Opinion

Why I'm still on Team Hedley

Allegations of sexual misconduct — even rape — are incredibly serious. But right now, that's all they are: allegations. Nevertheless, their effect has been to destroy the lives of members of the band, as well as the spirit of fans who have followed them throughout their entire careers.

Hedley's music made darkest days seem a little brighter. This is how I'm choosing to remember them

"Allegations of sexual misconduct — even rape — are incredibly serious. But right now, that's all they are: allegations," writes Kate Graves in this CBC opinion piece. (Darren Calabrese/Canadian Press)

When you are dedicated to a band for more than half your life, you never want the music to end. You know it will one day: they'll announce a farewell tour, you'll see them one last time and they'll go out on a high note. Or at least, that's what you expect.

That's not what happened in the case of Hedley, the band to which I have been devoted for the last 13 years. For that Canadian pop-rock group, it all came crumbling down in a matter of two weeks.

At first, anonymous allegations of sexual misconduct started appearing online. Then, an Ottawa woman came forward and accused Hedley's lead singer, Jacob Hoggard, of rape, and a Toronto woman subsequently recalled a similar experience with the singer in March 2013.

Hoggard denied that he had ever engaged in non-consensual sex, but admitted to behaving in ways that objectified women and apologized in an online statement. Faced with mounting pressure, the band eventually announced it would be taking an "indefinite hiatus" after the completion of its current tour, which is set to wrap up Friday.

Last week, Toronto police confirmed it had opened an investigation into claims against Hoggard.

As a long-faithful fan, how do you process that? Do you feel ashamed to have loved them for so long? Do you defend their actions? Do you pick a side? It's a lot. After being so involved with their music and forming a bond with other fans who you eventually come to see as your family, it's not something you can easily accept. So you don't.

Hedley has always been a band that pushes the limits. They've always had a reputation for being wild and, at times, slightly inappropriate. In terms of objectifying women: well, Hedley is paying a very high price for something that so many other bands and artists do. This type of behaviour was far more socially accepted in decades past, and was usually just chalked up to the "rock n' roll lifestyle," as cliche as that may sound.

So why are so many other bands carrying on with no backlash? Is this just luck of the draw? Poor timing? As a fan, these are the sorts of questions that start weighing on your mind.

In terms of allegations of rape: that is obviously an incredibly serious accusation. But right now, that's all it is: an accusation. Nevertheless, its effect has been to destroy the lives of members of the band, as well as the spirit of fans who have followed them throughout their entire careers.

I can't tell you how frustrating it has been to watch: to wake up every day to a new headline in the media, to news that they've lost an opening act, lost their management, lost their spot on the radio — it just didn't slow down. To say it's sad isn't enough: it's devastating.

Here is what I know. Hedley has given me the absolute best years of my life. I travelled across Canada to see them multiple times. I've gotten several tattoos in honour of them — tattoos that I still wear with pride. I've made some amazing lifelong friendships and I've been able to experience so many amazing things I never would have without Hedley. Their music has been the soundtrack to my soul. It's always been there, for as long as I can remember. I've grown with them and I owe a huge part of who I am as a person to them. It's impossible to throw that all away because of unproven allegations, as serious as they may be.

I refuse to regret any of it. I refuse to be ashamed for continuing to support my favourite band. I wouldn't change a single moment over the last 13 years. How can something that has always given me hope, courage, excitement, satisfaction and peace ever become something I'm ashamed of?

Their music has been a positive light in so many lives; it's been the one sure thing I could always depend on. And I know I'm not alone. Enjoying Hedley's music now does not make you a traitor to women; it means you are human, with your own personal history, who doesn't always see things as black and white.

Hedley's music made some of my darkest days seem a little brighter. This is how I'm choosing to remember Hedley. These allegations do not change the positive impact their music has had on me along with so many others. So I'm a Hedley fan, and I'm not apologizing for it.

Kate Graves is a tattooed, music enthusiast stay-at-home mom.

This column is part of CBC's Opinion section. For more information about this section, please read this editor's blog and our FAQ.

About the Author

Kate Graves

Kate Graves is a tattooed, music enthusiast stay-at-home mom.