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Friday, July 26, 2013

Last section of my comments to Matt's article

Continuing my comments working through Matt Rettenmund’s article about his interviews with Steve Grand

*this is a lengthy post

It might be easier for you to follow my points here if you also put up Matt's Boy Culture Blog article on Steve Grand as a split screen along side this Blogger post.

Returning to Matt’s article:

·         And all of that was just to adequately address your reference to the Buzzfeed article.  Whew. 

·         Now to continue with your interview with Steve. 

·         The Bilerico Project removed my comments about Mark King’s article.  I had also written to the editor there, but then realized that the editor is John Berger.  So, I wasn’t surprised when my
comments were removed.  That’s an example of what caused me to put up my comments on   my Google Blogger site.

·         You can read my comments there to Mark’s article at Bilerico, Michael K. Lavers’ article at the Washington Blade, those comments that stayed up and those that were removed at the Towleroad site, my posted comment at the Advocate, which was from there, my comment at the ChicagoPride site, and others.  I had also replied to several commenters individually at Bilerico, where were also removed.  I hadn’t put those up on my blog, but since I learned to be careful to same my comments somewhere, I have them in an email/journal if you want to read them.

·         I thought Steve’s emotions were appropriately expressed on GMA. 

·         I was also a member ministry of Exodus International until 2008.  So, we could talk extensively about what the term you used, ex-gay therapy, means.  But you’ve probably assumed as much from the tone of my comments.  I had continued to ask Exodus not to use that phrase, at least in regards to me, since I was never gay in my identity, while almost exclusively attracted sexually only to men since I was in junior high.  So, to be referred to as, ex-gay, was offensive to me.  My sexual attractions haven’t shifted over time, while I know of others who attractions have shifted, some more toward the gay end and others toward the straight end of the Kinsey scale.  So, I tried to ask them to use my created acronym, sga-nga, meaning that I have same-sex sexual attractions (same gender attractions) and that I am non-gay affirming.  Meaning that my identity is that of a Christian who is a man and a male (addressing gender and sex as distinct from each other) who does not want to pursue intimate same-sex sexual behavior.  This is because of my own understanding theologically that same-sex sexual attractions are sinful but same-sex sexual behavior with another man would be sinful for me. 

·         Additionally, if I had decided that for me it would be spiritually correct for me to be in a gay marriage, I would also ask myself to not be sexual with that man until we were married.  Much like what Brian McLaren speaks of and why he officiated at his own son’s gay marriage.  Thus, the challenge that presents itself to me in a growing gay affirming society is this.  That I find many straight and gay and bisexual men attractive - sexually, emotionally, relationally and even romantically attractive at times.  And I understand the vast range today of people’s opinions on this topic.  Of people of faith or people of an interest in simply spirituality, to people of no interest in faith or spirituality.  That they have various parameters that govern their decisions in their lives.  We could talk for hours about terms such as what long-term committed means, what monogamy means, what open relationships mean, and on and on. 

·         I didn’t take the time right now to click your hotlink for “he’s been through ex-gay therapy” to see where you are directing people to.

·         I know that numerous readers of my posted comments to articles about Steve will not want to try to understand what the point is that I am trying to communicate.  I had from the beginning tried to ask my questions of Steve directly, through his Twitter account, and through his Facebook page.  I couldn’t locate an email address, phone number or mailing address.  So, I was pleased when I quickly scanned through your interview article and came to the section where you had asked this question of Steve.  Albeit I don’t think his answer was complete, maybe because of the extent or depth of the wording of that question to him.

·         Yeah, it’s not that I have said it was wrong that Steve worked with Nick who had done porn, but what I saw was wrong was that Steve was having Nick portray that Nick was a straight.  Or, that Nick was straight but definitely already comfortable being kissed by another man.  But I guess, technically, maybe not be another gay man, if Nick is straight and he only does his porn and cam work with other straight guys.  Or, you know what I mean…..  Your article is the first that I have read that actually addressed that Nick had done porn.  So, I’ll read your hotlink of that.  Hummmm…. I hadn’t come across this article at Queer Me Now.  But my point is that Nick, or Taylor, didn’t even just work as a nude model and muscle jock, he also worked for Fratmensucks.  It keeps going back to, for me, the deeper underlying reasons why Steve thought Nick was ideal for the story he wanted to tell. 

