Picture this- an unknown singer from Chicago, only 23 years old, without a label, no artist representation, and not much cash flow, maxes out his credit cards to produce a smash hit country love song that goes viral on YouTube. It’s the American dream come true. What’s the catch? The love song is about a boy crushing on ANOTHER BOY! Gasp!
Grand’s song, All American Boy, posted on July 2 and already has over one million views on YouTube. He’s captured the attention of ABC, Huffington Post, and the Daily Beast, to name a few. Some of the freak out can be attributed to Buzzfeed, who asserted that Steve Grand is the first openly gay country star; however, Slate has already reminded us that Chely Wright came out as a lesbian in 2010.
Regardless of whether Grand gets crowned as the first, he’s certainly starting out strong. His story is inspiring- he told ABC that after coming out to his parents he was sent to ‘straight’ therapy. His Facebook posts reveal the angst he felt as he got ready to post the video. He shares a lot in an interview on the Backlot, including being overwhelmed by the response to the video.
I can’t imagine that Grand won’t be picked up by a recording studio in approximately two minutes, but I imagine that in the mean time he could use some support. (While the video has over 31,000 ‘likes’, it also has over 300 ‘dislikes’.) His website includes a button on how to contribute to his artistic talents.
This video, and Grand’s story, would be a fabulous teaching tool. The ‘classic’ crush storyline being turned on its head can help normalize same sex attraction. Sexuality educators can have participants reflect on the challenges that the lead character in the video might face, strategies for expressing attraction to another boy, and how he might feel when he’s turned down. (Note that there is a scene in the video where you can see two boys kiss and a naked butt, so if that’s a problem, stick with the still shots & the lyrics.)
All American Boy represents a bold move by a brave young man. He didn’t let fear stop him from expressing himself, and I hope he’s seen as a role model for living out his dream.