Steve Grand “Not The End Of Me”


I just listened to the entirety of Steve Grand’s second full-length album Not The End Of Me. Many things have changed in his life and in my life since the first time I saw him perform on Pittsburgh’s Liberty Avenue stage in mid-June of 2014. Steve’s fan base continues to be small. Despite that, it still remains one of the most diverse and loyal groups of people I’ve ever had the pleasure of interacting with on social media.

I was out visiting my sister in New York City when the out singer’s album was initially released. I didn’t listen to it until I returned that Sunday. I was initially nervous about it. I say that because his debut album All American Boy was unique in its own light. It was the number one most funded music project in Kickstarter history. I expected Not The End of Me to live up to the honesty and authenticity of its predecessor. 

I am happy to say that my expectations were met when I finished my first listen. However, I continue to struggle with the ability to come up with the words to describe how I feel about each track on this gem by an unbelievably talented and underrated performer. I felt that when I listened to the catchy and upbeat opener “Walking.” I struggled throughout each track because each one has its own musical style, lyricism and subject matter. 

Pink Champagne makes it clear that Steve previously struggled with alcoholism. Many people in the LGBT community struggle with addiction. I think part of it is used to cover up the pain of dealing with the general hatred and discrimination many of us are subjected to. They can only cope with that stigma by resorting to whatever their addictive behavior may be. This causes the individual to become completely unaware of how dangerous their behavior can indeed be. 

“Disciple” is my favorite song on the record. The religious imagery of mother Mary and Jesus may confuse the listener and wonder what Steve is exactly trying to say. It is no secret that Christianity has a long history of anti-LGBT teachings. (I was raised Lutheran, and my hometown church previously lost membership out of opposition to the ELCA’s stance on ordaining clergy who are in a committed relationship with a person of the same sex.) 

The message of the song changes from verse one to verse two. Verse one portrays a childlike peace with the teachings of Jesus and Christianity. It changes, however, in verse two. Pain associated with the anti-LGBT teachings of the church are angering him and driving him away. The anger associated with these teachings seems to push him farther to the point to where he feels that he says he will “die happy never to hear your (Jesus’s) words again.”

“Don’t Let The Light In” makes it clear that Steve has found the love of his life. (At least throughout the four-minute and eleven-second duration of the song.) Its emotionality reminds me of his debut single “All American Boy.” I have yet to find that person whom I am more than willing to fight for. (We’ll see if and when that actually happens.) However, this song gives me four minutes and eleven seconds of hope that I will someday find that person. who truly makes me feel “Safe and Sound

“Aint It Something” also reminds me of “All American Boy” in the sense that Steve doesn’t truly get the guy in the end. We’ve all met that one person in our life who wins us over by their charm and good looks. We get the opportunity to connect, only, thinking we truly have a shot. Then, the person leaves and is never to be seen again. Fantasy is always better than reality, right? 

“Not The End Of Me” is a song that lives up to its name. It doesn’t matter how bad a break up gets. There becomes a time when we have to stand up and remind ourselves that we are still here. 

“Anti Hero” is a song about Steve’s aunt and godmother Diane Niehaus, who the entire album was dedicated to. She died from cancer in 2015. The lyrics are deep and full of emotion, which is why I also consider this track to be one of my favorites. I have never experienced the loss of someone close to me. However, I do live with Depression. I know it is a lifelong struggle, no matter how much people try to say I can magically snap out of. I never met Diane. But, I could instantly tell that she and Steve were incredibly close. “I was just a child, her love was like the ocean.” Her death pushed him into a Depression so deep that he resorted to alcohol as a way to cope with the pain he was experiencing. 

“Good To See You” reminds me of who I was during my teenage years. In particular, the second verse is particularly relevant to me. Steve talks about how he built a wall against the people who really cared about him. I was bullied a lot as a teenager, especially during freshman and sophomore year of high school. I also struggled with Autism Spectrum Disorder (Asperger’s Syndrome.) Difficulty relating to others put up a wall between me and those who truly wanted the best for me. Some may find it strange that he would say something so sincere towards a man whom he previously engaged in a one night stand with. I guess that is part of his personality! 