·         And I see that they post some of Taylor’s pics of himself.  But as they showed a pic of Steve with an erection, they didn’t show his oral sex pics.  So, one might, just might… still assume from this article that Taylor was a straight model who posed for gay men’s pleasure but drew the line at no kissing other men or engaging in oral sex with other men.  And this article is from, Queer Me Now, where I would have thought they wanted to tell all of the story.  I sensed something about Nick right from the first time I saw Steve’s video.  And I was trying to be as gracious as I could about not thinking that Nick necessarily was anything other than an ever-straight man.  But like Steve talks about his intuition, I was drawn to explore my intuition.  And I wouldn’t have flinched if Steve had just said in his first interviews that Nicholas Alan was Taylor from Fratmen.TV.  And that who Taylor is represented Steve’s unrequited love in AAB.  It would have made complete sense to me.  But to have continued to not communicate that, and my comments being disregarded at GMA, CNN, KiSS 92.5, and the online news sources, well, that’s where the rub is for me.  So, again, I’m glad you just stated it directly here with the supporting references to the link that you provided. 

·         And I didn’t take the time now, to work through the 30 comments to the Queer Me Now article.  I do learn a lot from reading the comments to an article.  So, again, I’m not making any disparaging point about it being inappropriate for Steve to interact with Taylor (Nick), just asking that Steve be honest about it from the get go.  For instance, some people pointed out that they thought the video was trying to portray that Nick was smoking a joint, not a hand rolled cigarette.  I didn’t flinch at that either, and I at first thought, labeled as country, so a hand rolled cigarette…, but then as I thought, this isn’t very country, I also thought, that was probably supposed to be a joint. 

·         Okay, back to your article.

·         A couple of commenters have said to me, “what’s the point,” about who Steve asked to portray this role.  Steve is communicating with you that it is a really big deal to him who portrayed that role. 

·         Since Nick is using the AAB video to promote his own craft, is it hateful journalism for Steve to have also offered that information at some point in time, in other interviews?

·         It is because Steve says he wants to be ever more honest, that I explored this.  It’s not that I want him to be a certain way for my sake; I guess other than to also acknowledge it is really hard to be all the way honest in a society and culture that still through the media, creates you into the image they want to best market you for.  Usually marketing you for their own economic success of readership numbers.

·         I guess you don’t have to worry as much about that if you are just writing a blog….

·         So, Matt, you were not troubled by how Steve portrayed Nick and who Nick is?  Did you think the part was honest about Steve’s video, when you said, “I saw Steve Grand's achingly vulnerable song and video as honest”?

·         I’m glad you used the word, overcome, instead of, cure.  Overcome means so many different things to different people.  Just like the term, healed, or freedom….  I tried to use the phrase, significant change, and to invite people to explore with me what significant might represent for them, and if that could be in some but not all of the areas of same-sex identity, behavior, attractions, romance or orientation.  Or more recently I have used the example of saying that at least Angelina Jolie is comfortable stating that she is bisexual.  And that she is pleased to be in a relationship with Brad.  You don’t hear people calling her a lesbian in the press.  They honor her identity as a bisexual woman who maybe soon, because of the children’s nudging, at least in part, be married heterosexually to Brad. 

·         Actually in regards to Steve’s Catholic faith, the sexual attractions were unwanted.  However he might have thought that the relational and emotional same-sex attractions were not wanted as well.  I think that was what his counselor was trying to offer to him to consider. 

·         I appreciate that you are addressing the idea of identity.  Most writers don’t.  See, I want him to go another step yet, toward being himself.  To tell his story accurately – addressing unrequited love of an openly gay man toward gay men and straight men and bisexual men. 

·         But see, Steve isn’t unapologetically out about what identity or orientation or behavior of a person he is drawn to.  I think he is very afraid to be vulnerable about who Nick is to him.  I’m glad that you are at least beginning to write about it. 

·         I support all the other elements of his role model example to young people- well except to suggest that his counseling experience will cause damage and not be an overall benefit to some people who experience same-sex sexual attractions.  I don’t know why it has to be all one side of the issue or all the other side when a much more honest journalist approach would be to place everyone concerned on their own specific point on the traditional Bell Curve.  I think the better approach is to honor all individuals, whether we are able to accept, respect, or support them.  I don’t want to be asking our gay affirming society to support the sga-nga person, but I do ask and hope that someday our society could at the minimum, accept the sga-nga person, and maybe even respect them. 

