For Hayley Kiyoko, the first step in her journey to self acceptance as openly gay woman was finding her community. “I grew up feeling isolated in my feelings, not knowing another gay person or someone that was proud of being gay,” she said. “When I started opening myself to the world, I found hundreds and thousands of people that felt just like me. I was able to find this community and that community gave me this strength and that power.”
In honor of Pride month, the singer and advocate joined the TIME100 Talks series for an interview with executive editor Dan Macsai and a performance of “Runaway” and “What I Need.” During the conversation, Kiyoko reflected on her journey to acknowledging her sexuality in a song, beginning with “Girls Like Girls” in 2015. “That was the first song that I wrote actually naming the person that I love, which was a girl.”
Now, Kiyoko, whose fans call her “lesbian Jesus” focuses on created a safe place of acceptance and self-love for anyone who enjoys her music. “With my concerts…you create this safe space that people can just be who they are and feel free.”
This article is part of #TIME100Talks: Finding Hope, a special series featuring leaders across different fields encouraging action toward a better world. Want more? Sign up for access to more virtual events, including live conversations with influential newsmakers.