Chad King of A Great Big World has said one of his childhood crushes on another boy inspired the pop-rock duo’s new summer single, “This Is Magic.” So it’s only fitting that the song would become the soundtrack for a heartwarming short film showcasing queer love.
King’s interest in “shedding a light on love for love itself, beyond gender or sexuality or the color of your skin” inspired the film, titled simply “A Queer Love Story Featuring ‘This Is Magic’ by A Great Big World” and viewable above. In it, two young queer people (played by Oslo Grace, a nonbinary transgender model, and actor Justice Jamal Jones) have a chance encounter on the New York subway. Soon, the pair is enjoying a dreamy date in the city that culminates in a sunset kiss on a Brooklyn rooftop.
Director Zen Zadih Pace, who identifies as nonbinary queer and uses the pronouns “they” and “them,” told HuffPost they instantly connected to “This Is Magic” after hearing the song for the first time.
“I pretty much jumped out of my seat and started pacing around. It spoke to my inner queer child who didn’t get a chance to fully embrace themself in their early youth,” Pace said.
Like King, the director had plenty of real-life experience to draw from as far as crafting a visual for the song was concerned. “I moved [to New York] nine years ago from Flint, Michigan, because I fell in love with a boy,” Pace said. “That love made everything taste like cotton candy.”
Fortunately, getting King on board wasn’t an issue. “Both Chad and I are hopeful romantics who just really love love,” Pace quipped. “So we ran with that.”
As far as casting Grace and Jones as the film’s central couple, Pace said, “I was inspired by both of them being so grounded in their identity, online and offline. I also didn’t want to see a love story about two cis white people. If I have an opportunity to put anyone who’s marginalized in front of the screen and make a powerful video, that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”
King and his A Great Big World bandmate, Ian Axel, who identifies as straight, have made a distinct effort over the years to make their music as inclusive as possible. Their 2015 hit, “Hold Each Other,” included King using male pronouns in verses featuring his vocals, while Axel switched to female pronouns for his parts.
With “This Is Magic,” however, the Grammy-winning duo wanted to go even further.
“There just isn’t enough queer representation in music and the media, and I wanted to give us more of a voice and something we could relate to,” King said. “As a queer person of the ’90s, I grew up being constantly shown straight couples’ love being celebrated.”
Ultimately, both King and Pace want viewers to come away from “This Is Magic” with the feeling that “there is a place, a person, who will hear and see them the way they deserve,” regardless of their sexuality and gender identity.
“We queers rarely get to see ourselves represented in pure joy,” Pace said. “I believe we have a responsibility as queer artists to show young queers possibilities. We wanted to show them that, yes, you can have that cotton-candy love just like your cisgender, straight peers.”