·         Again who do we mean when we say gay?  Are we or aren’t we including people who are bisexual, or sga-nga? 

·         Instead of who he is, we could say who Steve had decided to be.  That addresses the concept of identity better.

·         As to Steve’s advisers.  How much input did he get from Nick, and from Nick’s perspective in the video industry?  Right away, the artistic fingerprint of the video suggested to me the tone of straight acting gay-for-pay videos.  That’s what got me to exploring and wondering what input the folks from Pavlov’s Dog LCC had in the video project, since they produce the videos for Fratmen.TV. 

·         Do you think you could help Steve take this next step of honesty?  I think it would especially honor ever-straight men who are comfortable with their openly gay male friends.  I think about Chris Pine and Zach Quinto, as Chris talks about in one of his interview articles, where he sensed on the set that Zach wasn’t ready yet to be all the way open, and Chris really respected him for that, and didn’t pull away at all from Zach. 

·         But I keep feeling like there was some visioning somewhere that said the best way to market Steve wanting to be out as a gay man, would be to market him as a country artist, and then to technically say the first American openly gay country music singer, just to be loosely, technically correct.  Can you see where I get suspicious?  I think you would admit that without the label of country and first country attached to gay music singer, it wouldn’t have gotten the same media coverage.  Steve’s video might, though, have gotten somewhat the same YouTube coverage, at least in the beginning. 

·         I’m glad Steve also emphasized that these were 1.6 million YouTube views, as I sense in the media, they want to redefine that as 1.6 different followers.  I’m sure YouTube probably has an accurate way of determining how many distinct people viewed his video.  Blog sites can do that.

·         Steve says, he wants to do anything he can to honor that bond that he feels he and his fans are already establishing that he holds more sacred than anything.  I hope you can appreciate when I read these ideas from Steve, that I twinge when I think about the almost entirely untold portion of his story.  My wish is that you could help him accomplish this for the trust of people including someone such as myself.

·         I understand struggling to know oneself.  And the process of coming to find one’s identity.

·         Again another caption, “You have to just embrace who you are, and everything that you are.”  It just keeps being put right out there front and center.  “…everything that you are,” Steve says.

·         Again, here where Steve says, “This is a song I’ve been trying to write for a very long time and this is one thing I feel so strongly about.”  I am lead to ask, what specifically is he finally so excited about feeling so strongly about for once?  Unrequited love toward a straight man who won’t reject him if he knows of Steve’s crush on him?  Or unrequited love for his ideal gay male image, who doesn’t love him back in the same way?  These seem like distinctly different stories.  I know Steve is young and still sorting all of this out in his own mind….

·         I’m glad you asked the next question.  “What is the song based on?”  If his story isn’t based on any one person, then again, why the need, or even almost the requirement, that Nick be the one in the video portraying a supposedly straight man?  And I don’t think the Boy Scout experience was necessarily, as I have said, elsewhere, about a same-sex sexual crush.  In other interviews, Steve is not as honest.  Where in your interview with him he is saying it isn’t about any one person.  He suggests that it is a continuation of this experience when he was 13 by the way he gives the information in the other interviews.  But again, I get it, how easy it is for reporters to hear a story with their own world view, no matter what we are trying to say and communicate.

·         What did Steve think this man from Texas thought about who Steve was referring to in telling this message?  I think most everyone thinks that it is about an ever-straight man that Steve has a crush on, and Steve is pleased that the guy stays his friend after he takes the risk or shows his appreciation, depending on how you see the story, after Steve kisses him.

·         Again, I’m glad to see you referencing this next question with the idea of a crush on someone is universal.  For me, I thought the portrayal in the video was of Nick taking the initiative.  Nick is the one who comes over to Steve.  Nick hugs Steve.  Nick rests his head on Steve’s shoulder.  Nick gets naked first.  And all of this is just what ever-straight friends do at times, even when they know that someone like myself will feel like this is inviting or stirring up my sexual desire for them.  It’s just rather natural for many of them.  So, if I hug them too long, or kiss them on the cheek, they then might pause and wonder a bit what my intensions are.  Where from my vantage point, I’m appreciating their freedom to engage with me in this way, even though it’s hard for them to understand all the extra same-sex sexual and relational, emotional, and romantic attractions that are heightened.  Are people writing about this aspect of someone’s experience?

