Singaporean pop star Wils has made history in 2019 by being the first openly gay male Chinese singer. It’s a feat that he doesn’t take lightly but at the same time doesn’t want to be the only thing he’s known for.
Wils, formerly known as Willie Tay, was a rising star in the Singaporean music scene over the past two years. Then he decided to tell his loved ones and record label about his sexuality. Things crumbled when his label decided to drop him.
Things for Wils appear to be back on the upswing after being dealt such a massive blow. He released a single and video for “Open Up Babe” on April 23. The footage finds him dancing around a set of cliffs in Los Angeles with his lover. The song, on the other hand, is about being honest with yourself.
Wils sat down with me to discuss his coming out, who has supported him throughout his journey, his stellar new song, and what’s next for him now that he has nothing left to hide. Check it out.
How does it feel to be the first openly gay male Chinese singer?
I’m no hero nor do i wanna wear a cape for that. I’m just grateful for the gay community for accepting me and loving me since day one. I wouldn’t have had the courage to come out if it wasn’t for you guys.
There are so many talented people in Asia who create insane art. But the stigma about being gay that has been ingrained in Asian children has forced many in Asia to live their lives in the closet. And it’s time we change that.
What was your coming out experience like to your family and loved ones?
I was terrified of coming out to my family. I love my family so much that the thought of them “disowning” me was so painful. But I knew I couldn’t live in the closet anymore. I felt like I was living another life and not being able to share an important part of me with them. And that was so hard. I’m really surprised that it turned out more beautiful than I had imagined. A week after I came out to my dad, my sister sent me a picture of him watching my old music videos with my nephew. I bawled my eyes out seeing the unconditional love that was unexpressed.
My cousin and her husband, who live in New York City, saw the music video, They called me and told me they will be in teamwils no matter what.
You said that you were dropped from your label in Asia after you came out. How did you overcome that?
I was worried that I’d lose my career as a singer because that’s a main concern for so many other artists in Asia. But I owe it to myself and those I love to be authentic, to create, write and sing from my heart and soul. The love and support from the gay community helped me overcome that. I feel so happy that I can now be me to everyone. And I hope I can continue doing music with the support from fans and everyone who believed in me.
What kind of feedback have you received from fans who have praised you for coming out?
Most of my fans encourage me along the lines of staying true to who I am and not letting anyone change that. And that is so heartening to see in the LGBT community of supporting one another when they go through something difficult. I love my fans so much and am really grateful that they make me feel so belonged and loved.
You dropped the video for “Open Up Babe” last week. It’s fantastic! How did you come up with the concept for it?
I lived in the closet for many years. I was always worried about portraying myself as gay in public. I know it’s something all of us gay people have to be wary of in public because of potential danger or bullying. I wanted to do a video about opening up to the world, having fun and loving passionately in nature. I used to worry so much about my actions in front of others all the time because i didn’t want them to discover my sexuality. And that made me not enjoy the moment. The music video is about looking past our fears and finding the beauty in every moment being you.
There’s a studly guy in the video with you. Is he someone special to you in real life as well?
Isn’t he? He’s Rob Pexton. Handsome, good hearted, cheerful and a ball of bright light. What’s beautiful about Rob is that he is shy at times, but he’s not afraid to show it.
He’s a good friend of mine, boys! Show him some love on his social media, it’ll bring him a lot of smiles. Also: he loves Britney Spears so if anyone knows her and ever finds the chance to let Britney know his die hard devotion, he’ll die happy!
What other projects lay ahead for you in 2019 and beyond?
I have an album on its way and I’m very excited about it. I can’t wait to show you guys. Also moving forward with collaborations and more creative arts on its way.
In closing, what is the one message you hope to get across now that you are an out and proud gay man?
Life is so much more fun when you’re being you. I promise.
More on Wils here.