The (R)Evolution of Steve Grand, A Musician Doing It Right!

I am many things, a Writer, an LGBT Activist, a Foodie, and a Fan-boy, to name a few.  Two of those converged in the Summer of 2013, when Steve Grand uploaded a music video to his song, “All-American Boy,” on YouTube, and it immediately went viral.  My pride in all things positive in the LGBT Community, and my fan-boy instincts for a good-looking, young man, who was out and proud, converged, and I have happily followed along on his journey from afar, and it’s time to write a bit about it.

I remember shouting out the video on Twitter and Facebook when it was really starting to blow-up and was very excited for him, although I had never really heard of him before.  It had over a million views on YouTube in just 8 days.  The song and video brought instant celebrity, not only in the gay community, but mainstream media caught on early as well.  He was labeled the first out, gay, country artist, a label he never really embraced, but when you are in a whirlwind of fame, he didn’t really have time to deny it either.  He soon went on to raise one of the top 5 highest Kickstarter campaigns in the music categories history.  Nearly 5,000 supporters, donated almost $327,000 to release an album on his own, without having to go through the tricky world of traditional music studios.

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The new album dropped on March 24th of this year and was a huge success for in independent record.  It debuted at 47 on Billboard’s top 200, 27 on the week’s top record sales, and number 3 on the week’s top independent records.  These are impressive numbers for a debut album, especially a self(crowd)-funded one.  Along with the albums release, has come the requisite rounds of promotion to keep the record selling, and the battle for an identity has been a topic of the conversation.  Even as an independent, the industry and media are calling it the album from that out, gay, country artist.  Aren’t labels strange?

It isn’t the first time that Steve Grand has had to try to explain his evolution.  As it happens to all celebrities, gay and straight alike, as soon as Steve’s video went viral, the internet was deluged with search requests for this good-looking, muscular man, and as Internet trolls usually do, found images of Steve’s past that was just that, past.  Shock among shocks, the handsome man with the body he obviously has worked hard on and sacrificed many a grilled cheese sandwich for, had done some modeling work.  He has modeled underwear and taken some modeling photos.  Leave it to our own LGBT Community to commence in eating our own, trying to make more out of persons past, when they are still learning who they are and what they can do in the world, than the young man he has become, and the musical talent he has been nurturing.

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Now that he is promoting his new album, he is constantly having to explain his style of music.  He is constantly being put into the country box, and that the album is him evolving into a more diverse artist.  He was ALWAYS a diverse artist.  If you use those same google searches, you will find other YouTube videos he has made under the name, “Steve Starchild,” where he covers the likes of Journey and Bruno Mars.  Yes, the hit that made him a celebrity was country themed, but he has always claimed to be a singer/songwriter, and said it best when he says he prefers Americana songs that cover a wide spectrum.

I never donated to his Kickstarter, but I was one of the first to order the new album, and I was not disappointed.  There are still some country, or what I call, “country-pop,” on such songs as ” “Whiskey Crime,” and “Stay,” but there was also a nice ballad in “Back to California,” and some heavy “pop-rocking” choices in “Say You Love Me,” “Next to Me,” and “Better Off.”  I believe this good-looking man, with a talent for writing as well as performing music is part of a (R)evolution of artists that aren’t going to be pigeon-holed, and just love to write and sing.

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Maybe there is another evolution in Steve Grand, or more.  He already is mixing LGBT activism with his music, performing at fundraisers and Pride events across the country and Canada.  At 25, he really does have the world ahead of him to conquer.  Let’s give the man a bit of a break and try not to tear someone down immediately as his celebrity goes up.  I know it’s an American past-time, but this All-American Boy deserves a little more respect in my humble opinion.  Rock On Stranger Friend, (or Country On, Pop On, Jazz On, even Tibetan Chant On), whatever floats your boat Steve, but just keep on writing and singing your truth…………..Scott

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The Issue of Homelessness for our LGBT Youth

I am not an expert, nor am I well-educated on LGBT Homeless Youth issues, but I do know about the statistics, and it breaks my heart.  Currently, it is estimated that 40% of homeless youth are from the LGBT Community from either being thrown out of their homes by homophobic parents, running away due to fear of reprisal at home, and sometimes just lack of judgement as a teenager.

