Bryce Xavier is an open book. Just five minutes into our conversation on Zoom, the energetic singer-songwriter has revealed his zodiac sign (Aquarius), the L.A. neighborhood he lives in (Hollywood), and whether or not he’s enjoyed spending more time at home amid the pandemic. “I literally am such an in-person connection type of guy,” he tells me, “so I’ve definitely had to still get acquainted with, like, Zooms and stuff.”
It’s a surprising revelation for someone with nearly 4 million combined followers between Instagram and TikTok. Zoom may not be his platform du jour, but it helps me understand the face behind the following a little bit more. He’s a sucker for Paramore (his tee says it all) and he’s not shy about his political opinions (the “f*ck the police” poster behind him is a giveaway). As a gay man a decade older than Xavier, I see him as a budding example of the millions of teens like him who are so brilliantly self-aware.
Xavier’s transparency is exactly what’s helped him make a name for himself at just 19 years old. In January, the musician and social media star — then known for splashy breakout singles like 2020’s “Bus Ride Away” — took to Instagram and TikTok to publicly come out as pansexual, a revelation he says he decided to make on a whim. (Pansexual individuals are attracted to all genders.)
The reason? “My boyfriend actually inspired me,” he says, explaining he and Matthew Macias kept their relationship a secret for about four months before he decided to share it with the world. “He came out to his parents, who are very religious, Christian people with views against homosexuality. The fact that he was strong enough to do that really inspired me.”
Xavier’s coming out experience was as Gen Z as it gets — as in, it was all about perfecting his posts. “I rewrote it probably 1,000 times,” he says of his lengthy Instagram caption, in which he shared vulnerable details about his sexuality while subsequently announcing the news of his budding relationship. In tandem, Xavier also shared a super-cute coming out TikTok that’s racked up nearly 2 million views since. He says, “I remember it was exactly 10 a.m. and I just clicked post and didn’t look back, didn’t open my phone for like two or three hours [afterward].”
From that moment on, everything changed. Xavier is still inundated with DMs from young fans thanking him for setting an example for unabashedly being yourself, and it provided a lightbulb moment that inspired is latest single, “Romeo,” a self-described “gay love story” written about his relationship. In June, Xavier was named one of TikTok’s 2021 LGBTQ+ Trailblazers.
For Xavier and Macias, Pride Month, their first as an out couple, is a celebratory milestone that, at one point, felt out of reach. “I used to have to crop him out of videos. For months, it just always sucked. There were day-to-day reminders of like, damn, we can’t tell people we’re dating; this feels horrible,” he says. “That’s what ‘Romeo’ is about and why it means so much to us. It’s literally just our love story.”
His boyfriend’s coming out motivated Xavier to look in the mirror and reevaluate what matters to him. “I asked myself, who am I really hiding from? I always preach that I need to be my most authentic self — and I wasn’t doing that. I didn’t feel like I was abiding by what I tell my followers, and it felt really fake to me,” he says. Practicing authenticity has since become a top priority: “I see it as my job to make sure I’m speaking up for voices that can’t.”
As an artist, Xavier aspires to speak up about LGBTQ+ issues and use his platform for good. He cites Troye Sivan, Kehlani, and Kim Petras as queer musicians he admires because “they not only live their truth, but they advocate for other people, too” — a major goal of his. While he won’t spill the details, he recently collaborated with an LGBTQ+ artist whose career he’d love to emulate. The results of their soon-to-come project? “You’re going to be shook.”
Coming out was a liberating experience for Xavier, and while he acknowledges choosing to do so is completely up to each individual, he has some words of wisdom for anyone struggling to understand their identity. “Find who you are before you let someone else tell you,” he says. “So many people are going to label you and try to say what you are. At the end of the day, you have to be the first person to accept you before anyone else is going to. If you know who you are, no one can take that away from you.”