i grew up in church . my childhood was quite nomadic , but church was the constant . fast forward to when I was 23 and i came out to my church in los angeles . it was called “reality” ( how ironic) . there they had a gay guru of sorts . he was the example of what it could be like to be freed from this burden of same-sex attraction . i was offered reparative therapy but couldn’t do it . this “all loving god” i was taught about as a kid . this savior that loves the outcasts . he’s hanging out and washing the feet of people that no one wants anything to do with but he hates me cause i’m gay ? cause i have a beautiful and humongous capacity to truly and deeply love another man ? and so i got kicked out along with my first boyfriend that i met there . and it tore him apart and it tore me apart and it tore us apart . it left some of the deepest scars that still bleed .
here i am , twenty eight , living in los angeles , writing and singing songs . i went on my first tour last year . my first time getting face-to-face time with people that have been listening to my songs and my stories . and i meet these two kids , two trans teenagers and here’s where the story really starts .
these two guys . they are themselves , simply themselves with nothing to hide . it took me twenty-three years , six churches , countless blacked out nites , a stint in rehab , and a suicide note to be able to utter the words “ i’m gay “ . even just to myself . and one nite after a show , i meet these two guys and they are just as they are . i was so inspired . i started talking with them and we got to know each other quite well . i’ve met their families and their girlfriends . i hear about what life is like for them .
come february 23 , the day after trump took away federal protections for trans students in public schools . i cried when i heard the news . i cried for them . i cried cause i knew how hard it was for them already . i feared that this would give other kids permission to hate more freely . i was talking to them that day and hearing about what it felt like . my heart broke . i was on my way to a writing session and the word “village” kept swirling around in my head . like it’s gonna take a village to fix this . to come together and DO something . i asked my friends drew pearson and andrew jackson if they would tell this story with me .
i sent “the village” to those two fans thinking if they were the only people to hear it , that’s good enough for me . i saw how much it meant to them and knew I had to release it . they kept saying “this will help so many people” . if it had such an impact on us , what could it do for everyone out there that feels like an outcast ? what could it do for a trans kid sitting in a church pew in alabama ? or a straight guy in nebraska that hates trans people but doesn’t even know why ? or a pastor’s son that’s starting to question his sexuality but feels like the whole world will end if he even thinks about saying anything .
so here we are . dano cerny made a powerful , bold , beautiful video starring august aiden . dano and august have two of the biggest hearts and the most brilliant minds and both poured themselves into this ten thousand percent . i still can’t watch the video without sobbing . i’ve never experienced anything like the day we shot the video . it was like everyone was THERE . truly there . so present , so invested , so much heart . we planned on releasing it in october , but when we all woke up to trump’s tweets about banning trans people from serving in the military , we all realized the importance of getting it out as soon as possible to shed some light . to spread some hope .
and now we share this with you . it’s so much bigger than me . this is real life , these are real people . no matter race , religion , gender identity , orientation . . . we’re all people . we have to understand that . people are dying . i want to say that again . people are dying . due to what ? closed-mindedness ? is that ok ? this isn’t political . this is HUMAN . lgbtq+ is not a fad . it’s not a phase . it is not a MYTH . we are here and we are who we are and we are valid . we all have our own realities , our own stories , our own past , present , and hope for the future . it’s so so very important that we look outside of ourselves and look to another person and try to understand . to see from their eyes and walk in their shoes .
i give you this song and this video with all of my love .