Hozier, a shaggy Irish-born singer-songwriter from a seaside resort in Ireland, is not necessarily the person you'd expect to become a champion of gay rights in Russia. However, that's what happened when the 24-year-old singer, born Andrew Hozier Byrne, produced a music video for the heartrending song, "Take Me to Church."
The video, which featured a gay couple that is kidnapped and attacked by a group of masked men, directly addressed the anti-gay laws of Russia. Posted on September 25 of last year, the video immediately went viral--notching over 230,000 views in the first week-and-a-half--as media attention turned to Russian politics ahead of the Sochi Winter Olympic Games.
"I always stand by the song and the point that the video made, so it's never a chore," Hozier told the London Evening Standard. "The song is about loving somebody, and the video is about people who would undermine what it is to love somebody. I'd been following what was going on in Russia, where far-Right groups were doing these organised attacks, filming them and putting them on social media."
While not gay himself, Hozier aspires to challenge his audience by singing about issues, such as homophobia and crimes of the Catholic Church, both of which are directly addressed in the lyrics and video's imagery of "Take Me to Church." His music critiques institutionalized oppressions that prevent many fans from freely expressing their humanity.