Showing posts with label Gay Musician. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gay Musician. Show all posts

July 5, 2020

Celebrate This Weekend With RIVIN- "I'll Never Say Sorry"


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Once was a soul that knew no fault, all it began when I came to this world, everything felt so beautiful, angels they told me I wasn’t a fool, Then the winters went by, and I didn’t know why, why I had to be shy, would I have to deny. Were my angels still there, what you want me to say, that I’m wrong being this way, what you want me to say. Sorry, sorry, I’ll never say sorry, forget I say sorry. Sorry, sorry, I’ll never say sorry, cause this is my story. That was a time I simplified, there was no difference between you and I. Then the summers went by, all those fears were a lie life had taught me that I have no reasons to cry. Yes my angels are there, and they want me to say, there is no fucking way, that I am gonna say. Sorry, sorry, I’ll never say sorry, forget I say sorry. Sorry, sorry, I’ll never say sorry, cause this is my story. Sorry, sorry, I left all my worries, I’ll never say sorry.


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December 5, 2019

Chris Martin Talks About His Struggles Fighting The Idea He Might Be Gay


Coldplay's Chris Martin is being frank about his childhood struggles.
In an interview with Rolling Stone published on Tuesday, Martin shared he went through a rough time as a teen because he didn't fit in with the boys at his boarding school.
"I don't know, I was just going through some stuff with religion and sexuality and everything … like most kids at that age," Coldplay's frontman said.
In explaining his relationship with religion, Martin revealed he struggled with his sexuality for a bit when he was younger.
"When I went to boarding school, I walked a bit funny and I bounced a bit and I was also very homophobic because I was like, 'If I’m gay, I’m completely (expletive) for eternity,' and I was a kid like discovering sexuality," Martin said. "I was terrified." The Grammy-winning artist recalled that his classmates would tell him with the conviction that he was gay.
"I was in a boarding school with a bunch of quite hardcore kids who were also gone for their thing and, for a few years, they would very much say, 'You’re definitely gay,' in quite a full-on manner, quite aggressively telling me that and it was weird for me for a few years," Martin said.
Chris Martin shares his struggle with his sexuality as a young teen.
Martin added when he was younger he didn't know if he was gay and thought that even if he was, he thought it was wrong.
"I don't know and even if I am, I can't be because it's wrong," Martin said he thought at the time, adding he started to worry about being gay.
He said there came a time where he stopped worrying about being gay, which he attributed to gaining more exposure to the world and recognizing that some of his heroes are gay. 
"About 15 and a half, I don't know what happened, I was like, 'Yeah, so what?' and then it all just stopped overnight. It was very interesting," Martin said. "So what that did was ease a big pressure and then made me question, like 'Hey maybe some of this stuff that I’m learning about God and everything' … I'm not sure if I subscribe to all of this particular religion."
 Martin was married to Gwyneth Paltrow for 10 years before the two divorced in 2016. They share two kids together, daughter Apple, 15, and son Moses, 13.

December 11, 2018

Brandon Stansell Talks About Being Gay in Country Also His Official Music Video

                                            Image result for Brandon Stansell 
Brandon Stansell is redefining the genre one music soulful song at a time.

