Song of the Week: HEAVEN


The past few weeks have been a very important yet turbuletnt time for the LGBTQ community; LGBTQ artist Troye Sivan’s “HEAVEN” is just as relevant now as it was when released in 2015.

On Oct. 8, 2019, the Supreme Court heard three landmark cases about LGBTQ workers’ rights. The New York Time reports that in the first two cases, two men were fired for being gay; in the third case, a woman was fired for being transgender. The rulings on whether the Civil Rights Act protects LGBTQ workers from termination based on their identity are expected to come out in June 2020.

The hearing of these cases happened to align with National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11 and Atlanta Pride on Oct. 12. Fear loomed over these celebrations of pride. Sivan describes the same feelings in his song “HEAVEN.”

Sivan publicly came out as gay in 2013. Since then, he’s unapologetically incorporated his identity into his music, but “HEAVEN” directly expresses Sivan’s struggle with his identity in the most heart-wrenching way.

The verses of the song deal with Sivan’s desire to hide his sexuality because he thinks it’s the best for everyone; “Trying to save face and daddy heartbreak / I’m lying through my teeth,” Sivan sings.

It is the chorus of the song that truly makes the listener feel the emotions Sivan felt. The first line of the chorus, “Without losing a piece of me / How do I get to heaven?”, epitomizes the struggle between religion and sexuality that Sivan faces. He directly references the common religious taunts that homosexuality is a sin and that gay people go to hell.

At the end of the chorus, Sivan finally has the realization, “So if I’m losing a piece of me / Maybe I don’t want heaven?” He is coming to terms with his sexuality despite the negativity and hatred he faces. He feels as though his identity is a central part of him that he can’t change, even if that means he’ll face criticism his whole life.

The beautiful lyrics of “HEAVEN” are paired with a sonical buildup mimicking Sivan’s emotions. The verses are slow and soft, a tinge of sadness in them. But as the chorus arrives, the beat gets louder as Sivan’s frustrations rise. Sivan is nearly screaming as he sings, “All my time is wasted / Feeling like my heart’s mistaken.” The beat then fades away when he sings the last line of the chorus where he comes to accept himself.

Though Sivan came out publicly in 2013, he came out to his family two years earlier when he was 15. This is referenced in the song’s bridge where Sivan is once again loud and emotional, repeating the lines “So I’m counting to fifteen / Counting to fifteen, counting to fifteen” several times. Sivan had been hiding such an integral part of him for so long, demonstrating how badly he wanted to be true to himself.

After the bridge, the music stops completely as Sivan repeats one of the verses. Then, he gets back into the chorus, “How do I get to heaven?” being sung louder than ever before. The song ends with the music calming down before stopping completely, reflecting how Sivan is now at peace with himself now that he’s come to terms with his sexuality.

Even the visuals reflect Sivan’s message. Sivan released the music video for “HEAVEN” the day before President Donald Trump’s inauguration. The video featured clips of love and activism from the LGBTQ community throughout history. Though Sivan is not from the U.S., he was addressing President Trump’s statements about and treatment of LGBTQ people. The fear he and other LGBTQ people felt then is the same as the worry felt now with the Supreme Court hearing such vital cases amidst religious freedom laws coming out after the legalization of same-sex marriage in the U.S. in 2015. The expression of love by Sivan in the song along with the images of people being true to themselves only serves to enhance the song’s message.

Even without being a part of the LGBTQ community, one can empathize with Sivan’s raw emotion in his song. “HEAVEN” is a poetic and moving expression of pride in the face of adversity.