Proud to Shine

Trans man performs Mumford & Sons duet with former voice for healing

Musician Victor Quinlan didn't realize the impact his music would have after performing a duet with his former voice. Quinlan identifies as a trans man.

'It was really lonely and painful,' musician Victor Quinlan recalls his transition

(Grant Galleries Photography)

Musician Victor Quinlan never thought he would get the response he has by covering a song.

The journey to finding himself started in university. Quinlan attended a transgender discussion and felt he could relate to what he was hearing. That was when he thought he might be transgender.

And after sitting with that thought for a year, he began his transition.

Music was always a part of Quinlan's life, with him learning to play guitar in grade school and starting to sing in high school. For him, music was a way to build confidence and connect with himself. 

But when he started transitioning, he broke his wrist and wasn't able to play music at all, he said.

Not only was Quinlan wasn't able to play guitar, as he transitioned, his voice changed.

"I pretty much lost the ability to sing. I barely had an octave range for a long time," he said. 

And without music in his life, he turned to drugs to get him through. It was a difficult time where he didn't have a lot of support.

"It was really lonely and painful," he said. "That year was probably the darkest in my life."

After graduating university, he worked on some self-healing with the aid of someone close to the church, and also connected with the LGBT community. 

"It think the reason that human beings suffer, a lot is because we feel lonely and isolated," Quinlan said, "So I think putting some effort into finding where the community is" would be helpful.

He found a virtual community to help him.

"They weren't physically there, but I could relate with the things they were saying and they did exist somewhere in the world." he said.

(Facebook/Victor Quinlan Music)

Eventually Quinlan began to play music more and learned how to sing with his new voice.

"Last year around Pride I decided that I wanted to do a live duet with an old recording of myself," he said.

He wasn't sure he could sing it or harmonize, but after some practice, he played a cover of 'Not with haste' by Mumford & Sons, a British band.

And every time he played the the song in the past year, Quinlan said people would give him a standing ovation and share their own stories with him.

"There were people who were older telling me about how they felt that they missed their opportunity to transition and they felt more free being able to see me living my truth," Quinlan said. "It was way more amazing than I ever imagined it would be."

He initially chose the song because he had some recording time and had to pick a song he knew. Little did he realize how much the lyrics would relate to his life years later.

Quinlan recited the lyrics, "We'll run and scream, you'll dance with me. We'll live our dreams and we'll be free. Then we'll be who we are and heal our scars and sadness will be far away."

About the Author

Stacey Janzer

Stacey Janzer was born and raised in Essex County. Self-described Canadian treasure. She currently works as a video journalist at CBC Windsor. Email her at Stacey.Janzer@cbc.ca.