·         I think Steve’s story could have been even more powerful if he had chosen one of his actual ever-straight friends who do respond to him the way he had Nick portraying.  Yet, I think you might have sensed a different vibe from Steve.

·         Again, how much input did Steve solicit from Nick, between the time he met him and the time he planned this video?  He wrote the song after he had met Nick. 

·         Steve hadn’t been in college since he was 19-20, and he is 23 now.  I’m not sure what he means when he told you he took off school to do this.  He says he has been thinking and writing these last 3 years.  I think what he is saying is that he took off school after Freshman year of college to be able to figure out who he is.  And I would restate that as he was spending a lot of time alone figuring who he was going to be.  I think there is a distinct difference between the two.

·         Another question I wanted to have Steve address is this.  Video concept?  Digital Skylight as a production company, has a focus on working like this with their clients.  So, I don’t think that surprised them that Steve so focused on telling story in such a particular way.  Jason Knade most likely understands Steve’s process of wanting to tell this type of story. 

·         So, I’ve already commented on the next question’s answer, so, I’ll skip to the one after that.

·         Ummmm, touching on my point again, what exactly is Steve’s vision?  What is his understanding of who the new All-American Boy is, as he artistically defines him as?  You get the feeling that Steve’s AAB is this confident almost arrogant straight acting possibly gay male who is free enough to do gay porn.  Gosh, I hope that is not actually the main vision Steve has, even if it is Nick’s stated vision of how he sees Steve’s understanding of who the All-American Boy is.

·         Steve and Nick just seem so different in who they are.  It continues to feel like to me that Nick represents what Steve thought he wanted to aspire to.  But as Steve grows more, it might not be what he soon will still aspire to. 

·         I’m glad that his growing up experiences had helped him to want to be smart about this business move.

·         I’m glad that you helped him speak comfortably about who he has chosen to be in terms of financial lifestyle and his hope for his career. 

·         So, if I take Steve at his words, that his friends told him he wasn’t going to fool anyone about his sexual identity, then why is he concerned about what people will now think at the Catholic church(s) he plays and sings at?  Surely some people there were not fooled at least about his same-sex sexual attractions.  However they might not have known about Steve’s sexual identity, or his desired sexual behavior or dating relationships.

·         So, Steve’s desire to put it out there is very similar to the sga-nga individual’s desire.  But the lack of clarity of terminology of organizations such as the now past Exodus organization, or the current subset of it, Restored Hope Network, makes it more challenging for that individual than even for someone like Steve. 

·         Your question about vaguely outing people…  Yes, being self-aware, even about the differences of the types of same-sex attractions is important.  As it is about the various identities that people decide to own.  Uhhhh….   Steve is here again talking about not wanting to fool people.  Gosh, it just feels to me like he has still compartmentalized these two different types of stories, about love toward gay men and love toward straight men.  Again, I get it.  It’s so important to address the things he wants to address that it can be easy to blur another dimension.  I even think that Steve can understand, accept, maybe respect, even if he doesn’t support, the sga-nga individual. 

·         Matt, from your perspective did you see Steve’s modeling pictures as more than just about selling underwear, more than simply about celebrating a beautiful male body?  Did you see images of Steve’s underwear pics as in part, erotically sexually suggestive?  So, there is another pesky word, scandalous.  Even Steve has a particular understanding of what that is for him and Nick has a different understanding.  For, Steve he has said that he draws the line of not having his penis uncovered.  Would you say Nick’s work with Fratmensucks to be scandalous?  What would be scandalous?  Again, so why is it still such a secret to the general public, and I would say to the majority of Steve’s fans, of Nick’s both past and current career endeavors? 

·          Ummmm, Steve isn’t in his video, and in the marketing, wanting to just a little bit to show off his body?  The video seemed to portray that he is.  I continue to say, then just say so.  Eli Lieb is also shirtless in his video, and he goes swimming, and he kisses the man that he has made a connection with.  But there is a difference between what Eli is trying to communicate about showing his body and what Steve is.

·         Yes, even Mark Wahlberg, also Catholic, doesn’t have a lot of shame about his exposure as Marky Mark, except when he will try to explain it to his children someday.  I appreciate how Mark has handled his past career decisions. 

·         However, for some, it depends upon whether their body is portrayed as artful expression or as erotic sexual stimulation.  I’ll agree, Steve’s underwear modeling has me thinking that those pictures are right on the fence between the two.  So, parent’s responses also depend upon intensions in regards to the art we do.

