Tom Goss and Music for Our Movement

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I never thought way back on Valentine’s Day of ’09 that the singer of the video I posted here that day would become my friend! Tom Goss is an incredible singer/songwriter and really just a great guy all around. I had the pleasure of seeing him perform right here in little ol’ Harrisburg, PA last night and it was an absolute delight.

I think there is something so important about celebrating our out LGBT artists. There are a lot of artists out there who can do things for our community, but artists from our community can really project our experiences with profound power. Tom is a great example of that, particularly in the way he’s so open and casual about his relationship with his amazing fiancé, Michael, who was also at the show last night, and for whom many of Tom’s songs are unabashedly written. Here’s a video Tom recorded of a song he’d just written about watching Michael snore, which he recorded while Michael was snoring. It’s incredibly sweet:

I remember when I first discovered an out gay artist. It was Levi Kreis, and his album One of the Ones was this lovely collection of songs about love and relationships, and even if there wasn’t a single gendered word in the song, you knew they were about another man. There is something so important about hearing songs that are about our own experiences. I think so many in our community are still deprived of that opportunity: to see a fellow queer person communicate through music testimonies of our own lives.

While the music of the civil rights movement was very spiritual and inspiring, it seems music in the LGBT movement has been more about liberation. More than anything, ours has been a struggle against repression, a war against the closet and against those who would keep us there. When we celebrate ourselves, we celebrate our freedom and those chance opportunities to let loose. It’s unsurprising that dance and techno music has largely defined that, because that is exactly what dance music communicates: it makes you want to dance. It’s light and yet fierce at the same time; it’s incredibly freeing.

Unfortunately, many of the musicians we celebrate (Cher, Robyn, September, Ke$ha, Miley, etc.) have been heterosexuals, and while dance music may energize us, it lacks a real human connection to the joys and challenges of our lives as LGBT people. That’s why music like Tom’s is so important; it’s music for the 363 days we’re not at Pride. I wonder how many people re-closet themselves after they leave Pride and just ignore the reality of their own identity because it’s easier for them to do so. Truly queer music might be challenging to some in that it helps break down self-constructed closet walls, but the consequence is, I think, a deep sense of validation and connection. We are real people with real relationships and real emotions and there needs to be a soundtrack for our lives too.

I hope you, my reader, will take some time to find an artist who really speaks to your experience. Don’t settle for the spoon-fed mainstream pop music; it alone will not speak to the life you lead. Find the artists who do, and you will be amazed at how they impact and empower you.

Thanks for a great show Tom! If there are other openly queer artists out there who I can help connect with a queer audience, please let me hear from you! I like new friends and I like supporting queer musicians (and any other kind of visual/theatrical/etc. artists too)!

I’ll leave you with a song Tom Goss co-wrote with Matt Alber (who I featured here on Valentine’s Day ’10) about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell called “Who We Are.” Enjoy!

Tom Goss and Matt Alber – Who We Are

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