Pearson, who spent years as the frontman of the Christian rock band Everyday Sunday, came out as gay in an open letter that appeared on the Religion News Service in 2016. He marked the fourth anniversary of his coming out by releasing “1984” earlier this month.
(Watch the lyric video for “1984” above.)
The singer-songwriter said he got the idea for the anthemic track from a friend who had witnessed the HIV/AIDS crisis of the 1980s firsthand. He drew parallels between his pal’s experiences and the COVID-19 pandemic, which, along with the ongoing protests against racial inequality, have reinforced the significance of the social justice efforts a half-century ago that led to LGBTQ Pride Month.
“I view this song as a love letter sent to us from the LGBT community of the ’80s,” Pearson told HuffPost. “It is an uneasy time, and this song is one thing I can contribute, honoring the uproar that brought us Pride.”
Kramer is best known for his seminal 1985 play “The Normal Heart.” Later adapted into a 2014 HBO film starring Mark Ruffalo and Julia Roberts, the drama was based on Kramer’s work as the founder of the advocacy groups Gay Men’s Health Crisis and ACT UP during the HIV/AIDS crisis.
Pearson was putting the finishing touches on “1984” when he learned Kramer had died on May 27 at age 84. Noting that the news added poignancy to the studio sessions, he decided to dedicate his song to the activist and playwright.
“1984” marks Pearson’s first release of new music since his 2017 debut solo EP, “Love Is Love.” The seven tracks featured on “Love Is Love” included the singles “Silver Horizon” and “Hey Jesus,” and reflected the singer-songwriter’s efforts to reconcile his religious faith with his sexuality.
“I had always used my art to try to express the emotions I was going through [and] it felt like a valve burst open of emotions when I finally did accept myself, including my creativity,” Pearson told HuffPost last year. “I have had so much to write about as I came out to myself and in the time since then, as I have been processing my journey and experiencing so many parts of life I had never been able to experience before.”