·         Yes, I know.  One article talked about how they needed to work to get Steve to lose 20 pounds of flab, before they could do that photo shoot for DNA magazine.  It’s tough for most models to stay at that level.  However his body image in the video is a current rendition of what Steve looks like.  He might have lost some muscle mass he was 19, but we all agree he is still in pretty good shape.

·         And I think Steve will admit that the pictures have helped in the promotion of his video.  I call that pretty significant. In fact, I doubt whether Steve’s song alone, without the context of the video, would have got much internet music air play time.  The video seems essential for the song’s success.

·         As to the modeling world.  People who understand the world of modeling, wouldn’t assume he made money on the modeling photos…  It goes back to understanding any subject well enough in its context.  Your interview is a good step with that.

·         People who understand the work of modeling photography will understand what Steve is describing. 

·         Matt, you say, “who you were” to Steve.  Can you see how I would say “who he decided to be”?  And as you are asking Steve about his teen years, and not those formative years of grade school.  I note that Steve is talking about high school here and junior high, not grade school.  His parents didn’t know about his same-sex sexual attractions until he was 13.  Generally, not being the cool kids starts well before junior high.  How much of this was about his sexuality.  It’s complex.  Lacking a solid group of friends is also not necessarily about our sexual attractions, although I think that our same-sex relational and emotional attractions are very much at play during out grade school years.  Steve’s statement, “I wished I had someone,” is important.  That this connection with someone didn’t have to be a boy that he had an erotic sexual connection with.  He just needed something much more foundational than that, I think.  And yes, sometimes our same-sex sexual attractions come into this configuration, but they can be unrelated as well.  I think you’d agree.

·         I have found that this same profile that Steve describes that his counselor suggested to him, is what a number of my straight friends also experienced.  The sad part is when we try to make the direct connection between these experiences instead of them possibly being part of the larger set of contributing factors of who we unfold into.  I know I had read and addressed Steve’s next sentence somewhere, maybe from your article being quoted in a different article.  What Steve describes is very much what you would hear as one perspective from the past organization of Exodus.  But Steve would also know that the word, cure, was not used.  And another pesky word, the word, ultimately.  In some Christian circles that could mean later than this lifetime.  I really didn’t understand why he was referring to electroshock therapy that hasn’t been used in therapy of any form for how long now?  Many years.  I guess that is just how urban legends are continued to propagate.  From what Steve described, the counseling sounds so much like what could have been phone counseling and with Joe Nicolosi.  But I’m glad that Steve is protective and does not want to reveal the name of his counselor.  It could have also been someone with the Catholic Church approved organization, Courage.  But they definitely don’t focus on a shift in sexual attractions, but on a celibate chaste response, if the person is not comfortable in what might be a bisexual identity and a heterosexual marriage.  Yeah, another pesky word, bisexual. 

·         The next section is what I have read an article on about a clarification that Steve might have been pressured into giving after what he said here as well in other interview articles, where he said he got a lot out of his counseling.  Let’s see, it would have been 5 years.  I can see how at 23, that does seem like a lot of years ago. 

·         Oh, I see now, your article is what they were quoting, where Steve gave his clarification.  Is Steve saying that he knows the therapy is harmful to all who seek it out?  I don’t think he means to say that.  He seems to want to be more respecting than that.  As I’ve written elsewhere, all counseling is harmful in some ways, as all medical treatment is harmful in some ways.  Vocabulary is so important.  And so challenging.  Even if the end goal of a counselor is not where a client ends up wanting to embrace, the counselor is obligated by law to go in the direction that the client desires.  And if over 4-5 years the client shifts their desired direction, then that is a transition of its own, for both counselor and client.  I appreciate that Steve has his understanding of who he felt God made him to be.  But again, I doubt that Steve would want to put that upon all other boys who experience same-sex sexual attractions to some degree.  It’s very challenging to help someone separate out the difference from the Catholic church position that same-sex sexual attractions are not sinful and their position that any intimate sexual expression outside of a heterosexual marriage would be viewed as sinful.  Lots of ever-straight Catholics disagree with the idea of intimate sexual expression only being blessed that is within marriage.  I’m not so sure that for Steve, that the self-hating process might have started well before his counseling and that his counseling actually helped in reducing this as much as Steve might say that he increased it.  I hope that you and Steve would feel that I desire to be compassionate. 

