Oliver Award-winner singer Matt Henry has released a personal tribute to the victims of the Orlando massacre.
The official video – released today exclusively via Gay Times – displays the power of love – regardless of gender and sexuality.
Matt performed the song Love is a Battlefield with Kinky Boots’ co-creator Cyndi Lauper on her recent UK tour – also dedicating the track to those affected by the tragedy. Matt currently stars as fabulous drag queen Lola in Tony and Olivier Award-winning musical Kinky Boots. A show that champions the power and love and acceptance.
— Matt Henry (@Mrmatthenry) June 12, 2017
To mark the official release of Love is a Battlefield, Matt’s penned a column for Gay Times on why the victims of the terrible tragedy in Orlando was something he wanted to commemorate in musical form.
Love wins. Love is complicated. Love is comforting. Love is inclusive. Love conquers. Love unites. Love divides. LOVE IS LOVE!
Today will the mark first anniversary of the Orlando Pulse massacre where innocent men and women from the LGBTQ community were brutally injured and murdered. I still remember the feeling I felt when I switched on the television and heard the news. My heart sank as I listened to the story unfold, and I couldn’t stop crying. I didn’t know these people but it really affected me. In the days that followed, all I could think was of the 49 innocent people who were killed because of who they love.
Growing up, I always felt that I had a handle on love, but the older I became the more I began to see that love is malleable. It can take many shapes and forms, an internal magma that flows through us and when we come into contact with each other we can experience love.
2016 was an amazing year. I was performing in the Olivier Award-winning show Kinky Boots which I’d won Best Actor for my role as Lola, and about to embark upon my first UK tour of my debut album Red Flare supporting Cyndi Lauper. I would say it was the happiest I had ever felt. There I was playing a fabulous drag queen attempting to change the world with my message of acceptance. ‘Accept people for who they are’, and ‘We can change the world if we change our minds’.
The tsunami of love and appreciation that came back night after night was unbelievable. Messages flowed in from mothers and fathers who had seen the show and could now begin to accept their sons and daughters for who they were. Love has a magical way of doing this. The show helped them to realise what really mattered – love. I also received letters and cards from people who were still fighting for acceptance and this made me appreciate where I was in my journey of acceptance.
From a young age, I was always aware that I was different but could never really put my finger on the reason I was teased and bullied by those who I thought loved me. I often call this the tough love years when all I wanted to do was fit in, but the harder I tried the more I felt alienated. It wasn’t until I got to university that I really found myself and began to meet people like me. I remember being invited to London’s G-A-Y at the Astoria for the first time and dancing to Love is a Battlefield. We danced until the sun came up. I had some of the best years of my youth there.
Everywhere you looked, there was joy and love radiating from peoples faces. This world felt like a safe place. Love is a Battlefield became our torch song. We would sing the chorus out loud and proud as we walked home from our debauched nights out. It was our song, it brought us together. it unified us and gave us hope that we could survive anything. Love is a Battlefield but love WILL win.
This song is about unity, defiance, empowerment and even in these darkest times, we can rise up like a glorious phoenix from the flames. I decided I wanted to feel that joy again and share the love I feel for others with a world that at the moment seems to be full of hate and anger, spread the word of love to everyone, from every background, colour, gender religion – be who you want to be and who you are.
Why should anyone be victimised for who we choose to love? We have fought long and hard enough for this – why let it stop now?
You can watch the official exclusive premiere of Matt’s song Love is a Battlefield below…