C. Duncan On Opening Up About His Identity
“If you’re young and confused give yourself time, don’t pretend to be anything you’re not. Give yourself time to realize who you are and it’ll happen.” – C. Duncan
Coming out can mean many different things and happens at different stages. For Scottish singer C. Duncan, it took him time to open up after realizing he was gay.
“I would’ve been probably about 11 I think,” he said. “I think I was just in high school when I first realized.”
Having gone to a private “straight laced” school, Duncan never felt comfortable being openly gay. Telling only the close friends who had come out as well and hiding his sexuality for nearly nine years, he noted how he had to just keep it in and try to be normal.
“I guess until I went to university I thought ‘well I’ll grow out of it, I’ll find a woman I’m attracted to and I’ll date them’,” said Duncan. “It wasn’t until 19 or 20, that I knew its never going ot happen and it was only then that I realized that I was properly gay.”
Duncan’s time in university proved to be much more fruitful and honest. Attending the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland for music composition, he was able to talk to his family and friends.
“I was very very lucky,” he said, joking that “not a lot of straight people” went to his college.
His friends and family were supportive of him. Adding that his dad had known and was cool about it but his mom took a little longer to come around.
“Mum was cool with it as well, it just took longer for her to adjust,” said Duncan. “Its probably her staunch Catholic upbringing and what my gran and great aunt think, but after a few weeks she was totally cool with it and is very supportive now.”
His sexuality does affect his music directly. He realized that across his first two albums he was conscious of not using pronouns in love songs. In addition to the lack of pronouns, hes been able to use his music to connect with himself and in turn his sexuality.
“In the new album I started to introduce male pronouns to express that I’m gay,” said Duncan, adding that his previous records allowed him to find himself and what music was to him. “It helps me to express myself … I’m a bit of a romantic and I can express myself and connect with my music more so to who I am and who I’m singing it to.”
Duncan also finds himself connecting with LGBTQ fans more frequently, something he wasn’t really expecting.
“I noticed a lot of our audience members are queer people,” he said. “I didn’t expect new to travel so fast but I guess people who are like-minded flock together.”
His shock comes from his personal view of himself, an under-the-radar kind of guy.
“In the past my personality hasn’t come into my music as much, I didn’t do a bunch of interviews and I wasn’t open about myself,” said Duncan. “ I’ve not been in the media limelight in such a way that none of my personal business has been a part of my career.”
Influenced by artists such as The Carpenters, Julia Holter, Bjork, Grizzly Bear and Japanese city-pop musician Tatsuro Yamashita, Duncan’s identity means a lot to him.
“I like being gay, I like the fact that … it sounds really big headed but I can relate to people who have had big life events,” he said. “It is my identity and I hope that it makes me slightly more empathetic.”
Duncan enjoys the support and friendliness of the community, calling it “a fantastic world of people who support each other.” If he could collaborate with Bjork or John Grant he’d jump on the opportunity in a heartbeat.
Describing his sound as “baroque pop with a cool twist”, he asks that people listen to the album but has a sincere message for queer folks.
“If you’re young and confused give yourself time, don’t pretend to be anything you’re not,” said Duncan. “Give yourself time to realize who you are and it’ll happen.”
You can stream C. Duncan’s latest release, Health on Spotify here.
The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people under 25, according to their website. Click here to make a donation.