“All I Want” reminds us all of that one person whom, as the title suggests, supposedly is “the one.” There could be many reasons which may suggest that is the case. However, this person Steve is singing about just so happens to be a cheater. Deep down, he knows he truly is not worth it. His good looks seem to convince Steve into believing this guy is all he wants. (When will he learn?) I suppose the truth will catch up to him before too long! 

“You Or The Music” also lives up to its title. It is the most up-tempo song on the whole album. (I suppose it has an unintended meaning that Steve will be staying single for a while.) Steve’s busy touring schedule is bound to make it impossibly difficult to maintain a relationship with someone. He makes it abundantly clear that the music will ultimately win. 

It makes sense that “Can’t Go Back” is the closing track of the album. He says he is “running from his mind” and trying to cope with the painful experiences he has gone through. He is accepting the fact that he can’t go back and do it over again. 

These 12 tracks, along with the three demos, make Not The End Of Me hard to believe that it is only Steve Grand’s second full-length record. Steve is a talented, handsome and underrated artist who deserves more recognition than he gets. It gave me more insight into his mind and his songwriting. He was able to turn painful experiences like struggling with alcoholism and the death of his loving aunt/godmother into music. That, combined with his sheer dedication, is a talent few people have. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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More Reflections On The Shooting At Pulse Nightclub


I still have not fully come to grips with the events at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Those sentiments do not just hold right for the shooting itself. It holds true for how our world has responded to the deaths of 49 innocent people and sending more to hospitals with serious injuries. People like Arizona pastor Steven Anderson, California pastor Roger Jimenez, and Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick have used this tragedy to promote their hateful agenda. We have much farther to go! 

Reading about such self-proclaimed “men of God” have brought me back to a post from back in late April. The post, titled You Should Be More Discreetexpressed strong opposition to those who have insisted on “discreet policing” me by saying that I have should have lived my gay life in secret to avoid offending people who thought that homosexuality is icky. I indicated that it did not just come from loudmouth pastors like Steven Anderson. It came from individuals who claimed to be okay with the truth. Marrying a woman in a big church wedding will never be the ideal life for me. 

Is this going to become a new trend for the future? Will misguided, angry and hateful people with bad intentions look up to the perpetrator as a martyr? Will they try to succeed in following his footsteps? My definition of a perfect world would be a place where the answer to both of those questions is no. Tragically, that is too much to ask. I have watched report after report. Like everyone else, I have one ultimate question that we will never know the real answer. Why would someone commit an act so calculated, violent and hateful? 

For me, the news reports are the worst things about this tragedy. I especially feel this way when I watch interviews with survivors who describe their horrific ordeal in detail. I can only view so many of those before I shiver and cringe after thinking about what would happen if someone were to open fire at any of the local businesses that I frequent. It is one thing to have to worry about such an event reoccurring at my local movie theater or grocery store. It is another thing to have to worry about it in a business that prides itself on being inclusive of the LGBT community. 

The events at Pulse Nightclub were one of the most brutal examples of how real anti-LGBT violence is. How can we LGBT folks overcome the fear of being targeted again? I am sorry to say that I don’t have a definite answer to that question . Even admitting the fact that I am gay runs the potential risk of being harassed, beaten or killed in some places throughout our United States of America. That does not mean I am going to lay in my bed cowering in fear of the things that make me stand out from everyone else. 

I cannot answer the above question by myself. But, I know there is power in numbers. I feel there is one more question that needs to be answered. 

1.) What will it take to introduce and pass legislation which will ensure that violent crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity are punished to the fullest extent of the law? Pennsylvania is just one of the states without hate crime laws without that specifically include either of those categories.  

http://www.phillymag.com/news/2016/06/21/pennsylvania-hate-crime-laws/ 

You can tell that this was not an easy post to write. I don’t think I, or anyone else, will be able to fully process our thoughts about the horrific tragedy at Pulse Nightclub. Like I said, there is power in numbers! We must all work together in reminding our nation that anti-LGBT violence is an epidemic. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being Openly Gay During The Holidays


The tree is lit up and beautifully decorated! Presents have been intricately wrapped! Christmas has returned for another year of festivities! So, why are people so mean and unhappy during this season that is really supposed to be about comfort and joy? Thanksgiving and Christmas are holidays that can either bring the best or the worst out of many family relationships. Many of our LGBT brothers and sisters who live with deeply religious parents are no stranger to that fact. If the relationship turns to the worst, it can really take a toll on them during the holidays. Whether you have a supportive family or not, we must remember one thing.

