From a young age, Hains rejected traditional notions of masculinity and femininity. He dated men and women, wore his hair long and embraced a playful sense of style, ranging from jeans and baseball caps to mesh body shirts and dramatic eyeshadow.
“He never understood why people made these social constructs and then judged you on them,” says Badler, who selected an outfit that captures Hains’ striking aesthetic for the photo accompanying this story. “He created a body of work that will live on and will hopefully change people’s perceptions of what it’s like to feel different.”
Hains’ character, Antiboy, Badler explains, is a genderless android who lives in a prejudice-free utopia but keeps returning to the present to fix a troubled romantic relationship. “Harry was tormented by love,” she says. “He became frightened if the person he loved didn’t react in a certain way and that’s what Good Enough and the whole album is about – never being able to have what you truly desire.”
When Hains was a boy, he created a fantasy world called Harry-Land, complete with its own currency and language. (Solving a riddle was the price of admission for his older brother, Sam.) He brushed off taunts from his peers at an exclusive Melbourne secondary school, moving to the UK and then the US as an adult to pursue singing, modelling and acting, appearing in popular TV programs such as The OA and American Horror Story.
A severe form of insomnia, which he developed at a young age, prompted him to seek relief through drugs, exacerbating his struggle with mental illness. On January 7, Hains died of an accidental fentanyl overdose in Los Angeles, making news in the US, UK and Australia.
“Nobody asks for their child to have multiple sclerosis or leukemia, and addiction needs to be thought of in the same way,” Badler says. “It’s a brain disease and there should not be a stigma around it.”
When Badler was 18, she lost her father and brother in a light plane crash. “I never looked at the bigger picture of the world in my 20s because I was just trying to get through it,” she says. “But now, it’s hard not to look at that bigger picture.”
The grief, of course, will always be there. But the numbness Badler felt in the aftermath of Hains’ death has slowly diminished, making way for a sense of purpose.
“I want to show others that even after a great loss, you can find meaning and live a life that’s beautiful,” she says. “Harry was a visionary and we feel a responsibility to get his art out into the world.”
Good Enough is available on Spotify, Apple Music and other streaming platforms.
Michael Lallo is a senior culture writer at The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.