“I think that people, especially in the south, who listen to country music are more open and loving than we give them credit to be,” says the doe-eyed 31-year-old. “We just have to give them the opportunity to show us.”
Twangy and reflective, the Nashville native’s new music video for "Hometown" starts on a note familiar to many LGBTQ folks; a parent’s emotional reaction to his coming out. Stansell stands tearfully in a doorway while his mother yells angrily into a phone, “I don’t want my son to be called queer, I don’t want him to be queer. I think the whole thing is an abomination.”  
She can’t even look at Stansell in the eye as she mutters, “You want to go out there and make us ashamed of who you are, that’s a choice,” seconds before kicking him out of the house. The scene is heartbreakingly familiar for many queer people. While only 10 percent of young people in the United States identify as LGBTQ, they account for 40 percent of homeless youth.
The video's premiere was a bit of a monumental moment: it debuted on CMT last month, bringing a queer storyline to the network's country music fans. Billboard chatted with Stansell about the groundbreaking music video, his own coming out and navigating the country music scene as an openly gay artist.
Why was this story important for you to tell?
I think that visibility is important, especially in country music. I think that everyone wants to hear their story told. I think that’s a commonality we share. For the longest time, people who are LGBTQ and lovers of country music, we didn’t really hear our stories on country radio or played on CMT. It was really important for me to share my story in the most authentic, real way I possibly could.
Have you faced any challenges in the country music scene?
I thought there would be initially, that I would be met with a little more resistance. But honestly, ever since I started walking down this road and pursuing country music, I’ve really had nothing but good things said to me and about me with what I’m doing. I had a similar conversation with Cody Allen, who hosts the CMT radio show. He came out a few years ago but he’s established a career for himself. Even he was saying he was really surprised at how wonderful his fellow artists were and how loving the fans were to him and how wonderful his bosses at CMT were. I think that people, especially in the south who listen to country music, are more open and loving that we give them credit to be. We just have to give them the opportunity to show us. 
In the first minute or so of the music video, we see your mom reacting quite negatively to your coming out. Did you draw on real-life experiences for that moment?
I kinda talk about the video as being a representation of my own story. That first scene is kind of a boiled down version of every action and reaction I’ve ever had with any of my family members. It was just a way to tell it in the most clear, concise, and complete way in a minute if we possibly could. It’s something most people could relate to. As a gay man, that relationship with my mother and seeing that break is the thing people relate to with the coming out experience. I had a lot of similarities and my own experience. They ring true whether it was my mother or my sister or my father. We kind of piled them all into that one moment as the representation of the full thing that happened.
It’s been interesting over the past month to see how many people see themselves in that moment. It’s not about the situation, it’s about those things being said and those feelings that you have. Wherever you were or whatever the circumstance, those are universal feelings. That's what we wanted to tap into. That raw feeling of devastation. When you see this support system that you have known and come to expect your entire life, your family, evaporate in a moment when you decide to be honest about who you are. By some miracle, we were able to capture that in about 40 seconds and it’s resonating with people.  
How have fans reacted to the video? What do you hope your video does for viewers?
The responses have varied across the board. My hope with the video was that it would engender conversations between the LGBTQ community and the straight community. For my community, it would help people not feel alone. When I was a kid watching CMT, I never would’ve expected to see a video like that. If I had, I wouldn’t have felt in the silo that I felt like I was living in for so long. For straight people, I think the moment they get a peek into what these situations are like and how life-changing they can be, to decide “you know what, my gay brother, sister, son, daughter, I don’t want that to happen to them." That’s the beginning of breaking the cycle of this heartless and senseless hurting of one another just for being LGBTQ.
A fan sent your video to his mother and they had a very moving conversation via text. How does it feel for your art to be moving people in that way?  
When I saw that exchange with this guy and his mother, and them both watching the video independently of each other, and the mother seeing this thing and saying “let’s start again,” kind of looking for a refresh and restart, and for the son, getting that apology that he never thought he would get. Hey, I know how you feel! That’s important. It’s very easy in families to think that the apology step is not needed but it’s so needed for healing. That one interaction made this whole thing worth it, all the work, all the time we put into this. That one thing made it worth it.
Watch Stanell's "Hometown" music video below.