 “Attitude is the mind’s paintbrush. It can color any situation!”

I remember my elementary school teachers used to display this quote on their classroom walls. These two sentences are important for us all to remember. I suppose we can say that Murphy’s Law of being openly LGBT is that you are bound to experience people who just don’t get it. Attitude can reveal our true colors. I am glad that I have gotten over the whole “coming out” phase. I can remember feeling outraged when YouTube right-wing “prodigy” Caiden Cowger made a viral video called “Obama is making kids gay.”

“Homosexuality… It is a belief. It’s not mandatory in that person! That person is not born that way, no matter what Lady Gaga says. That person is not born that way! It is a decision! You see, it is getting worse where I’m at. I see younger people that is turning to be out to be homosexuals.  Its equal boy and girl both. All of them are turning into homosexuals. We’ve got about thirty, I’d say thirty teenagers in this county that I am at that are homosexuals and it is sickening! It sickens me!” Caiden Cowger “Obama is Making Kids Gay”

It’s obvious that his parents are raising him to believe such ignorance. I remember the plethora of video responses and blogs following this video. Many of them were from the LGBTQUIA community. Others came from political commentators like Bill Maher. The internet is certainly a place where one can spread their own ignorance and find people who agree with them. Let’s face it! We are all guilty of saying ignorant things. This ignorance can not only come from strangers on the internet. It can come face to face with those who supposedly “know” and “love” us.

This begs the question. Should I discuss my sexuality or not? Well, sexuality is a taboo subject for a lot of people. Some people cannot fathom two consenting men or two consenting women “doing what they do” (if you know what I am talking about.) I am certainly convinced that a lot (but not all) of it is overly based upon religious convictions and general ignorance. When it comes to people I interact with on a daily basis, opinions range from Liberal to Conservative. The holidays are not the time for debates about divisive issues. That means that anyone who wishes to proclaim their homophobia must keep one thing in mind. I refuse to conform to people’s perceptions of what is “icky.”  It’s best to make that crystal clear as soon as they start hurling anti gay (or “pro family”) epithets. They are fully convinced their religious deity believes it is an abomination, among the many negative connotations used by the religious right.

We’ve all been forced to resist the temptation to give that judgmental zealot a bloody punch in the face. However, people like Caiden Cowger should remind us of one thing. A bloody punch in the face (or a terroristic threat in the comment section) is the reaction they want. They want to use us to their own advantage. They want to see us get into trouble so they can gloat about it in the end. They want us to feel like failures. (Caiden makes that abundantly clear in his last video complete with an overly dramatic introduction.) The best thing to do about people like this is to walk away and pretend it did not happen. You have to rise above their arrogance. Tell yourself that you are worth more than any person who ever tries to deny that fact! It took me a very long time to tell myself that.

Homophobia from outside the LGBT community often forces us to do one thing that can be very damaging during the holidays. Internalizing our anger and imposing it on innocent people is an unfortunate and under recognized problem. I am a “high functioning” Autistic male who managed to come to terms with my sexuality. There are a lot of things I still have to learn about living in this world as a double minority. I have already learned that my uniqueness does not warrant disrespect towards anyone. I should remind you that disrespect is not always intentional. We’ve all failed to do things we should have done. We have all done things we should not have done. I was that high school kid who always felt left out no matter where I went. People noticed that and they would occasionally take advantage of it. I don’t feel the necessity to elaborate on those experiences now, mainly because it was in the past. However, I urge all LGBT people to include those who may be going through those feelings now. I am asking you to help in lessening the division that exists within our own community. I cannot do this on my own, but I am willing to do it if you are!

Thank you for reading and happy holidays!

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