The more the world shifts, the more the LGBTQ community get sick of asking for representation. Balancing that tricky line between dismissing the need to be treated differently and then desperately wanting true and honest queer stories; our entire journey is just one big, slow tiptoe. Grateful to at least be on the plank, but it would be nice to have a little bit more room to walk comfortably. And so, it’s these honest queer stories that we grab onto so tightly. The ones that pop up occasionally in films such as Call Me By Your Name and Love, Simon; and, if we’re really lucky, in our favourite pop songs. They support us, enabling us to keep our balance as we continue to walk and stay focused. They’re our stories, our truths, our emotions. But they only pop up so often, so we need to grasp them while we can.
Two years on from its release, Troye Sivan’s sophomore album Bloom still remains to be one of our greatest stories. Relishing in queer glory, Sivan honestly depicts his romances and navigates through them all as a young, gay man. And they’re happy. For too long, we’ve seen our stories twisted into arcs of struggle. From unrequited love to downright forbidden, our romances often don’t finish with a happy ending. Our movies are heartbreaking, our songs are nostalgic or overly sexualised. There are rarely just happy moments of queer puppy love. But on Bloom, Sivan doesn’t shy away from the positivity of it all. He’s out and he’s proud, and he wants all of his Gen Z LGBTQ fans to know they can be themselves and still find head-spinning, dreamy, unconditional devotion.
Right from the beginning, Bloom is representative of its modern audience. The euphoric opener ‘Seventeen’ details Sivan’s first sexual experience with an older man from hook-up app Grindr. It’s a shift from the usual predatory narrative we get, instead showing us the victim’s point of view and how innocently they believe it all to be true. It’s Sivan kickstarting the show in the most honest way possible, opening up about his own experience discovering his sexuality and identity; and it’s sure to have resonated with a lot of queer kids. And as our digital generation only grows, this track is still as relevant now as it was then.
From there, we’re into the ecstatic ‘80s pop hit ‘My My My!’, a fizzing detail of the first electrifying stages of a relationship. And that theme pops up a lot. On dancefloor sweeper ‘Lucky Strike’, Sivan lusts over his new boyfriend and on the dreamy ‘Animal’, he pens “an ode to the boy he loves.” And it’s in these songs that the ‘80s dance pop beats really make sense. We feel energised, capable of anything, and purely euphoric; just like the first stages of love. Not only can we dance, but we can resonate with the lyrics and feel as though the tracks were made for us only.
Arguably, the album’s best moments come at ‘Bloom’ and ‘The Good Side.’ The first being an undeniably catchy tune about losing one’s virginity and the latter being a mature, slow ballad that sees Sivan admit he got the best part out of a breakup. Wedged in between the rest of the tracks, both show the juxtaposing sides of romance. From the lustful beginnings to the heartbreaking goodbyes. And, surprisingly, it’s all pretty similar to the heteronormative relationships we’ve been surrounded with forever. Who would’ve thought? In all its innuendo-pomp, the core of ‘Bloom’ is simply just the beauty of gay intimacy. And just like its hetero counterpart, the idea is just as special and sacred.
There are times on Bloom where Sivan gets a little doubtful, just like one naturally does in a relationship. He gets pretty upset about sending his boyfriend a postcard in Japan, only to have the boyfriend not read it on ‘Postcard.’ And on the vulnerable ‘Plum’, he’s realising that all good things must eventually come to an end. “Even the sweetest plum has only got so long” he repeats in the chorus, a line that seems like it was pulled right from the script of Call Me By Your Name. It’s all Sivan’s inner turmoil, and the thoughts are so natural and normal that anyone outside of the LGTBQ community could listen and relate. Because that’s the thing, both ends of the spectrum aren’t so different. We all navigate the same types of love at the end of it all, and we all deserve to find happiness within them.
This isn’t Troye Sivan’s first queer positive project, and it certainly isn’t his last. A trailblazing pop star who earned his LGBTQ audience from coming out to them all via YouTube back in 2013, he just gets it. Never once does he try and preach himself as some kind of inspiration, he simply just lives. And it’s through his effortless way of living that queer kids all over the world can live too. Bloom is still a masterpiece. Not only for its delectable synth-pop, but for its ability to relate to an entire minority by making them feel like the majority. It’s the album that we’ll never forget, the one we’ll hold onto forever and remember as being the one that helped us grow up. It’s lifesaving, it’s a safety net for coming out. And it’s ours.