August 7, 2018

Singer Bobby Jo Valentine Balances His Gay Identity and Religion

By Gregg Shapiro

Queer singer/songwriter Bobby Jo Valentine is that rare out artist who isn’t shy about his faith. 
Raised in the church, Valentine has found a way to make those two sometimes-conflicting aspects of his life work in harmony. For instance, the live-performance schedule on his website includes dates at both Pride festivals and churches. Talk about versatility! One thing’s for sure: chances are good that you will hear Valentine singing songs from his luminous new album Maybe Stars. I had the pleasure of interviewing Valentine about his music, and more, in early July 2018.
Gregg Shapiro: When did you begin playing guitar, and how soon after that did you begin to write songs?Bobby Joe Valentine: I got a guitar right before I left for college. The school was a very strict, conservative, religious place. I really wanted something that I could express myself with, and explore my own thoughts and opinions and poetry. I wrote some while I was in college, but just off and on. It wasn’t until I was around 23 that I really started pursuing writing and making it a big piece of my life.
Which presented more challenges for you, coming out as a gay man or coming out as a gay Christian?
Wow, great question. Coming out as a gay man, in the culture I was in, was extremely difficult, but I’d met a wonderful man who really helped support me through it. We were together for over seven years. As far as my faith goes, I feel it’s a thing I’m constantly learning and discovering new things about, so it’s always hard for me to want to label it. I’d describe myself as a hopeful, Jesus-leaning, poetic mystic. [laughs] Jesus was about love, about peace, about fighting powers that used fear to control people, about healing. A lot of the people who use his name do the opposite of that now. The word “Christian” has so much baggage now, and it’s frustrating that the negative side always gets the headlines. The truth is, there are faith communities in most towns around the country that love, support, and are excited to accept gay people. But the unaccepting faith communities are what make the news. So a lot of gay people cut spirituality out of their lives altogether in response, and that’s such a sad result. Our soul is a big piece of who we are. I hope we get permission to explore it and stop stigmatizing faith because of the bad examples. Instead, we should be pointing to people who are using their faith to create a more loving world and expanding what faith can be. I hope my songs’ universal themes and messages about love, acceptance, and hope can offer some examples of that.
As a creative artist, what do accolades such as winning Songwriter of the Year at West Coast Songwriters in 2011 and 2015, and then Song of the Year in 2017, mean to you?
I think they gave me a little extra strength to keep going in moments of self-doubt. The awards didn’t come with any huge cash prize or exposure to a giant fan base, but what they did was help me realize that my music was connecting with people and was worth sharing. That’s important when you constantly find yourself swimming in a giant sea of music and musicians, wondering if what you say has any worth. It’s like a little extra hope you’re able to lean on in the harder times. 
“The word ‘Christian’ has so much baggage now, and it’s frustrating that the negative side always gets the headlines.”

Bobby Jo Valentine
“Strong Enough” is one of the most universal and powerful songs on Maybe Stars, with a message that is especially meaningful during these increasingly difficult times. Please say something about the genesis of the song.

Thank you! Well, I grew up in a small school where anyone who was different was an easy target for bullying. And I was usually the different one. I liked reading, I was a bit more thoughtful and introverted, I wasn’t super-interested in sports or the latest trends, and it wasn’t a big enough place where I could be seen as “cool” or “counterculture.” Being different was just made fun of. And while the physical pranks are things I can laugh at now, a lot of the words still stick with me, and took a lot longer to heal. “Strong Enough” is about internal wounds, and how it’s a lot harder to break free from a negative idea you’ve been attacked with than it is for your body to heal from a scratch or bruise. In the gay culture, many of us can act like everything bounces off us, and that attitude is usually a shield built up from past wounds. This song was just me being honest about the power that words can have over us, but also about finding our “true name.” Once we know who we truly are, and our value in the world, then those words do lose some of their power.
“Bones” is another incredibly moving song from Maybe Stars. What can you tell me about it?Oh man, that’s a song that still gets me, and can be hard to sing. It’s just about our own tendency to self-sabotage our lives. When I look back on my life with some emotional honesty, I have to admit that a lot of my pain has been self-inflicted. This song is just admitting that to the world. I’ve found, performing it, that once it’s out there, a lot of people identify with that, and then they feel less alone. Sometimes a song is building community around shared experience. In this song, that experience is pain. But there’s a beauty in admitting that, and that’s what the song is trying to express.
Lesbian singer/songwriter Margrit Eichler, of the band True Margrit, produced the song “Back to the Moon.” How did you two come to work together?Margrit was recommended to me by another fantastic artist, Kress Cole. We recorded that song in a day, I think. The guitar and vocal is from the very first take. The process was super-smooth, and Margrit is a joy to work with.
You spent much of June 2018 on a concert tour. What are the challenges and rewards of performing live and touring?
The biggest challenge, I’d say, is the travel. Being away from home really wears on you. The rewards are meeting new people and experiencing them connecting to your music, and also seeing familiar faces in the crowd smiling up at you and singing your songs back to you. The people are the best part. The planes, rental cars, and long drives are another story. You have to learn to stay centered, and that’s no easy task when you’re in a different location every day.
How would you say that crowdfunding, via Patreon, for instance, has worked for you when it comes to financing your recordings?
Fans have been the number-one reason why I’ve been able to continue this creative work and do it professionally, and the crowdfunding is such a benefit. With the help of Patreon and other crowdfunding resources, I’m able to spend less time on the business side of music and more time on the creative side. It’s incredibly valuable to me!
I was sorry to hear about your home burning in the California fires. I understand that a Houstonian who sponsored you for some house concerts set up a GoFundMe page for you that raised over $20,000. What does such an expression of generosity mean to you?Thank you. It’s been extremely difficult, and I’d say the thing that kept me from losing heart, after losing everything else, has been the unexpected amount of love from everyone around me. 
You shared a Mary Oliver poem on your Facebook page in June 2018. Can you please say something about the role that contemporary poetry plays in your life?
I read poetry every morning and take it like vitamins. To me, poetry, like any good song, has the ability to come in through the side door of our hearts and minds, and move us more powerfully than anything else can. Mary Oliver’s “The Journey,” in particular, is one of the poems that completely changed my life. I’d recommend [that poem], and poetry in general, [to everyone who] wants a more open heart and a sweeter spirit.
This article appears in the August 2018 edition of OutSmart magazine.

