The xx’s Oliver Sim receives wave of support after disclosing HIV status

The singer also spoke about his newfound friendship with Jimmy Somerville who features on Sim's latest single 'Hideous'.

Portrait of Oliver Sim.
Image: Instagram: @hideousbastard

Oliver Sim, bassist and vocalist for English indie-rock group The xx, revealed his HIV status publicly on Monday, May 23. The singer who is now working on a solo project away from the band took to Instagram to disclose that he has been living with the disease since he was 17 years-old.

“Early on in the making of my record, Hideous Bastard, I realised that I was writing a lot about fear and shame,” he said in a brave and lengthy post.

“Two thirds in, having a good idea of what the record was about, I realised I’d been circling around one of the things that has probably caused me the most fear and shame. My HIV status.

“I’ve been living with HIV since I was 17 and it’s played with how I’ve felt towards myself, and how I’ve assumed others have felt towards me, from that age and into my adult life.”

Sim added that one particular song on the record, ‘Hideous’, was written specifically about his experience with HIV. Before releasing it into the world, he was convinced by his mother to have conversations with people in his life first, and talk about it with his nearest and dearest.

“I’ve spent the past two years having those conversations, which was difficult and uncomfortable to start with, but has allowed me to feel a lot freer and has only strengthened my relationship with myself and with the people in my life,” the musician revealed.

He also talked about his newfound friendship with gay Scottish singer Jimmy Somerville, who has “been such a powerful voice around HIV and AIDS for decades,” Sims wrote.

“He reminded me to not take myself too seriously, no good comes from that!

“’Am I Hideous?’ feels far less like a question I’m asking the world now. I know the answer.”

The announcement from Oliver Sim has been met with widespread support. His bandmates Romy and Jamie from The xx took to Twitter yesterday to share information on his upcoming album and added: “Oliver’s approach of tackling difficult subjects with openness, celebrations and his unique sense of humour is inspiring to see.

“HIV is something Oliver has lived with for many years and as his best friends we have seen how hard that has been to navigate, but to watch him flourish through this process and genuinely use art and storytelling to heal, has been one of the great moments of our friendship,” they shared, adding “We love you Oliver”.

Member of ACT UP New York, Jason Rosenberg, tweeted, “All the love to Oliver Sim for sharing his story,” while HIV activist and writer Nathaniel J Hall said: “Big #HIVhero vibes for the stigma smashing Oliver Sim”.

Oliver Sim’s empowering new track ‘Hideous’ featuring Jimmy Somerville is out now. The song is accompanied by a music video taken from Oliver and Yann Gonzalez’s queer short film of the same name which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival.

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