As Trey Pearson began planning the music video for his song “Hey Jesus,” he had one primary objective: to “wrap up all the emotions” he felt as a young gay man in a fundamentalist Christian family.
“It’s the fastest I had ever written a song, and then I just spent hours after I wrote it bawling on the floor of my living room,” said Pearson, an Ohio native who spent 20 years as the frontman of the rock band Everyday Sunday. “It feels extremely liberating to be able to write and sing about these emotions.”
Released last week and viewable above, the “Hey Jesus” video finds Pearson enjoying a tender moment in bed with a male partner. Those intimate scenes are interspersed with shots of a drag queen and a young boy on an athletic field who join Pearson in singing the song.
As isolated as the characters may feel, all of them are united in their determination to live authentic lives as LGBTQ people of faith.
“Many LGBTQ adults in the U.S. grew up in conservative evangelical or Catholic homes, so I wanted the video to have a glimpse of how growing up brainwashed to think something is wrong with you affects so many people,” Pearson said. “As someone who has always wanted to be self-aware and vulnerable, it feels amazing to finally be able to do that and to work to bring that honesty to my music.”
“Hey Jesus” appears on Pearson’s debut solo EP, “Love Is Love.” The seven-song collection, which includes the title track and the previously released single “Silver Horizon,” represents the broad “range of emotions” the singer-songwriter has experienced since he came out publicly as gay in an open letter to fans in the June 2016 issue of (614) Magazine.
But Pearson’s road to living authentically was not without its setbacks. In 2016, he and his Everyday Sunday band mates were cut from the lineup of California’s Joshua Fest, a “family-friendly” Christian music festival staged just weeks after he came out. Still, he has no regrets.
“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 said. “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.”
“I hope there are kids that feel like they aren’t worthy of love that come upon this and find out they’re not alone, and that they are worthy of being loved exactly as they are.” Trey Pearson, singer-songwriter
“Hey Jesus” is being released as Pearson heads back to the recording studio once again, with plans to release new music later this year and in early 2020. He is also working on his first book, which he describes as “a memoir of my journey to self-acceptance.”
Thus far, he said, audience reaction to “Hey Jesus” has been overwhelmingly positive. As for those who may not be immediately receptive to its message, he would like to believe that the song and video will “move their hearts” in a small but substantial way.
“I hope that it brings hope to people,” Pearson added. “I hope there are kids that feel like they aren’t worthy of love that come upon this and find out they’re not alone, and that they are worthy of being loved exactly as they are.”