Gregg Shapiro

Gregg Shapiro is a regular contributor to OutSmart Magazine 

July 1, 2018

Black Gay Disco Music Still with Us and So Is SYLVESTER "I can Hear him as I type now"

Black queer artists like Ma Rainey, James Baldwin, Nina Simone, Lorraine Hansberry, and Essex Hemphill have all made it a bit easier for me to dream. I was born in a perfect era as a feminine black gay man interested in being apart of pop culture and music to have a fighting chance of making a living off of that desire. The dreams I’m dreaming are large, but tangible. They are made possible because of the legacies black gay artists before me have left. However, there is no black gay artist that opened up my imagination about who I can be while affirming who I am like disco icon—often referred to as The Queen of Disco—Sylvester.
Sylvester performed as a drag artist early in his career and covered blues classics by Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday. He was known on underground drag circuits as the queen with the beautiful, soulful voice able to mimic the jazz and blues legends of the past. In the late 1970s he became a sensation with “Do You Want to Funk” and “Dance (Disco Heat),” which turned the world into a discotech and every discotech into a pulpit. His background singers Izora Armstead and Martha Wash would later get their own fame as disco sensation, The Weather Girls (1982’s “It’s Raining Men”) in their own right. But for a moment in time, they spread their glitter-riddled gospel all over the world.
I saw Sylvester for the first time in his music video for “Mighty Real (You Make Me Feel)” and I was astonished: a brown black man adorned in flamboyant, Studio 54-ready garb making love to the camera. Sylvester looked like a fantasy, but he insisted he was real—mighty real. He was not a clever sidekick or an odd spectacle for the straight gaze. He was the focal point of the video. He was the star. In that moment, a dream was born inside of me that allowed me to imagine myself as a star too. 
Sylvester had one of those powerhouse voices that is becoming more and more rare to hear in mainstream music today. It was the voice birthed in black church, and raised by R&B and rock ‘n roll. It’s a voice like Patti Labelle, Rick James, Luther Vandross, or Chaka Khan. It’s reckless, but in control. There’s a gospel and sensual quality to how these vocalists attack a song. They sang high notes, wore sequins, and changed lives.
I was at the awkward age of 13 in middle school and I was being bullied for liking weird things and having feminine mannerisms. I was sure that if I cried in front of all of my peers, my eyes would cry pink and glitter and everyone would finally know with certainty my big queer secret. I just had to make it home. When I finally did and closed the door to my room, I played my mother’s Sylvester vinyl that had “Body Strong” on it. I listened to the song as I cried. As I sobbed, I looked at Sylvester’s album covers: this glamorous, androgynous black man with dark skin beaming with joy on some covers and on others he possessed an eloquent stoicism. In my dark room, I began to dance and weep, which I now find to be the queerest practice ever. Black queer life is often this constant exercise of finding jubilation and camp in the face of tragedy and melancholy. Our protests are often mistaken for parades. 
In a culture that often deems the feminine black gay man as the humorous sidekick to the main character or the assistant (a hairdresser, make-up artist, or wardrobe stylist) to the superstar or diva, Sylvester offered the idea that that the black femme queer folks don’t just create the cool culture or assist in cultural phenomenons—we can be at the epicenter of it all. As Sylvester once sang on the lush groove “Stars,” “You are a star. Everybody is one.” 
In 2018, we’ve arrived at the beginning black queer cultural reckoning of sorts. With artists like Mykki Blanco, serpentwithfeet, Nakhane Touré, Abdu Ali, and Fusilier creating their own universes in music and pushing the aesthetic expectation of black forward, it’s imperative we remember artists like Sylvester who broke ceilings so we can declare the sky as the limit. An artist that was one of the first to boldly declare their gender and sexual identity, as well as claim the spotlight and microphone. 
Remembering Sylvester should also include remembering how he left us and what was done to his legacy. Sylvester died in debt in the winter of 1988 due to complications from AIDS. Many of our cherished black artists die penniless and often leave the public memory, but just like Sylvester suggested and deemed us all stars. Artists and lovers of art that have benefited from his legacy, can and must remember to honor him and remind the world he is a star. That he has influenced a new generation of artists to be themselves, push cultural boundaries, and knowing that artistic excellent is often an odd thing. Which means it is okay to stick out and make people uncomfortable.  
I often dream about what Sylvester might think about the world we live in today. How would he feel about Pose on television? How would he feel about the rising of so many black queer artists working of the camera (or microphone) and behind the scenes? How he’d feel that he birthed a generation black gay men like me that dream dreams that are big and ambitious. My hope is he would feel mighty real.

