CW: The following article describes sexual abuse and trauma.
Joshua Bassett is opening up about being a survivor of sexual abuse.
In a new GQ profile, the High School Musical: The Musical: The Series star revealed that he has been doing a lot of soul-searching in recent months, involving therapy, journaling, and allowing himself to authentically feel every emotion — even ones that are painful. That emotional work, the actor and singer explained, has unearthed traumatic memories from his past that he’s beginning to process now.
“I experienced sexual abuse a lot in my childhood,” Joshua told Willa Bennett during their interview at a recording studio in Upstate New York. “I didn’t remember that until last year, which is pretty insane. I buried it so far. And when I was a teen, a much older man routinely abused me, and I wasn’t able to see it for what it was at the time.”
Joshua, who recently released a trio of new tracks, explained that one of the titles is about the lasting affects of these experiences, describing his song “Set Me Free” as “an anthem for me and the sort of people who’ve held pain and power over me my whole life.”
But the singer-songwriter noted that he feels “so much stronger” today than in the past, and talked about plans to start a podcast dedicated to “heavy talks,” sharing that he hopes it’ll become “the podcast that I wish I had when I was a kid.”
The HSMTMTS star, who came out as part of the LGBTQ+ community earlier this year, has been on a journey to re-connect with himself for a while. And being vulnerable with his own emotions in the hopes of inspiring and supporting others is something that Joshua has continued to champion. In a previous interview with Teen Vogue’s Gianluca Russo, Joshua explained that he felt encouraged to repress his emotions from an early age due to societal expectations of men. “That sort of forced me to kind of push that more sensitive side down,” he added. “And I think as I’ve gotten older, I sort of realized how unhealthy that is and how important it is to be in tune with your emotions and allow yourself to be vulnerable and be seen.”
Ultimately, Joshua has continued to share that he hopes his music and openness will reach other people and change lives. “If you’re honest with yourself, you can’t go wrong,” he told Teen Vogue in May of this year. “The beauty of being artists is when you express yourself authentically and honestly, it resonates with so many other people because so much of our human experience is universal.”
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you can seek help by calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673). For more resources on sexual assault, visit RAINN, End Rape on Campus, Know Your IX, and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
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