Australia's Alex Lahey talks gay marriage legalization: ‘The world changes’

Lyndsey Parker

When rising singer-songwriter Alex Lahey released her witty, confessional debut LP, I Love You Like a Brother, in October last year, same-sex marriage still wasn’t legal in her native Australia. In the closing track, “There’s No Money,” the openly gay artist lamented, “We can’t marry even if we want to/But if we moved in, could we take the heat?/Living in two homes really ain’t for me.”

But what a difference a couple of months make: In December 2017, Australia’s Parliament voted overwhelmingly to legalize gay marriage. Speaking to Yahoo Entertainment after her packed acoustic set in the Toyota Music Den at Delaware’s Firefly Music Festival this Saturday, she looks back on the anthem inspired by her frustration at the time, when she sang, “My little brother’s married at 22” (to a woman he hadn’t known very long), but she still couldn’t tie the knot with her longtime girlfriend.

“At the time that I was writing it, we didn’t have marriage equality in Australia, and it was like a very sort of trivial thing for a while,” says the 25-year-old Melbourne troubadour, recalling years of conservative resistance Down Under. “We have it now, after a bit of an arduous road. But yeah, it was a funny thing to reflect on at the time. And also, it’s really interesting to sort of date songs in that way. Because things change. The world changes.”

And Lahey’s fans celebrated the change with her. “An exciting [moment] that happened recently is that marriage equality legislation passed through in Australia, and about a month after that we played a number of festivals, and one woman proposed to her now-fiancée in the crowd during one of my songs, which was apparently ‘their song,’” says Lahey with a grin. “And that was really sweet.”

Alex Lahey (Photo: Getty Images)

Lahey has been traveling the world supporting the album (she first came to America after she impressed indie duo Tegan and Sara at Australia’s 2016 Splendour in the Grass festival and they invited her to join them on tour), and she’s encountered many fans who have told her how much her vulnerable, relatable songs — like “There’s No Money” and “I Haven’t Been Taking Care of Myself” — have meant to them. “There’s definitely a lot of those stories, which I hold really close to me, and they’re almost like, with some of them, the most intimate connection that you can have with a person,” Lahey says. “I think all my songs are very, very personal, and it’s definitely really funny when there are jokes or funny lines in the songs that people sing back. … It’s just a dream to play music to people who want to hear it.”

Alex Lahey was one of the breakout stars of the Firefly Festival on Saturday, but the day also offered great sets from established acts like Vance Joy (who dedicated a song of his own to a newly engaged couple in the crowd), Portugal. The Man (who covered the Beatles and the Stones!), Lil’ Wayne, and Rag’n’Bone Man. Check out other Firefly Saturday highlights below, and come back Sunday at 2 p.m. PT/5 p.m. ET for Yahoo Entertainment’s final day of live streaming with alt-J, Lord Huron, Betty Who, and more.