I was homeless for about a week when I was 19, but I had enough money to survive on for that week and it didn’t have to do with being LGBT, just too prideful to go from where I was living, to moving back in with family.  The worst part of it, was basically living in my car.  After the week ran out, I wasn’t strong enough to stay on the streets without money and asked my parents to borrow a room for three months.  I can’t imagine not having a choice in the matter.

I’ve written about the pizza debacle that happened in Indiana, and I found a fund set-up, trying to capitalize on the $842,000 windfall, the naive or bigoted pizza shop owners received.  Cyndi Lauper set one up as well through her “True Colors” foundation, but the one I am supporting has pledged to house 100 LGBT homeless youth for a full year.  The fundraising goal is $100,000, far below what the pizza owners lucked into.  The fund is being run by “Planting Peace,” a global humanitarian organization, who bought and painted a house in rainbow colors, across from the Westboro Baptist Church, famous for their “God Hates Fags” mission.  They are very reputable.

peace house

I have become part of this campaign to help raise the $100,000 needed.  I am asking for friends, readers, and followers to please donate at least the price of a slice of pizza or a coffee at Starbucks.  $2 to $5 helps, and more if you can afford it, is appreciated.  This is the only weekend I am promoting this, I just wanted to do a small part if possible with all of you, who have been so kind in supporting my writing in the past.  If you can donate, please go to the website, Linked Here.

Thank you all for being part of my online life, and Have a great week….Scott

Dang Dude, Do You Live On The Computer? The LeftofStr8 Story

So that question was posed to me recently, and yes, I have a tiny little apartment next to the TAB key.  HA!  I thought it’s time to peel back maybe just a layer of what I am doing in this great big cyber world.  If you didn’t know already, my name is Scott.  I live in Northeast Ohio.  I am over 29 years old, (that’s when I stopped counting, I just have anniversaries now of my 29th birthday, and frankly I don’t want to do the math).  I am single and gay, and not always in that order.  I’m a chubby man who enjoys movies/concerts/plays, television, comics, food, writing, and occasional naps.  (I know what you are thinking, ‘he is into comics and all of that stuff and he is still single?’ sad but currently true).

I grew up in Southern California, have lived in six states, and traveled through 43 states and two other countries.  I have worked too many jobs to count, but I am a hard worker and vagabond by nature, so I love to travel around and try new things.  I have owned two businesses, but just finished doing a job I hated for 5 years.  I am currently unemployed by choice. ( I know, another reason to wonder why I am currently single).  Unemployed does not mean I am not working.  My father has had two heart attacks and two strokes, and was recently hospitalized for a month and a half.  I have quit work to help him and my mother out, as he is basically been given 5 months to 5 years, for the second time.  The new wrinkle is he can barely walk around the house, but thank goodness he is still mobile.

While my mother is still quite capable, her old bones have begun to creek a bit as well, so I am currently doing most of the cooking, most of the cleaning, most of the laundry, and all outside errands for banking, groceries, prescriptions and odds and ends.  To do this, I have moved back home into the fully finished and furnished basement, while my parents are as I call them, “The Strangers Above.”  Honestly this basement is bigger than a lot of apartments, yes I am talking to you New York friends, and it has its own entrance.  It has enabled me to not live off of the government since my only bills now are for my car and clothes, and I was able to save up a nice pile of cash in my many years of working.  My parents pay for all the food and a small salary for me.  (Live with your parents?  C’mon seriously, you can’t be single.)

Basically I work at home for a total of 2-4 hours a day, freedom to go out almost anytime but meals and doctors, so it’s really not as bad as it sounds.  To that end, I have A LOT of time on my hands and a lot of creativity and energy to burn off throughout the day and evening, so here I am, on the Internet.  My forte in all of my working years was restaurant management and marketing.  Those are the two businesses I owned as well; my own restaurant and my own marketing company.  The nice thing about the Internet is you can now build a business almost entirely from online.  That’s my goal and current passion.  I am starting a Restaurant Consulting business, where I will actually go out to the restaurants, and an Internet hub through writing, blogging, posting, and eventually podcasting about issues I am passionate about.  The LGBT Community, Entertainment, and Food.

