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Olly Alexander: Schools should teach more queer history

Olly Alexander (Ian West/PA)
Olly Alexander (Ian West/PA)

Olly Alexander has said it would “make everybody’s lives better” if queer history was taught more extensively in schools.

The musician and actor starred in Channel 4 drama It’s A Sin earlier this year, which tells the story of a group of young friends living through the HIV/Aids crisis in the 1980s.

Alexander, 30, told Cosmopolitan UK he had “seen a lot of different responses” to the hit show.

Olly Alexander
Olly Alexander starred in Channel 4 drama It’s A Sin (Ian West/PA)

He added there were “quite a few younger people that had no idea… that this happened to a community not that long ago”.

“It set me aback because I hadn’t thought about that response, but it totally makes sense,” he said.

“You’re watching a show set not that long ago. And so there are some people who are shocked and can’t believe it.

“But I’ve also had that response from older people who were there at the time who didn’t know what was going on.”

He added: “So much of this happened in silence and was brushed under the carpet.

“And this isn’t taught in schools. It would make everybody’s lives better, and help understand each other better, if queer history [was covered].

“How HIV first appeared and what happened in the ’80s is a really important part of that.

“If there’s something you can do to help all the kids, why wouldn’t you do it?”

Olly Alexander
Olly Alexander said he has a ‘mental health checklist’ (Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA)

Alexander also told the magazine the first lockdown “took a real toll on my mental health”.

He added: “I live alone and was in a flat without outside space.

“I felt depressed. I didn’t want to put music out.”

Alexander added he has a “mental health checklist” that involves medication, therapy, exercise and maintaining his diet.

He said: “When my mental health starts to decline – or jump off a cliff – I stop doing a lot of those things.

“But because I’ve got this checklist and an amazing support network, it was just a couple of days instead of a month, like I might have had in the past. It passed.”

The June issue of Cosmopolitan UK is on sale from May 6.

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