Here’s an edited version of a letter I sent to Steve Grand a few days after his song “All-American Boy” exploded on YouTube. In case you’ve been living under a rock, don’t listen to country music (I’ll concede I don’t really listen to much country these days), or are homophobic (in which case, you can leave now), this is Steve Grand:
I grew up on country music in a small town in Indiana, where I constantly felt shame and fear and confusion about who and what I was. The older I got, the more I branched out into other music genres. Today, my iTunes collection runs the gamut from Glee songs to country to rock to pop and almost everything in between.
I steer clear of hip-hop because I don’t care for it in general, although I did recently feel compelled to buy Macklemore’s “Same Love.” You know…for the obvious reason.
It’s the same reason that when my girlfriend of three and a half years broke up with me during my junior year of college, I spent most nights after class scouring YouTube for something to make me feel real, not to mention wanted. I’m going to talk about TV now, because it became my passion in college, but I’ll bring this back around to music in the end.
I bought “Same Love” for the same reason I found and fell in love with the Oliver Sabel & Christian Mann storyline (often called “Chrollie” on YouTube) on the German show whose title translates to Forbidden Love.
I found Luke & Noah (“Nuke”) on As the World Turns (which was terrible but made me feel normal) and Ste & Brendan (“Stendan”) on Hollyoaks and Deniz & Roman (“DeRo”) on a German show whose title translates to All That Matters.
Over a period of several years, I found so many other gay relationships through TV that I’ve lost count. I found out who I was, and become okay with that, by watching TV, and I started coming out of the closet at age 22. Usually it was foreign countries that were getting it right as far as quality, but I’ll concede that America has had some good gay storylines in recent years.
I bought “Same Love” for the same reason that when Once Upon a Time premiered on ABC almost two years ago, I fell in love with Prince Charming right away. Who wouldn’t (well, besides a straight guy or a lesbian)? I actually wrote an essay about that.
I’m so sorry. I’m burying the lead here, aren’t I? Here we go—out with it:
I’m a gay 27-year-old hopeful television writer from the Midwest with roots in country music—indeed, much of my family sings and/or plays an instrument, and my dad and other family members actually got to sing with Alison Krauss when she was a teenager [if I remember correctly], before she was famous—and although I’ve been in a healthy relationship with a guy for three years now and have been following all the news about equality and doing what I can to help out these last few years, it still took me this long to realize that there’s never been a video like “All-American Boy” in country music.
I got butterflies watching it, at age 27, on the 4th of July. Truthfully, I didn’t even know what it was at first, didn’t even realize it was a music video until I saw the first shot of you singing onscreen, because I was so engrossed in the visual story itself. It’s a beautiful, sad, honest, very real story, and the music goes with it like bread goes with butter.
If “All-American Boy” had existed when I was a kid, I might have figured a lot of things out a lot earlier than I did. I might not have felt quite so ashamed and afraid of who I was. I’d wager you went through the same thing, and that’s why you did what you did.
And I’m glad you did. It took so much courage, but now it’s done, and I and thousands of others want you to keep doing it. That’s why I [paid money] for the songs.
I want you to keep doing what you’ve done so well here, so the next generation of Midwestern kids with stars in their eyes has someone to look up to in this brand new category of role models. A lot of the other categories are covered now, so why not country music?
For me, now I’ve got Ryan Murphy, a gay Indiana native who has risen to be one of the most respected and accomplished writer-producer-directors in Hollywood. If I’d had you around as a kid—who knows? Maybe I would have had the courage to sing (with my family or otherwise).
I’m in awe of you. I missed my chance to become the kind of person who can lay it all on the line in a “live” performance of some kind (i.e., singing, acting, etc.), and now I’ve moved on to writing. Even still, thank you for giving me something I never had as a kid.
Editor of educational content
Author of Life on Other Moons, a collection of short fiction written and self-published in completion of an MFA in Creative Writing and Publishing Arts
Hopeful script writer
Gay singer in another life
Other Entries You Might Enjoy
‘Star Trek: Phase II’ Features Gay Storyline and AIDS Metaphor
Somebody That I Used to Know
The Object of My Prepositions: A Search for Prince Charming
Squirmy Change and Gay Sharing
Queerness Is Multiplied