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‘Not gay enough for WeHo’: Glee singer shunned by LA on why he’s hitting back

‘Not gay enough for WeHo’: Glee singer shunned by LA on why he’s hitting back

Rilan, who was one of Glee's Dalton Academy Warblers, is no fan of LA | Photos: provided

I’m the weird kid. I always have been. In my close-knit Italian Catholic family, I was the black sheep. In my small, Southern private school, I was the artist among the athletes. The goth among the preps. I was the theatre kid, the nerd, and the loner all in one. I didn’t fit in anywhere.

What got me through the cliques of high school was knowing that somewhere out there was a place where I belonged. To me, that was Hollywood. It was the land of opportunity for misfits. I thought what made me weird back home would make me cool in La La Land. There had to be a reason why they called it Hollyweird, right?

I was wrong – I didn’t fit in. I didn’t belong at all. If anything, I was weirder here than I was back home.

I was about as far from what anyone wanted to hear or see. My music was too pop, my look was too dark. My voice was too theatre. I was told by people I worked with that being myself wasn’t ‘relatable’ or ‘marketable’ or ‘down the middle’ enough to work – I felt like I hand just arrived and already failed.

I didn’t mix with the crowd socially, either. I’d hop between existing scenes without ever being accepted into a community, be it mainstream or counterculture. I didn’t own enough muscle shirts to get a second glance at the gay clubs on Santa Monica Boulevard.

I wasn’t grunge enough to hang with the rockers at the Viper Room or the Roxy, and forget the local hipster haunts of the Eastside. The moment you mention pop culture, you’re ousted.

I just wasn’t enough of anything – I wasn’t gay enough for WeHo, tough enough for the Sunset Strip, or alternative enough for Silver Lake. I was eating my cafeteria lunch alone, even in my fantasy.

What held me together was my music. It was different, but it was me. That’s when it truly hit me. Different is what makes me me.

‘Normal people never changed anything. I’m here to shake things up’

After years of trying to be what made others comfortable, I finally gave up. I gave up trying to make myself into something other people could understand. I’ve never been easily digestible. Instead of watering myself down to someone I’m not, I served myself up straight and full bodied. That has been the best decision of my life.

I’m not normal, not trendy. I’m not what’s happening now. I am what’s happening next. To be ‘cool’ these days is to be normal. It’s to be like everyone else. It is to conform.

I’ve never conformed in my life, so why start now? I realize now more than ever that in a world so concerned with social media and followers and statistics, the best thing anyone can do is be atypical. Screw the statistics. Fuck what attracts someone else’s followers.

Be exactly who you are. Being exactly who you are is what will attract those who will actually follow you into your personal war against conformity. Not just those who will double tap a photo of your overpriced avocado toast from brunch last Sunday.

Someone told me the other day that hating Hollywood is the most unrelatable thing in the world. It makes you seem like an ungrateful rich kid unaware of his own privilege. I disagree. Hollywood isn’t confined to Los Angeles. It’s not even confined to California. Hollywood is everywhere. It’s an idea, a facade, a faux glitz and forced glamor and unattainable perfection.

‘Weird is new cool’

It’s the cool kids you’ll never be. Those kids are everywhere. They were in my school, at all of my gigs, and are still looking at me from across the bar today. But that’s okay. Cool kids are the norm. There’s nothing cool about being normal. Normal people never changed anything. I’m here to shake things up.

I’m the weird kid. And I’m proud to be. I think weird kids out there can relate to what I have to say and sing and share with the world. Cool is over. Weird is new cool. Us weird kids are taking over.

Rilan’s new track, Love or Drugs is out now. ‘Love Or Drugs is a satire. It’s everything I’ve seen while going out and trying to fit in in the Los Angeles music scene. It’s everything that people do but don’t talk about.’ Follow Rilan on YouTube, Instagram and also Facebook

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