Halsey may be a Grammy-nominated singer now, but the star’s rise to fame was no easy feat.
The “Without Me” singer, 24, got candid on Saturday about the years she spent living as a homeless teen in New York City, and revealed she once considered having sex for money in order to put food on the table.
“When I was living in New York, I was a teenager. My friends were picking out decorations for their dorms, and I was debating on whether or not I should let a stranger inside me so I could pay for my next meal,” Halsey said, while being honored at Ending Youth Homelessness: A Benefit For My Friend’s Place in Hollywood.
“It wasn’t because I did something bad, it wasn’t because something was wrong with me, and it wasn’t because my parents didn’t love me, ‘cause they did, very much,” she added, citing a “series of unfortunate circumstances” as the reason she ended up in her position.
During the singer’s speech, she also recalled the moment she secured her first record deal, and had to tell a label employee she was living out of a bag.
“I had one demo in my pocket, and I was carrying a gray duffel bag. Sat down in his cubicle at the time. And he asked me, ‘What’s in the bag?’ And I looked at him dead in the eyes and I said, ‘This is my house,’” Halsey told the crowd.
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The singer told Rolling Stone in 2016 that she was kicked out by her parents after dropping out of community college, and was left with no phone service or health insurance.
“They just didn’t agree with a lot of things about me,” she said. “I remember one time I had $9 in my bank account and bought a four-pack of Red Bull and used it to stay up overnight over the course of two or three days because it was less dangerous to not sleep than it was to sleep somewhere random and maybe get raped or kidnapped.”
Halsey also told Vulture in 2017 that she would occasionally stay at homeless shelters in New York.
Since hitting it big in the music world, Halsey has continued to advocate for homeless youth services, including during a video played at the 2018 GLAAD Media Awards in May.
“It’s estimated that up to 40 percent of homeless youth are minors who are part of the LGBT community,” she said.
“Many of them have been ostracized from their families and from their communities because of people who don’t agree with their lifestyle. This means that they have a harder time getting access to health care, to legal services, to education, to mental health services, which makes it all the more difficult for them,” Halsey added.