DJ Spencer Brown has come out as gay.
The 26-year-old techno artist — who began his career touring with Avicii and since gone on to headline major music events like the Electric Daisy Carnival — penned a coming-out essay Monday for Billboard.
"I am gay. It’s so much easier to say today than it was even a few years ago," Brown wrote. "While I have never publicly denied this part of me, I have also never spoken out about it. I will no longer live in fear."
In the piece, the San Francisco-based DJ said that growing up in a "heteronormative community" in Dallas, he grappled with "unshakable self-hate" and "crippling anxiety." However, he found some comfort in the local dance music scene.
"As a teenager, I would sneak into shows to be a part of a beautiful community where all races, genders, sexualities, and religions came together to celebrate life," Brown wrote. "It didn’t matter who you were, and it still doesn’t. As long as you bring good energy, you are welcome. It was where I belonged, and it’s still where I belong."
At the same time in his youth, Brown was also grappling with an OCD diagnosis. Combined, "every day was a struggle." He denied his sexuality for years and only began to reckon with it about six years ago.
"When I was 20-years-old, my depression hit rock-bottom during a summer in Los Angeles," Brown wrote. "I vividly remember barely being able to get out of bed only to cry while looking at myself in the mirror. It crossed my mind for the first time. Am I gay? It can’t be. No way. My family will be devastated. I’ll lose my friends. I won’t have a future. I can’t have kids. What is the point of living?
"That lowest, teary-eyed moment in the mirror was my turning point. It’s been six years since that point, and life has improved so drastically that I can now laugh at my mind’s obsessive predictions for a catastrophic future."
By confiding in close friends and family members over the years, things got better for Brown. "Each person I told, the support system strengthened. My gratitude deepened. The self-hate began to fade. The support cascaded," he stated. "There was finally light. I found a reason to love life. I found myself, which catalyzed my presence. I began to understand mindfulness. And I discovered myself musically."
In the essay, Brown also noted that he has been "extremely lucky" in his experience compared with the struggles non-white LGBTQ+ people face. He is now a supporter of the Center for Black Equity.
Ultimately, Brown, who released his second album, Stream of Consciousness, in January, hopes his story resonates "with anyone struggling with gender or sexual identity, wherever you are in the world."
"What they say is true: it gets better," Brown said. "First and foremost, learn to love yourself, and surround yourself with those who love you for the person you are. Toxicity and self-hate do not belong in your life. If you’re looking for brothers and sisters, the dance music community welcomes you with open arms. It saved me during my darkest times, as I know it can do the same for you."