·         And definitely I respect that you are glad that Steve failed at the part of his therapy that might have just been inviting him to a celibate chaste response.  Or, yes, it might have been suggesting that some shift in sexual attractions might happen.  Sometimes counselors can make direct statements about what is possible and we hear that as what is probable.  I’m not suggesting that I know what was actually said.  I just never said even probable to people in regards to shift in sexual attractions.  But I also could not say a substantial shift wasn’t possible for some.  I think Steve is still talking about areas of self-confidence and yearning for peer acceptance when he refers to good days and bad days.  This can be independent or interdependent upon our sexual attractions. 

·         In fourth grade, it’s not so much about same-sex sexual attractions as it is general peer acceptance and same-sex relational and emotional attractions.  I think you’d agree.  At least for maybe the majority of kids, even those who later would own the identity of gay.  It’s hard to separate out the non-sexual elements from the sexual elements especially in grade school, in that we can assume that the non-sexual elements are driven by the yet to be unfolded sexual elements.  When people have found a significant enough shift in their sexual attractions it can be easy for them to think that this can be the experience for all others.  Harm happens in all directions.

·         How did you, Matt, write such an extensive interview article….?  I’m tired working through it.

·         See, there continues to be so much more to Steve’s childhood story, components that were contributors to his lack of self-confidence, fear of exploration relationally, difficulty in establishing peer friendships.  I don’t see the restrictive pattern of parenting, from Steve’s telling of his life story, to have started only when he was 13.  Other people have a positive experience from the same form of counseling and do not end up desiring to express their sexuality in the same way that Steve did.  His story about preacher’s daughters sounds more like teens going to a large university coming from a sheltered upbringing, independent of sexual identity, orientation, or behavior.  There is a sense that I get that Steve wasn’t able during his formative years to be able to talk freely with his parents.  I find that culturally that is shifting, especially as more fathers are more willing to be emotionally engaged with their children.  I understand the journey that Steve is describing and I am glad that he can verbalize it.

·         How would you, Matt, define the difference between, post-gay era, and a gay affirming culture?  I think our culture is much less welcoming today of the person who desires to investigate to see if enough shift in sexual attractions might be possible in their lives that they can live open, authentic lives, even if their attractions would be defined as bisexual and their sexual behavior as heterosexual.  Or, in this setting, if their identity would be described as straight, or if their orientation is somewhere between the ends of the continuum of gay to straight.  We live in a culture now where, for instance, the pressure is to affirm the same-sex sexual attraction component of a bisexual orientation.  For instance, where it was the opposite a few generations ago. 

·         So, who do we define as gays.  The LGBT community would not include the sga-nga person under gay, lesbian or bisexual.  Yet for the sga-nga person to claim an identity of straight, but an orientation of possibly bisexual and a behavior decision of heterosexual…, well it does get complex.  But somehow, I think Angelina will be able to navigate that, say with her children someday.  So, when Steve talks about wanting to be open-minded, and to not be misunderstood, well….  When he hopes we can be more compassionate for each other.  Would Steve consider the sga-nga person to be gay or straight?  In another way of looking at it, the gays are so hard on other gays, who are not gay affirming, but who are gay, if we are referring to having some level of same-sex sexual attractions.  And even Steve doesn’t bring up the bisexual element.  Does he consider people who would say they are bisexual to be either, actually to him, either gay or straight?  It’s difficult for any one of us to imagine into another person’s life and identity and orientation that is not our own.  I’m merely suggesting that when Steve says that his therapy is harmful, he is doing harm to those whom the same approach was not harmful to.  For instance, for people whose orientation might be partly same-sex in structure, and they found enough shift to be satisfying for them.  Or, to be respectful that the same therapy could even be helpful to another person enough that they made the decision not to be gay affirming, but still very honest about their sexual attractions.  To say, “I don’t know, or I don’t know for sure,” I would say, is a great step to take.  Thus, some people would view my perspective as gay hate.  I work to respect that.  I guess technically you could call their perspective, gay-on-gay  hate as well, depending upon how one would label me.  So, it is what I’m trying to do.  To help Steve out a little bit.  I’m wondering if you’d be interested in assisting me?  Some of Steve’s comments, not many, I’m pleased to say, could feel like they are tearing another fellow same-sex sexually attracted person down – the sga-nga person, for instance.  Yeah, it is tough to be nice….

