The Religious Trauma Song for Queer People

todayFebruary 21, 2023 33

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By SK Guillory

Music Journalist

Troy Sivan’s and Jónsi’s song “Revelation” was written for the biographical drama film “Boy Erased.” Gerard Conoley’s memoir turned movie chronicles his experience of being a pastor’s son, coming out as gay and having to endure the atrocities of conversion therapy.

If you’ve ever visited a church worship service, you have felt the intense emotional pull that worship music creates. This is done on purpose to make the listener feel closer to God. Through music, Sivan and Jónsi created the same feel but with a different intent.

Sivan’s lyrics allow a feeling of liberation from the toxic ideals Christians hold over the LGBTQ+. He sings, “It’s a revelation/ There’s no hell in what I’ve found/ And no kingdom shout/ How the tides are changing/As you liberate me now/And the walls come down.” God won’t smite you for your queerness.

As a queer person and ex-Christian myself, there’s a certain kind of despair and fear one feels when the realization that you are gay kicks in. Are you going to be excommunicated from the church? Will your friends think differently of you? Will your parents accept you? Will you stop being loved? And the list goes on.

“Revelation” validates that feeling for acceptance from the church that the queer community never received.  As a transgender individual, I feel this song uplifts the part of me that was put down and stomped on for so long. Being held to a certain standard all your life would make anyone go stir crazy and want to break from limiting expectations.

The lyrics “Won’t you liberate me now?/From a holy bound,” speak to being delivered from harmful anti-gay rhetoric and embraced into free will. Imagine having a sock shoved down your throat your entire life; you can’t speak your truth, and you can only listen to what you are being told. That is what being queer in a homophobic, Christian environment feels like.

Along with the lyrics, the orchestration of the music is reminiscent of what you would hear in a church. It starts with a simple piano melody and slowly builds up with synth sound and a steady 4/4 beat on the ride cymbal. The irony in the song itself adds to the powerful meaning behind it.

In an interview with Billboard, Sivan said, “The idea of that person being a revelation in your life, where you can kind of do something that feels so natural and so right and be fine on the other side, that was a really potent thing in my head.” You hold fear in one hand and trust in the other in your first queer relationship. Fear that God will strike you down with his mighty hand and trust that nothing bad comes from loving to your truest form.

Listen to the song, absorb its message, absorb what it means to you, and share it with your other religiously traumatized friends. Watch “Boy Erased” while you’re at it, “Revelation” appears in pieces all throughout the movie, by the end you will be crying but it will be worth it.


Written by: Preethi Mangadu

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