Myles E. Johnson is a writer based in Brooklyn. Follow him onTwitter.

March 21, 2018

Nakhane An Accomplish Musician Born In South Africa Rebels Against Homophobia and The Trappings of Religion

Nakhane’s past is well-documented. The acclaimed musician was born in Alice, a small town nestled away in South Africa’s eastern cape, raised in Port Elizabeth by his auntie – who adopted him early on and whom he refers to as ‘mom’ – and later moved to Johannesburg at 15 years old. He was raised Christian but became an apostate, renouncing his faith and speaking of the trappings he felt as a queer man within Christianity.

And while his story is layered, complex and often fraught with pain, but now – just weeks after celebrating his landmark 30th birthday – Nakhane is making an effort to look back through rose-tinted glasses.
“Recently I’ve been trying to find some positivity,” he explains via Skype from a hotel room in Brussels. “I know I was loved, at least. Maybe not by the people who were supposed to love me, but I was loved nonetheless.”
He feels able to do this only after years of reopening old wounds to write upcoming album You Will Not Die, a record which fuses electronic soundscapes with searingly honest lyrics and licks of the choral music he was raised with.
“You walk through fire to get these motherfucking songs,” he laughs, alluding to both the catharsis and the necessity of making such a personal album.
It’s clear he takes his art seriously, but that’s not to say he takes himself seriously. In fact, the opposite seems true: he laughs and mocks himself often, offsetting intellectual statements with well-timed jokes.
Nakhane is also open about his desire for success, describing the term ‘selling out’ as one which comes from a place of privilege: “Well, who are the ones who can afford not to sell out? It’s like when Patti Smith became successful and the punks called her a sell-out. It’s ridiculous. Don’t want profit? Don’t record the music! Don’t shit on other people, too – why do people have to diss Britney Spears just because they like metal music?”
In a sense, he embraces pop. Despite not creating with money in mind, it’s undeniable that You Will Not Die, with its infectious melodies and joyful hooks, is more ‘pop’ than its acoustic predecessor Brave Confusion. He recalls telling his producer he wanted a combination of “something that sounded like the second half of David Bowie’s Low” and the South African musicians he loves, so decided to make a playlist – which can be heard below – to help. Laughing, he recalls the response: “OK, got it. Let’s go and make some pop music!”
He cites a desire to create an “electronic singer-songwriter album” propelled by synths and drum machines, as well as an urge to interrogate the notion of ‘authenticity’ in music. “The words ‘singer-songwriter’ conjure up images of bearded white musicians with ukuleles,” he chuckles. “For a long time in South Africa, especially when I started out, that was seen as ‘authentic’ music, and I didn’t tick any of those boxes.”
A history of breaking with convention runs in the family. “‘Star Red’ was the first song we recorded, and that became the album blueprint,” he says of the song, written about his grandmother. “She was the original bad bitch! She was an alcoholic and she smoked, and those were things you just didn’t do. Think about it – this was Apartheid South Africa, and here was a black woman from a rural area smoking, drinking and fucking unashamedly. That’s revolutionary.”
Nakhane learned to be similarly unapologetic from a young age, joking that he would respond to boys asking to suck his dick as an insult with a playful “where do you want to go?“ “There’s a really beautiful line in HBO adaptation of Angels in America when Al Pacino says, ‘it’s difficult to destroy something that knows itself.’ I remember being struck by how beautiful that was; it stuck with me.”
Although he fought off homophobia at school, his recent starring role in ‘The Wound’, a gay love story set in an initiation school for Xhosa boys, was met with religious protests and, essentially, a ban which has now been lifted.
