I love a variety of music, but I especially like finding artists who are not necessarily out in the mainstream, who are in their niche for the joy of the art and not setting a goal of making millions.
Back in 2007, I found out about a then-Washington, D.C., musician named Tom Goss. He actually grew up in Kenosha, Wisconsin, wrestled in high school and even considered becoming a priest. However, the religious views regarding homosexuality clashed with his own feelings, and he left the seminary and eventually became a musician.
I first found out about Tom’s music when I got a message on my MySpace page from him (Yes, the old MySpace days, before Facebook became the “it” social media). Once I listened to some of his songs, I was hooked and have been following him ever since. He’s come out with some amazing songs, including one that addressed gay soldiers serving in silence when “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was in effect, as well as one called “Bears,” where Tom indicates he is not into stereotypical skinny gay guys and prefers men with a little fur and bulk. That last one particularly resonates with me, considering who my sweetheart is.
While Tom’s songs are great, many of his videos are even better. The aforementioned “Bears” showcased a frenzied escape from a speed dating nightmare with skinny twerps in order to pursue a hefty stud. There is another one where he lies naked, aside from a strategically placed clock, while artists paint all kinds of beautiful designs on his body. His most powerful video to date once again addressed the dilemma of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” when a soldier was killed in a war zone, and his lover was back home, knowing something was wrong but unable to get answers because, in the military’s eyes, he didn’t exist as the soldier’s spouse.
Today, Tom released an equally powerful video with a cover of the classic song “Son of a Preacher Man.” He released the song itself last week, and I had some trepidation. While Tom does excellent work, I’ve known from experience that remakes of popular songs have a disproportionate tendency to ruin the original song rather than make it better. Fortunately, my fears were unfounded, and I was eager to see the video when it came out.
The video starts out in a small-town church with the preacher discussing sin and delving into why homosexuality is perceived as a sin. During the sermon, the preacher’s son looks back and smiles at another teenage boy. The song launches with the church folk gathering at a home for a barbecue after services, and the two boys slip away to explore the countryside, lay in the grass, laugh, the sorts of things most folks do in the initial stages of pursuing each other. Eventually, they return to the church and are about to kiss.
That’s when all hell breaks loose (Yes, I used that line).
The preacher catches them in the act and proceeds to inform his wife and the other boys’ parents. Things get pretty hairy for a minute or two, including one scene with a rope that indicated Tom might be bucking the trend of happy endings and might finish the video with a tragic suicide, but he twists the plot one more time and instead shows the two boys reuniting at the church and running off into the light of day.
While many of Tom’s videos resonate with me, “Son of a Preacher Man” really hits home with the issues of growing up gay in a small community. I love my hometown of Chino Valley dearly, but I was terrified to admit my sexuality because most of the couples I saw in school were a guy and a girl. It wasn’t until my 20s when I was able to feel comfortable enough to come out to people. This was in the 1990s, when gay and lesbian relationships were considered bizarre and abnormal. Same-sex marriage wasn’t even discussed.
Obviously, the winds have changed in 20-plus years, with same-sex relationships much more in the public eye, but there are still plenty of people, young and old, who are afraid to come clean about their sexuality due to the backlash in their inner circles. It takes videos like the one Tom dropped today to give people the hope that it is okay to love the people you love. I think Tom really hit it out of the park this time, taking a classic that wasn’t his own and turning it into a beautiful message of love and acceptance.
“Son of a Preacher Man” is below, if you want to see for yourself. The video only left me with one question—did the boys move in together and adopt a dog?