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Thursday, July 25, 2013

My thoughts, mostly about the BuzzFeed article on Steve Grand

This section turned out to be mostly about the BuzzFeed article. 

Because Matt had referenced the article that Matt Bellassai wrote for BuzzFeed, I got on a sidetrack in reading that article when I came to where Matt was referencing it.

*This is also from my email/journal to myself. 

Point by point commentary on Matt’s article on Steve

This is my email/journal capturing my point by point comments and thoughts as I read through a second time, Matt’s article on his interviews with Steve Grand.   

Comments from reviewing Matthew Rettenmund Boy Culture Blog article:

So, this must be the Boy Culture article. 

This article is stating that it was the Buzzfeed article that labeled Steve as “the first openly gay male country star”, when other people also the word, American, to cover themselves in that regards, in relation to Canadian, Drake Jensen.  And this article agrees that Steve is not a country artist.  This article has 25 comments now.  And the article looks so long to work through…. 

It was written on July 21, 2013

First, some points about what the commenters have said:  (see other post for this section) 

Okay, so now, working through the entire interview, beginning at the top:
Points that I am noticing:                                                                        

·         “oldest story in the gay world: falling for a guy who seems to feel the same way, but who ultimately does not”

o   But is that what Steve is communicating?  I don’t think so, at least not to the general public seeing his video.  Judging by the comments to articles that have been written, approximately 95% of the commenters think that Steve is suggesting that Nick is representing a straight man.  Do you think Nick would consider himself a straight man?  And if he does, does not his gay porn work suggest that he is something more than what people would think Steve is portraying as a straight man in relation to the point about not being rejected?  Again, Steve is the one saying Nick fits the bill perfectly.  And Steve doesn’t address if the girl Nick was with when the met in Miami, was someone he was interested in romantically, or sexually, just a friend or a professional business person in the same industry as Nick.  I just feel Steve continues to be so careful about exactly what he says and what he doesn’t say.  And we learn to do that so well, when we are younger, trying to cover something very significant in our life, so that others will not discover. 

o   Matt, at least you are the first writer I have encountered that is saying Steve is telling a gay story, likely about him falling for another gay man.  A man who is straight acting, who might seem to be attracted to Steve in the same way Steve is to Nick, but who ultimately does not feel the same way.  Meaning Nick does not want to make out with Steve.  This is the actual story, am I correct?  Steve is trying to make it appear as though Nick is what I would term an ever-straight man – someone who has never up to the present, engaged in same-sex sexual behavior.  This is so far from the truth. 

o   So, I wonder if Matt will be willing to consider what I am describing.  The focus of my concern is that Steve is not purposely or is purposely deceiving people.  That he is not telling the actual story, when he gives interviews.  And is not portraying the actual story in the video itself.  Yes, of course we will all read into the video our own story, however, what is the honest starting point that the video’s story is coming from? 

·         I had not read this Buzzfeed article by Matt Bellassai: 

·         So, I’ll diverge and read this particular article and see if it communicates something different than what I have read in other articles, such as by the Huff Post, Towleroad, The Backlot, Bilerico, ChicagoPride, and the radio interview on KiSS 92.5 Toronto and the TV interviews on GMA and CNN. 

·         Points from this article that were new to me:

o   “Totally honest and totally who you are” (but I don’t feel he is honest about who Nick is)

o   “Pop-country”  (that’s different from country)

o   See, they say, for a straight man.  Referring to Nick.  (how will the general public understand a man who does gay-for-pay porn as what they think of as a straight man? 

o   “The story based on Steve’s own experience” (but does that mean that Steve is telling a story about desiring a gay-for-pay male who might act straight, or about Steve having a crush on a straight man who isn’t experienced at kissing other men, or for that matter, doing oral sex with them?  Which story is Steve wanting to tell?  I keep saying, just be honest.  Let people know what story this video is about.  I know that this is hard to do.  I’m not opposed to straight guys who do gay-for-pay porn.  There is a market for that in the gay community. 

o   How is the story, relatively innocent?  What story is he telling?  The story about the gay-for-pay man isn’t so innocent. 

o   Is his concern about his church and what they will think about the same-sex content of him in the video or about Nick and Nick’s gay porn work? 

o   Are they saying that Steve came out fully enough that his Catholic church already knew he was gay?  What does the article mean by, officially? 

o   Remember, Steve’s modeling policy is that he won’t show his penis uncovered.  So, only showing his backside is consistent with his policy.  So, his nakedness is not the same as Nick’s work in terms of nakedness, where he does gay oral sex.

o   “…where there is no room to be anything but totally honest about who you are,” Steve says.  Maybe but definitely he is not honest about who Nick is.  That’s the rub for me.  Steve making the point that Nick is not uncomfortable with Steve kissing him.  That’s where the question key question comes in of is this just a story of a past event or of current people’s lives?  Again, back to how Steve knew that he just had to have Nick portray this role. 

o   “Just my true, raw self.  I’m putting it all out there,” Steve says.  But I contend that Steve isn’t doing that.  He chose Nick knowing or having the ability to know that he was Taylor in Fratmen.TV and Fratmensucks.  And if not, Steve sure knew shortly after the video came out, with people tweeting him and Taylor in the same tweet.  That Nick as Taylor, had worked for Fratmen and now for Gayhoopla and GAYCAMGUYS.  I began, just asking this simple clarifying question about Nick.  Matt, I’m glad you had asked Steve, “Why did you select Nicholas Alan to be in your video?”  What is Steve’s chemistry with Nick?  It appears to me to only be a crush.  Are they friends?  Is Nick only an actor for a role?  What would Nick say is his orientation vs. behavior vs. identity?

