The iconic queer band Tegan and Sara, fronted by the queer twins with the same name, have set their sights on a new medium to express stories: writing in longform rather than verse.
The two have just released their new memoir, High School, and it discusses exactly what you might think: their lives in high school. However, this story will most likely surprise you, as the twins go in-depth over their interpersonal struggles, years of using drugs, and coming to terms with their sexualities.
Tegan and Sara Quin have been in the music business for more than 20 years, and from the outside, many have watched their career blossom. We have seen their encounters with ignorant fans and heard them gracefully address awkward questions from media, and that has given us a false understanding of what life was like for them on the inside.
In a recent interview with Terry Gross of NPR’s Fresh Air, the duo dove deep into the conversation and discussed the tumultuous years they went through while writing and collaborating on their first songs as a band and coming into their queerness.
With chapters alternating between Tegan and Sara, they revealed their struggle in sibling-dom. Their simultaneous yet extremely unique journey into finding their queerness actually acted as a splinter that drove a separation between the two rather than the closeness one may assume.
“My questioning of my identity and sexuality started in elementary school, and I never shared this with Tegan or spoke about it with her,” Sara said on Fresh Air. “I was really ashamed; I was really scared, and in high school, that was really the breaking point.”
For Sara, the road had been more difficult from the beginning. She was the one who came to terms with her sexuality first, and call it a twin thing, a sibling thing, or a proximity thing, she had her suspicions that Tegan was close on her heels.
“I had started to have romantic, sexual relationships with girls in secret, and Tegan scared me because I knew she understood what was happening with me, and I think I knew that was happening to her, too,” Sara said.
There lay the foundation for rivalry, not in the way of siblings fighting for the same things, but a fight for a young, LGBTQ person to be able find safety and normalcy.
Sara went on, “I couldn’t protect myself, because it wasn’t just me that was gay; it was Tegan who was gay also. I remember feeling a resentment and fear, because there were two gay people to protect, not just one.”
The span of the book goes through the three years of high school (in Canada), and the twins spare no detail, from finding their individuality and their sexuality to their journey using illicit drugs and then finding a new drug: music.
In addition to releasing High School, the band have a record coming out this Friday, September 27 with songs that they uncovered during the research process of their own lives.
The new album, Hey, I’m Just Like You, is a reimagined Tegan and Sara, a blending of what was their origin of pure love and joy of music and storytelling and their current understanding of production and enthusiasm in sharing their narrative with their audience.
“We were writing these really sophisticated, adventurous songs as teenagers, and that was why we ended up signing a record deal as teenagers and starting our career,” Sara said of the early recordings they discovered. “I don’t know why I allowed myself to believe that there wasn’t something of value for us to write about then.”
While most of us cringe at the thought of going back through old journals and tapes of ourselves from our hormonal and immature adolescents, the duo came to a place of peace and acceptance as they found the truth amid the stories from the past that are often rewritten.
“I’m definitely self conscious about some of the stuff I had created, but some of what Sara created from that time has stuck with me for the last twenty years,” Tegan said. “I think Sara’s always been spectacular at saying a lot with very little, and I think she was able to do that even as a teenager.”
The book High School can be purchased at all major book retailers and the album will be available online and for streaming this Friday. Visit teganandsara.com for more information and upcoming tour dates.