Music

K.D. Lang: 'Coming out was a tough journey, but it was definitely worth it'

The Grammy winner told the Big Issue she wishes she had been more grateful as a young successful musician

Canadian singer-songwriter k.d. lang revealed her journey to coming out to her mother and then publicly in this week’s Big Issue.

“I came out to my mum when I was 17,” she said, speaking to the Big Issue in a Letter To My Younger Self. “My high-school sweetheart had left me for somebody and I was really upset. My mum asked what was wrong and I said, ‘You wouldn’t understand’ and she said, ‘Try me.’ So I came out to her.

“It was hard. My mum was a Christian and this was early, this was 1977 or 1978. So that was a pretty big deal in a small town then and my mum struggled with it for a couple of years. Because more than anything I think parents want you to have a safe, happy life.

“When I came out publicly it was a bit of a setback but it was also a solidification of how important it was. It was a tough journey but it was definitely, definitely worth it.”

The pop and country superstar said she thought she was prepared for fame, but now she sees how much of it all was all a front.

“I had a type of cockiness that was common in the Eighties, it was in style. I adopted it fairly easily,” the 57-year-old explained.

“When I see my 30-year-old self now I see it, overly cocky. It’s kind of tongue-in-cheek but it’s also kind of real and it makes me cringe a bit.

“It takes a kind of unfettered confidence and dare to participate in the music business. It’s so all-encompassing and demanding, I had to go to the highest level of ego just to maintain it. If I could give any advice to the younger me it would be to be more humble and grateful.”

But, she said, she is impressed by how unfazed she was by most parts of success. “It’s really funny – when I was younger I had all the confidence in the world.

“Being at the Grammys for example. Or being in a room with Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell. Or playing a huge opera house in Singapore.

“And now that I’ve slowed down and returned to Canada, I look back and shake my head and go, my God! How did I even do that? It just seems so big and took so much energy. It seems just implausible now. But I had no problem with it at the time.”

Read the full interview in this week’s Big Issue.

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