Writing for Change: Heather Peace's big gay anthem
Famous in part for being the only openly lesbian cast member of hit sapphic drama Lip Service, Peace has often appeared somewhat uncomfortable with being a spokeswoman for the community. Yet, with her second album The Thin Line, released this month, she has moved from the more personal and introspective style of her debut album Fairytales to one that takes seriously her role-model status.
Peace explains: “My own personal life is definitely less apparent in this album and more of my writing this time came from a place outside of my own self-indulgence! I think that’s because during the writing and the recording of The Thin Line, I was really happy in my own life and that wasn’t necessarily the case during the writing of a lot of Fairytales. Things that moved me this time were often other people’s stories and things they were going through. Or things on a wider spectrum such as the lyrics for We Can Change or The Thin Line, which deal with equal rights and the way we look at an international crisis on the news.”
“I try to help tackle the bigger issue. I try to be visible in the media and live my life honestly” – Heather Peace
Politics on a wider scale is more at the forefront of The Thin Line. The first single We Can Change is an opportunity for Peace to comment on how she, as a gay woman, feels about the prejudices that still exist in our society. Inspired by a quote given to her by a friend – 'The similarities are far more interesting than the differences' – Peace started to think about how to counteract prejudice. She says: “I just think if people spent a bit more time looking closely at the fact we’re all much more similar than we are different then there would be less hate and less prejudice.”
Various gay rights milestones were also being reached at the time, with the equal marriage bill in particular bringing into sharp focus how much hostility still exists towards the LGBT community. “I was watching the equal marriage bill go through parliament,” says Peace. “And although we got there, it was tough to watch some of the comments along the way.”
Another factor for the song, which in many ways defines the album, was that younger gay people who are struggling with being bullied often contact her. As part of this she involves herself in charities such as Diversity Role Models, The Albert Kennedy Trust and Kaleidoscope, which support LGBT young people. She says: “We Can Change is dedicated to all of those kids, because although I might send them a tweet to cheer them up, fundamentally I can’t do anything directly for them. I try to help tackle the bigger issue. I try to be visible in the media and live my life honestly and I go into schools to speak to kids and hopefully this all plays a little part in making their lives a little easier – if not right now, maybe in the future. The more gay people there are being visible and saying 'so what?' will hopefully lead to less kids being bullied in the future, because it won’t be such a misunderstood thing.”