I am looking forward to looking after my dad as he needs me, until the day he doesn’t need anyone anymore, and interacting with my friends and confidants online and in my little community here in NE Ohio.  It may not be the most glamorous life, but it’s a good life for now, and hopefully the Internet will make it a little more fun and profitable as I go on.  I just wanted to take a second and open up about myself a bit, and say thank you for following me, and encouraging me on my journey here on the Internet and with my family.  (And no matter what you read above, I am still quite a catch, lol)……..Scott

When Our Quest For Gay Rights Goes Too Far!

Has our LGBT Rights Movement, “Jumped The Shark?”  I am old enough to remember the days of ACT UP and other LGBT organizations that were just fed up with government and people simply ignoring our Community, or actively working against it.  The idea was just to be so loud and in your face, that the public would have to at least notice and acknowledge our existence, and it was a strong tool in rallying, but also brought a lot of ammunition to those working against us.  The “Indiana Pizza Incident,” is an example of right thinking gone wrong.

If you aren’t familiar, as the Indiana legislature and Governor Mike Pence put through their Religious Freedom Bill, our LGBT Community and one of the biggest outpouring of Allies that I can remember, immediately called the Bill what it is, a bigoted response to the current same-sex marriage wave, allowing individually owned businesses to discriminate against us gays.  A small town Indiana pizza shop co-owner, along with her co-owner father, was interviewed by a local television station and said they were in support of the Bill.  They said that although they have no problem serving our Community in their restaurant, they would be unwilling to cater a same-sex wedding under the new law, as it goes against their Christian beliefs.  Adding more naive insult to the injury, they made it clear they thought that being gay was a choice, just as they thought being a heterosexual is.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way, most gays are not going to cater their wedding with pizza and beer.  (Not saying that’s a bad idea when you’ve lived together as any couple for quite a few years, and just want to have a party with your friends to celebrate gettin’ hitched, lol).  Also obvious to us, is that being LGBT is not a choice, just how we were born.  However, we had a good chance to use this as an example of what the Bill is really about.  A way to showcase that you wouldn’t ask if a couple was divorced, have a child out of wedlock, or any other of the sins of the Bible that Christians routinely don’t care as much about.  It is discrimination, pure and simple, but instead of illuminating it for what it is, we blew it.  Big Time!!

Backlash against the store owners started immediately.  Their YELP customer comments were deluged with many bad reviews, but it didn’t stop there.  Some of the Internet comments started to get just plain nasty.  There were threats to burn their business down, and even more brutal threats.  Their phone was blowing up off the hook with nasty comments.  Our LGBT Community and allies went from taking the high road and using these store owners as an example of how bad the Bill is, to instead, bringing national attention to how low we will go if you don’t support us.

The owners decided to close the pizza shop after all of the attention.  Is that really the victory we wanted?Did we want some naive at best, ignorant at worse, small town business owners to lose their lively hood for not catering pizza at our weddings?  Soon, religious Conservatives rallied to the pizza owners defense.  They began a GoFundMe Internet fundraising campaign to help the owners out as their doors are closed.  At last glance, and in less that two days, the owners are now sitting on a treasure chest of over $500,000 dollars that has been donated to them, and they plan on re-opening the shop in a few days.

Our LGBT Community and allies, by taking the low road of intimidation and threats, have made this stand against our rights, an example and rallying point for those trying to pass similar Religious Freedom Bills across the country.  Worse yet, the pizza shop owners are calling all of this money a certain blessing from God, for standing for their religious beliefs, and are creating a case for all Christians of the same belief to think that if they dig their heels in and spout ignorance, they will be rewarded as well.  I don’t think that is the outcome we were hoping for in making them a bad example.  They have turned it around completely.

I think this battle in Indiana and following in Arkansas and others, was starting to tip the war in our favor as an LGBT Community.  We have business leaders, allies, and individuals who stood up and noticed that this so-called Religious Freedom Bill, was just a smokescreen to promote bigotry and discrimination.  But as we charged forth, we lost another battle and might have taken us a step backward in the fray.

We should never remain silent in our call to demanding full equality for our Community.  We should never let anyone try to relegate us as second class.  However, in order to win the war, we must keep these battles at least civil.  Personal threats and physical force will make us as bad as those we are fighting against, and not do us any favors in the meantime.  Be Vocal, but offer the same respect we are trying to achieve.