In an emotionally-charged Instagram post at the time, he nodded back to the discrimination he faced as a queer Xhosa boy: “I don’t know what to do with what I love, but doesn’t love me,” he wrote. “You’ll rip our paintings and photographs off walls, but we will not go anywhere. We will still be here even if you think you’ve won.”
“There’s still a stigma around being black, South Africa, Xhosa, queer,” the artist told INTO. “These are all taboos, so it’s like you have to keep kicking down these doors. It’s important to do that, because when I was young, there was nobody that looked like me in the media.”
And this reality not only made him feel incredibly alone as a young person — but it now fuels his work today.
“That really fucked me up, so I feel like if I can afford to be a visible queer people then I should be. Some people can’t afford to, because they might get murdered, so those of us who can, should.”
However ironically as of late, queerness in the music industry has become more profitable than ever: PR reps throw around ‘queer’ as a buzzword frequently, offering little context to justify its use. Nakhane, on the other hand, embodies queerness with his inherent fluidity and desire to disrupt.
“You know how I said I was making amends?” He asks me coyly, as though a smile is playing on his lips. “The last person I saw was a guy who saw me leaving the church as confirmation I was going to hell. I met him. I was showing him pictures of my recent work and he said, ‘Oh, I can’t handle it – it’s too gay!’”
“I think he wanted me to be offended, but if anything I was proud,” he continued. “I don’t want you to feel comfortable: I want you to know that queer people exist. That I exist. If my performance, my body, my photography make you uncomfortable, then I’ve done my job.”
Visibility may be a double-edged sword, but Nakhane describes the term ‘realness’ as proof that queer people have long been forced to blend for self-protection. He points to the religious protests which followed ‘The Wound’ as an example: “That used to hurt me,” he admits, “but Christianity was never mine – it was brought to me by people who wanted land, resources, gold. I look at it through that colonial lens and it’s ugly, but nothing is completely evil. In fact, the poetry in the Bible is almost unparalleled.”
He riffs on his Christian past throughout the album, finding catharsis in a construct which once made him miserable: “I choose to take what I want from it, and I feel I have the right to use it because it used me for so long.”
It’s clearly taken a while, but today Nakhane seems to be at peace with his past and excited for his future. After years spent rubbing salt in old wounds to yield ‘You Will Not Die’, he seems relieved to have the album out of his system.
And it even seems the pain was worth it, too – the album veers between soundscapes but remains cohesive, linked by a combination of introspective lyrics and joyous, almost utopian melodies.
The choruses are euphoric, his high notes extended and his message clear: no matter what the world throw his way, he won’t be beaten down.
Check out Nakhane's exclusive playlist on iTunes.
Images by Tarryn Hatchett.

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January 13, 2018

Troye Sivan A Gay PoP Icon...My My My!

August 13, 2017

Russian Young Gay Violinist Finds Freedom in Chicago


  Violinist Artem Kolesov, a graduate student at Roosevelt University, poses for a photograph outside the school's Auditorium Theatre on Aug. 9, 2017, in Chicago.  (John J. Kim / Chicago Tribune)

One day this spring, Artem Kolesov set up a video camera in the Chicago townhouse where he lives, sat down in a chair and started talking to the young gay people of Russia.
"Yesterday I turned 23 years old," he began.

He went on, in Russian, to tell the story of growing up as the fourth of six brothers in a small town, an hour's drive from Moscow, where his father was a deacon and his mother was a youth pastor at the Pentecostal church.

