By Pujanee Galappaththi
This week, we spoke to upcoming musical sensation Gayan Rathnayake, aka. GaaPiNk, whose new single “Pose Like a Queen” is an LGBTIQ anthem. According to him, this song is his way of expressing himself and spreading the message of being free and confident. Rathnayake is currently working on the music video for “Pose Like a Queen”, which will hopefully be released in mid-December.
Having started his musical journey in 2017, Rathnayake considers Lana Del Ray and Lady Gaga to be his ultimate musical icons. Having released a few brilliant singles like “Kill me Now” and “Precious”, Rathnayake decided to proudly tell the world who he is and give back to the LGBTIQ community with “Pose Like a Queen”.
“In the struggles of making it as a musician, I participated in a few platforms for amateur musicians and with the influence and a lot of support from my friends, I decided to release a song in 2017 and then I took it from there. I have received a lot of positive comments and supportive feedback and I am very grateful for them. ‘Pose Like a Queen’ is something I am very proud of,” he added.
Being actively involved in the local LGBTIQ community since 2010, Rathnayake is personally not a fan of labelling and segregating people. “I think that one’s orientation is a personal affair and I believe it should remain that way. Having said that, I also believe that visibility of members of the LGBTIQ community is crucial when trying to create advocacy and awareness too. In the process of normalising LGBTIQ affairs and people, it is necessary to create visibility. However, this has to be done in a manner where people realise that members of any community are no different from the rest of us, that the sexual orientation of a person is simply a part of them and not their entire identity. This can be achieved by educating people on these affairs and informing them of their rights,” he said.
When asked about his approach to activism, Rathnayake said: “I am very happy to be a part of this community. However, my approach to activism is not just demanding for rights. I believe change can be achieved simply by encouraging and helping people to be themselves and be comfortable in their skin. And I believe it is essential to become a role model for those who need strength and lead by example.
“I am usually a rather loud personality. I sometimes like wearing heavy makeup, dark eyeshadow, a lot of highlights, wearing bright colours, heels, and growing out my hair – this is who I am and I feel very good about myself and am frankly proud of the things I have achieved. I want to help in creating a society where people can feel happy and safe to be themselves and flaunt it confidently. This, in my opinion, is the whole purpose of increasing visibility as a queer person,” he added.
Speaking about his challenges as an artist, Rathnayake said: “I need to say that most people in our country do not appreciate and respect art the way it is. I have gotten a lot of, ‘why are you trying to sing like a woman’ throughout my musical journey. My humble advice is to know your capacity and do what you want – go crazy, have fun, and don’t worry about the haters.”
Finally, Rathnayake extended his heartfelt love and gratitude to his dear friends who have always “motivated and supported me, including ‘Yazmine’, my best friend Ranaka”.