·         I’m happy for the freedom that Steve feels.  For some people who would say they are openly gay, they would say that because of their faith, they are not going to have sex until after the time of their gay marriage ceremony.  Yes, Steve’s experience is the biggest reason why I think it’s better to walk with someone who is exploring, instead of hoping to restrict them for a portion of their life.  Maybe Steve’s counselor was walking with him more than his parents were, while still being what Steve describes as a straight therapy counselor – I’m sorry, clinical psychologist, to be exact.  But was it the sexual attention that Steve was desiring?  Another pesky word, attention.  And I know that Steve doesn’t really mean to be insulting to the preacher’s daughter who didn’t feel restricted, or controlled growing up, when he uses this statement.  But, again, it is so tough to be nice….

·         Of course Steve cried more in the video process than before in his life.  That’s logical.  And releasing.  And refreshing.  And he had the social space to do it in.  Again, I don’t think Steve is only talking about feelings directly related to his same-sex sexual attractions.  He is presenting a more overall personality disposition, that he thought society and his parents didn’t understand.  I’m pleased to see that Steve understands Erickson’s perspective.  I doubt that Steve was actually told, but my guess is that he thought that he heard, at age 12-13, that his same-sex sexual attractions were wrong.  The Catholic church does not teach this.  It carefully separates out the distinction between attractions and behavior.  But I know even maybe a sizable portion of ever-straight Catholics don’t decide to follow morality parameters that would ask them to be sexually intimate only in a heterosexual marriage.  It’s so easy to translate what we hear into what we think we hear, and Steve thinking he heard that he was going to hell because he experienced some level of same-sex sexual attractions, would be a good example of this.  Another pesky word, it’s.  “It’s wrong….”  What, the behavior or the attractions?  If Steve is talking about what the Catholic church is teaching, then being clear about what he is talking about could be important.  And again, in this culture, so many feelings and ways of relating or not relating to others, is defined as being gay.  It’s easier now than ever before to assume that the emotional and relational connections we feel equate to sexual connections.  Or was Steve hearing the Catholic church teaching that an identity of gay, was what they were referring to as being a sin?  I would ask, needed to change what, in order not to go to hell?  Speaking in Steve’s context of heaven and hell.  As he is talking about it.  The sexual attractions?  The emotional and relational attractions?  You might not agree, but I wonder if Steve in addressing thy dynamic with Nick, that doing that might actually help him with what he speaks about in not being happy as much as he thinks people expect him to be.  And also in accepting himself yet further.  And in regards to letting things go from his past.  You can tell, I think Steve selecting Nick for this role, is part of this whole process he is working through.  And since Steve does express an interest in understanding, from the Erickson perspective, having this type of Q&A coming from someone like yourself, Matt, might feel great to him. 

·         Yup, no country covers….  I smile as I write that.  “…talkative to the crowd,” he said.  I get most excited about hearing this.  And think about this, that all of what it took him to be in such good physical shape, that still didn’t seem to meet the need he was searching for to be met.  My guess is that he might have worked out more individualistically, but I’m just guessing.  Much of this progress happened when he was in high school and his year in college, to be ready for his modeling at 19.  For some boys even openly gay in their identity to their friends, working out with your peers is a big self-confidence booster.  As to voice quality, our current culture doesn’t seem to desire the perfect style of voice as it did for my parent’s generation, yet I get Steve’s concern.  I’m glad you invited Steve to share about his process of becoming comfortable on stage. 

·         Oh boy, you asked about churches still receiving him as an out artist.  Okay….  I sure understand that question coming from Steve’s vantage point.  I’m glad that Steve would have respected a slightly different response from these churches as well.  It’s important for the leadership to think through what it means to be in a music guiding form of leadership position.  My guess is that Steve’s understanding of Catholicism was seen through his lens of his more timid and reserve personality.  Would Steve also be pleased for the openly sga-nga person sitting beside him in the pew?  I’m hoping so.  We can be so focused on the openly gay vantage point, that we are not sensitive to other perspectives.  Or the reverse…

·         Steve was comfortable sharing about his sexual experiences of when he was finally out of high school.  I sure respect that he doesn’t want to share about this area of his life at this time.   

