Is Steve Grand the First Openly Gay Male Country Singer?
Days after rising country singer Steve Grand uploaded the music video for his single "All-American Boy" (just in time for Independence Day!) the Internet is all a buzz, labeling the musician as the first openly gay country singer.
The singer, who hails from Chicago, made media headlines this week, with BuzzFeed and other sites dubbing Grand as the first openly gay male country singer. On July 2 he released the video on his Facebook page with the message, "after all these years...this is my song. My story. My dream.
"time to be brave. the world does not see change until it sees honesty. I am taking a risk here in many ways, but really there is no choice but to be brave," he writes. "To not tell this story is to let my soul die. It is all I believe in. It is all I hold dear. We have all longed for someone we can never have... we all have felt that ache for our #allamericanboy
"first original song and music video," he continues. "I gave everything for this. If my story makes even a couple people feel less alone in their aching, all the blood, sweat, tears, and soul I put into this project makes it worth it. Thanks for watching."
The video follows Grand’s character who is seen checking out a wholesome and handsome -- yup, you guessed it-- all-American guy. After sharing a bottle of whiskey, spending some intimate time together, taking of his shirt and skinny dipping, it’s clear, Grand’s character has a bad case of puppy love. The clips shows Grand and the dude finally kissing in a lake but Grand’s all-American boy just wants to be friends.
"It turns out to be a sad story of unrequited gay-straight attraction, but Steve’s story touched a nerve among viewers so far," BuzzFeed writes.
The video has apparently struck a chord with music fans around the web (just check out this Twitter search for "Steve Grand"), and Grand took to his Facebook on Wednesday, writing, "#allamericanboy guys I am so overwhelmed right now I don’t even know what to say... reading your comments and messages about how this song/video has brought back memories or tugged at something inside of you has moved me deeply.
I’m doing my best to respond to as many as I can. Forgive me if I am late or miss over something since I am going at this alone," he writes. "Keep sharing the video if you are inspired. Lets let our story be known by the whole world! and keep hashtagging #allamericanboy !!! I cannot thank you enough for supporting me... I’ve dreamed about this all of my life."
Fought who he was
As of this writing, the video for "All-American Boy" has nearly 220,000 views, with more than 8,000 "likes." Grand’s Facebook page has almost 15,000 "likes." According to the singer’s "about" section, he is not currently signed to a label and does not have a manager - though, that will probably change very soon.
"I fought with who I was for most of my life. In every way a young person can fight with himself. But starting today... I’m laying it out there. I’m done playing it safe," his Facebook description reads.
"I don’t have a manager or a label or any sort of funding other than the tip money I make playing piano downtown at The Joynt, and also, ironically to some, in the churches on Sunday morning... (we’ll see how long I’ll be singing "Glory to God" should this video see the light of day)."
He goes on to say that he wrote the song "during a drunken piano jam session at a party. I recorded the vocals in my parents basement." Grand adds, "I feel like music industry people wouldn’t like the idea of me ’pigeonholing’ myself by telling this story as I have. But I don’t believe the world sees change until it sees honesty."
Is Grand the Next Ocean?
What makes Grand’s sudden success so interesting is that country music is a genre often associated with conservatism and fans who probably aren’t found marching at their town’s Gay Pride parade. But as Billboard reports in a June 8, 2011 article, new statistics about country music fans show there may be new demographic for the genre, signaling a shift in fans’ views.
Grand’s "coming out" mirrors that of Frank Ocean, the R&B superstar who rose to fame last year after he announced on his Tumblr that he was once in love with a man, just before his critically acclaimed debut record "Channel Orange" dropped. The R&B and rap world have been often criticized for their anti-gay lyrics and negative views on the LGBT community. Nevertheless, since Ocean’s coming out, there has been a sea change as several rappers, producers, fans and musicians lauded Ocean’s revelation.
Grand isn’t the only out country singer, however. There are a handful of out female country singers, including k.d. lang, Chely Wright and Melissa Etheridge.
Watch the music video for "All-American Boy" below: