If you've ever been to a concert, you know that rush of excitement and adrenaline when the lights go off and those first riffs of the opening song being to play. All the waiting to see your favorite band perform live in front of you is paying off. The roars are deafening. The venue is alive. You open your mouth to scream, but since it's drowned out in the tens of thousands of other cheers, you can't even hear yourself.
Now, to understand what I was feeling on the night of the Panic! At The Disco concert, take that feeling and multiply it by about five.
When the stadium lights shut off, it activated a primeval instinct within me. I became possessed by the ancient spirit of a Neanderthal ancestor. I went complete "Planet of the Apes" in the stands. I think blacked out a little bit.
Ok, so, I went a little apeshit. I'm man enough to admit it. Brendon Urie (for those of you who don't know, he's the lead singer) is one of my heroes and seeing him live after five years of worshipping the ground he walks on was a bit overwhelming. I was already still shaking from watching Hayley Kiyoko wave a pride flag on stage while singing "Girls Like Girls." I was also still shaking from seeing nearly every attendee wearing some sort of pride accessory—nearly everyone wore a rainbow bracelet, necklace, or t-shirt. Many wore their pride flags tied around their necks like superhero capes.
For the first time in a very, very long time, I felt like I belonged. I felt unashamed of my rainbow buttons and patches on my backpack. I felt safe to be proud.
In 2013, Panic! At The Disco released the song Girls/Girls/Boys, a song about a bisexual girl who loves, as the title suggests, both girls and boys. The lyric, "Love is not a choice" became nothing short of a mantra for the gay community, and Brendon fully endorsed it, stating: "Some people say, 'Being gay, being straight, that's a choice. You choose to do it.' I beg to differ; I don't think that's true."
From there, he made a Spotify playlist for Pride month. He wrote a love letter to the LBGT+ community. He supports nonbinary folks who use they/them pronouns. He started a human rights charity called "Highest Hopes Foundation."
On July 6th, in an interview with Papermag, he came out as pansexual, stating: "If a person is great, then a person is great. I just like good people, if your heart's in the right place. I'm definitely attracted to men. It's just people that I am attracted to."
He's not just an ally anymore. He's a man who's attracted to men, women, and all variations or lack thereof. He's one of us. He fights with us.
Brendon Urie is my hero for a number of reasons. I love how unapologetic he is about who he is and what he stands for. Holding onto your integrity in today's day and age is pretty terrifying, especially if you're a person of color or part of the LBGT+ community. When faced with backlash, Brendon doesn't back down. He doesn't agree with them. He shuts them down on site.
I remember feeling absolutely breathless when Hayley Kiyoko came on stage, looked out into the sold-out arena, and said, "I'm Hayley Kiyoko. And if you don't know me...I'm obsessed with girls."
Hayley is a proud lesbian. She is a woman who loves women, and she is loud and proud about it.
When a fellow gay person is loud and proud, his or her confidence inspires others to be loud and proud. Because in a world where being gay can feel like the loneliest thing in the world, seeing someone else—someone like you—being loud and unapologetic makes the world a little less scary.
You don't feel alone anymore. You don't feel like the outcast or the "odd one out." Surrounded by people who are also gay, who aren't afraid to show it because they have no reason to be in this space. There, I felt at home.
Panic! At The Disco fostered a safe space for the gay community at the concert by showing us that hatred and bigotry had no place in the venue. Brendon supported the gay community for years and put his money where his mouth is. He is pansexual and proud; inspiring so many other gay people to accept who they are and revel in it.
I will always, always be grateful to him for providing a space where I felt comfortable and safe to be myself.
And to scream until I was too hoarse to talk after he came out on stage shirtless. Goddamn. All dressed up and naked, indeed.