·         I’m glad you asked about what qualities attracted him to a man.  Yup, I’m seeing those things as the things he is seeking to establish with himself.  He accomplished the physical strength portion in high school and kept that up.  I think he is now working to own his tenderness and to use it well.  His confidence may still be the most fragile of these traits that, I think, he desires to strengthen within himself.  While this desire will also attract him to other men who maybe more naturally have those traits.  Yup, talking about Nick also being free.  Expressive even in his video work.  But this leads me to ask again, who is Nick?  This doesn’t have to be toward a gay man that he is attracted to.  These are not qualities that are only to be in a gay dating relationship. 

·         He was in college for only one year.  Sounds like he made a lot of gains in that one year in terms of bulking up.  But again, a big time gap here, between maybe low grade school and the beginning of college.  As to being satisfied.  I would say that some people are never satisfied.  But that some others come to the place where they are satisfied.  However, I sense that this same fascination for your own body is what Nick is still expressing.  That’s why I just don’t see the connection between them other than about what Steve had desired in his life and what he still desires in his life.  I don’t see Nick as Steve’s compliment in a relationship.  So, that’s why it is hard to see Nick portraying Steve’s love interest.  It just doesn’t ring true for me as I see them together in the video.  So again, is Nick merely acting the role Steve asked him to do?  If so, why did Steve need it to be Nick to be that role.  There is more to the story, that maybe even Steve isn’t ready yet to explore and comprehend. 

·         Yup, not at all surprised to hear him say that it is hard for him to keep up his weight, when what I think he means is muscle mass.  Yup, we make choices and decisions about most everything.  Good for Steve that he can mostly relax in this area now.

·         I think it is very solid for him to be able to connect his visual aesthetics with his musical expression.  Both aspects should mutually nurture the other. 

·         How long is this interview article, Matt…?

·         My guess is that this figuring out process for Steve will continue for his entire life.  It seems more about this being his personality to wonder, to explore.  It’s maybe what he was wishing he had been doing since he was very young. 

·         For Steve to have reached Eagle Scout status says that he was able to pour himself into that area as well.  With the right Scout troop, that could have been the experience that addressed some of the elements that he has more recently addressed and is addressing now about male nurturing.  But sometimes there just isn’t the right match up, to address certain emotional and relational connection needs.  It’s so easy if it works for some, to say to others that the same thing should work for them.

·         So, I see we have come to the close.  Your interview has partially addressed a number of key intuitive questions that I had.  It also helped me to better know where the media marketing fit in and where Steve’s own marketing plans fit in.  I have unanswered questions about Nick’s input in the project, but according to Steve here at the end, he would say that it was exactly the way he wanted it.  I can see that what I would define as compartmentalization, for Steve might be an unrestrained outpouring of his personal ultra-investment in his present interests and focuses as he eases back on past consuming areas of focus. 

·         You can tell that I still have unaddressed concerns in terms of general public or general fan understandings of what Steve is communicating.  If you were to engage again with Steve about what it might be that the general fan is perceiving and compare and contrast that to what Steve is thinking that he is communicating and expressing, I believe that would be helpful.  In summary, I would still say that Steve is trying to present two profoundly different stories, and clouding the importance of both.  Our hope is that straight men, or I would say, ever-straight men, (if that clarifies things women.  better, while also confusing things somewhat), would continue to be thanked, and encouraged, and affirmed in respecting their openly gay male friends.  Those gay friends is of course also pertaining to lesbian women and straight women and their interactions with each other.  And I would hope that Steve can  separate that story from what he is yearning for in a potential gay male partner, someone whom will be his compliment and not just his role model and idol.  I believe that there is such a significant difference between our idol and our compliment that I fear without clarification from Steve on this, that he might be encouraging less than healthy dating or partnerships between gay teens and older men as well, who are looking to him as their role model.   

·         Of course, Matt, I’m sure I’m not being adequately clear here on a number of my points.  However, I thought it would be much more constructive to communicate with you, as opposed to trying to post my thoughts as a comment(s) on your blog site.  How long could this email actually be…?

The hotlink to conversion therapy

o   This only takes you to this article at the examiner by Kevin Griffin…

o   So, there isn’t a reference from Wiki to what is defined as conversion therapy

o   Did Matt write two articles for Buzzfeed?  Yes, I’ve email/journaled on one of Matt Bellassai’s articles on BuzzFeed.  After a while it gets confusing to keep it all sorted out when one article quotes sections from another article…. 

(as you can tell, I’ve decided now to post the URL to this section of my email/journal as a comment on your Blog site.  It sure is long……. I hope it might be helpful to some of your readers.)

 Sincerely yours,

Mike Jones