it keeps you safe in anonymity, like a cheer in a loving audience – but also lets you see how many others are cheering for the same.
You can visit LetTheWordsout.com
DIVA magazine celebrates 28 years in print in 2022. If you like what we do, then get behind
LGBTQIA media and keep us going for another generation. Your support is invaluable.