I’m always interested in supporting artistic endeavors that shed a light on what gay people are all about, especially when those artists are just starting out. It’s always a risk to put yourself out there for potentially the whole world to see.
Last week, one of shining points of rainbow light took a chance and broadcast his debut song and music video “All-American Boy” on YouTube. Meet Steve Grand, a Chicago man with a love of music and a dream. He maxed out a credit card to make the video, as he does not have a manager or a professional video crew to create such a compelling tale. It was a gamble, to say the least.
The gamble appears to have paid off.
The video weaves a tale about a young gay man who has a crush on a friend, who is straight, and is shattered to find out his feelings are not returned following a kiss in a creek (where the two were skinny dipping).
The video made me feel really happy in the beginning, but sad near the end. Grabbing someone by their emotional core is a sure sign that you’re a good artist. Apparently, tens of thousands of other people agree, if the likes on Grand’s Facebook page are any indication.
It was definitely more than the openly gay country singer expected, too. Here’s an excerpt of what he had to say on Facebook earlier today:
“The rising hits on the video and the fact that I’m getting all this press is great, but really, for me, it comes down to you guys: those of you who have been deeply moved by my song/story. The fact that I have had such an effect on you that you have taken the time to write to me and tell me your stories… That is all I ever wanted… to have my story resonate with people. For the first time in my life, truly, I feel like I don’t have to be ashamed of myself anymore.
“For a long time I have felt like a failure. Without money, or a college degree, or a steady job, and frequently having to couch hop because I couldn’t afford my apartment in the city anymore. I felt so ashamed when people would ask me, ‘So what are you doing with your life,’ and I would tell them about how I’m writing music knowing that, in their minds, they were just rolling their eyes.”
Somehow, I doubt they’re rolling their eyes now. His words and video are not something you hear every day in the country music scene — a man talking about the beauty of another man and how much he loves him. Country music, when it talks about relationships, tells stories of men infatuated with women and women desiring men. He took a brave step forward by putting his heart and his true self on display. Many gay men are still afraid to do that.
Not everyone feels that way, though. I read a rather scathing critique from a writer whose biography describes him as a supporter of gay causes. From what I read of his impression of Steve Grand, I think the writer, Mark S. King might want to take a refresher course on being supportive of the gay community.
Here’s an excerpt from his column on LGBTQ Nation, “Gay country singer’s video portrays gay men as sad, predatory drunks”:
“Gay men drink too much, feel sorry for themselves, and come on to straight dudes when their girlfriends aren’t around: that’s the message from the music video of newly-minted gay country singer Steve Grand.
“And gay media is too busy fawning over the young stud to notice.
“Maybe Grand figures that his fellow gays will be too distracted by the video’s lascivious preoccupation with his pouty lips and sculpted abs to notice that, as portrayed here, he is one false move away from some serious gay bashing.”
Wow. Bitter much?
Now, I don’t necessarily think we have to fake enthusiasm for people’s pursuits, but it seems like King is going out of his way to turn Grand into the gay community’s worst nightmare. He writes that Grand should have made the video with two gay protagonists instead of one gay and one straight. Apparently King believes no gay man has never tried to kiss a straight man or ask him out.
King’s opinion piece gives the impression that straight guys in the real world will beat the stuffing out of any gay guy who hits on them. That kind of worldview can cause division as easily as any Bible-thumper that claims all homosexuals are deviants and taking the expressway to hell.
The gay community will never be taken seriously until it can offer solid support of its brethren and their efforts to pursue their dreams and express their creativity. While I don’t plan to buy every book by a gay author or download every song by a gay musician, Steve Grand has some real talent, and I like his initial effort in country music, a style of music that I genuinely love. I hope he doesn’t let acidic souls like Mark King stomp on his dreams. If the positive comments I’ve read so far are any indication, I doubt there’s any real danger of that.