"In my family," he said on the video, "I often heard that all gays should be destroyed, that they should be bombed and that if anyone in our family turns out to be gay, my family should kill them with their bare hands." He spoke for 15 minutes, dressed in a plain white pullover shirt, his voice occasionally shaky as he talked of his suicidal thoughts and his search for courage.

"I never thought I would live to be 23," he said into the camera, not knowing who, if anyone, would watch. "I think about everything I would have missed if I took my life."
Frankly, Kolesov hadn't been sure the world needed another coming-out video. But he told himself that if anyone did, it was kids in Russia, where being openly gay can be dangerous and discrimination is common and condoned.

"My heart has been breaking for the five months since I posted this video," he said one day this week, sitting at Cafecito, a Cuban coffee shop near Roosevelt University, where he is a master's student studying violin.

He's a slender man with sharp, bright eyes. The left side of his face droops slightly, which, as he explained in the video, is the consequence of nerves damaged when he was born. His English is impeccable.

Almost every day brings Kolesov new messages from Russian kids trapped in a culture where they're shamed and threatened. He spends hours communicating with them, grateful that he has made it to Chicago, where he doesn't have to hide.
He came to the city two years ago, after attending college in Canada, to work with the renowned violinist Almita Vamos, who calls him "a very natural player, with a natural, beautiful sound."

"When he started studying with me, he told the kids, 'Don't tell her I'm gay,'" Vamos said. "He was afraid I might not react well." 
Eventually, he opened up to her about the conflict that being gay had created between him and his family, especially his mother, whom he loves deeply and has always wanted to please.

Once, at the age of 7, as he tells the story, he overheard her friends lamenting to her that she had no daughters.
He put a pair of leggings on his head, like braids, and went to her and said, "I will be your daughter and help you around the house."

If she suspected the truth about her son's sexuality, it was never spoken of, not until this March, after she'd made a strained visit to Chicago, when he wrote her a long coming-out letter and read it to her over the phone.
"I was afraid if I did it on Skype, I would chicken out," he said.

By his account, she didn't respond well. She told him it was unnatural, that he was just trying to be cool, hadn't found the right girl, should keep it to himself, needed an MRI, should come back to Russia to be cured.

Her censure motivated him to make the video, but also made him hesitate.
"People like to put out positive things," he said. "A boy comes out, his parents accept him and everyone cries. No one wants to see a video where people are disowned."
Apparently, they do. The video went viral.

Kolesov's decision to come out was also eased by his relationship with Carol and Rob Schickel, a couple he met while playing violin at Chicago's Holy Trinity Lutheran Church. Last summer, when they heard he had no money and nowhere to stay, they invited him to live with them in their South Loop townhouse. He made the video in their living room.

"I don't think it was until he got to Chicago that he could really publicly be out," said Carol Schickel, a psychotherapist. "His coming out has been not only about his sexuality. It's about him being in life. What's being revealed, even to him, is his deep inner strength."
Because of the video, many of Kolesov's old Russian friends deleted him from their social media accounts. He says the Russian church he once attended, aware of his video, is planning a youth course on why being gay is wrong.

Even if he wanted to go home for a visit, he wouldn't feel safe. With the video, he has broken the so-called "gay propaganda" law, which bans the distribution of information on "nontraditional sexual relationships" to minors.

But if making the video has cost Kolesov relationships he cherishes, it has also led him to new friends.

"I saw that video on Facebook," said Bruce Koff, a longtime Chicago gay activist, "and I wept. I went to my husband and said, 'You have to watch this,' and he wept."

They and some friends got in touch with Kolesov, and as a result have organized a benefit concert on Saturday, Aug. 26, at the Center on Halsted. Kolesov will perform, along with the well-known violinist Rachel Barton Pine. Some of the money raised will help him pay legal fees involved in getting a green card, and some will go to organizations that help LGBT people fleeing persecution in other countries.

Soon after that, Kolesov will leave Chicago for California. In May, he got married to a man who is enrolling in a PhD program at UCLA. The Schickels, whom he calls "my American parents," came to the wedding in San Francisco.

His only regret was that his mother wasn't there.
"I hope her love for me is bigger than these misconceptions," he said.
One thing he has learned in his 23 years is that you never know what's going to happen next.

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