o   So, again, I’m just asking Steve to just put it all out there.  Like he says he wants to do.  Sure that’s tough work, and will take time and is a process.  Maybe Matt, you are the right person to help Steve do this. 

o   And I think it is great that the video gets views from a whole range of people.  But what exactly are they identifying with?  Steve says that we all have felt unrequited love for someone one in our life.  I agree.  Yet, is Steve talking about unrequited love for another gay man, or a straight man, or a man who is straight but who also does gay porn?  Or all of those.  I know art isn’t supposed to be so precise.  Yet in interviews, Steve seems to want to be clear and explain things.

o   Matt, when you read through Steve’s answer to your question again:

§  I met Nick kind of by accident when I was in Miami, actually. This was a couple years ago. He was with a girl and I was with my friend and we really hit it off and I just knew in that moment, “I need to use him for one of my videos to tell this story.” Nick just so perfectly embodied the story I was trying to tell and was just that guy, I just felt like he was so perfect. I’m a very intuitive person, and there was no question who I would’ve used to make that video—it was Nick. Everything had to be my way [laughs] because  he just was right and I knew it in my gut.

o   What do you take Steve’s answer to mean?  And what does Steve mean by, “kind of by accident,” as opposed to purely by accident?  It’s all back to those very carefully placed words.  If they really hit it off, did that mean that Steve and Nick continue to be friends, socialize, communicate, as is suggested in the video?  Or, as I wonder, was Nick an actor portraying a role, but that role he was playing for Steve was not the same role Steve wanted his audience to see?  I totally get how we work so carefully to say things just the right way, to say something, but to not say something else.  I just don’t think this helps what Steve is actually trying to do.  Unless he is trying to boldly say that his idea of what the new All-American Boy is, is a straight acting man who does gay porn (as Nick is marketing himself as being the All-American Boy.  What is the story Steve is wanting to tell?  That Steve’s feelings are for a straight acting male who may be gay or might not be gay.  Or would Steve say he wanted to portray his crush as a man who is bisexual, who is comfortable enough with himself that he can do gay porn and cam work now with USACAMGUYS). 

o   As I’ve said in other places, this just does such a disservice to all the ever-straight, (if you will) men who are comfortable enough with their openly gay male friends that they will not push them away even if their gay male friends make a pass at them, or want to show their appreciation or affection for them by kissing them, or being close to them physically. 

o   Steve could have done that in his video, simply by asking one of his ever-straight male friends who already do love him as their friend, who know that he is gay, and who will react as Nick reacts in the video to Steve’s kiss.  He didn’t need Nick to portray this – or did he.  Is any of his straight friends that comfortable with him, yet, that they could do this?  I guess that is the question.  Is Steve’s story about what he yet yearns for, or what he already experiences?  It just keeps being blurred. 

o   And I get it, that music and music videos are art.  I’m all for art being thought provoking, inspiring, suggesting, leaving things open to interpretation.  But that just doesn’t jive with Steve’s stated goals of what he wants to tell through the video and how he wants to be all the way honest. 

o   Hummm, back to the rest of the Buzzfeed article.  Again, as I have written elsewhere, Steve is not necessarily talking about a homosexual desire when he was 13.  Those longings for a role model, for a person who sees us needing that extra care and attention and willingly offers it – they aren’t necessarily gay.  They could well be just same-sex emotional and relational attractions that all men have.  And of course I know that for some men, they later discover a sexual desire for other men.  But those feelings for those role model individuals in our lives do create an achy feeling, a deep longing, when we are no longer in their presence in that highly focused way, such as what we can experience at a Scout camp setting. 

o   I think Steve’s story is about that same longing for what he sees in Nick, that he also cannot have with Nick.  And that is not a strictly gay male story, that is everyone’s story.  So, in that I agree with Steve.  I just think our society has grown to the place where Steve didn’t need to carefully deceive or mislead people in order to tell that story. 

o   I didn’t know that his parents had discovered an incriminating AOL IM.  But as Steve tells his story in other interviews, his parent’s concerns for him to be exposed to movies and (I’ll have to look up again all that Steve referenced in regards to these parenting limits), this concern began years before this AOL IM discovery.  Yes, I understand how his parents, with this pattern of restricting his exposure to numerous elements of the larger society, would then also later apply that same approach to being afraid of him acting out with other boys. 

o   In his other, clarification interview comment to the Boy Culture interview, Steve goes on to say that his counseling wasn’t Exodus.  Hummm, I understand Exodus as an organization, and that is exactly the phrase that is used – unwanted same-sex attraction.  That’s why I always try to say, same-sex sexual attractions, and define those as being distinct from same-sex relational, or emotional attractions.  And that same-sex romantic attractions can be distinct as well.  Just to say same-sex attractions, is just as unclear as the term, straight, or the term, gay, or often, the term bisexual. 

o   And I also continue to say that his counseling sounds so much like Joe Nicolosi’s terminology that he uses.  And that would have been a phone counseling format.  But Steve, rightly, doesn’t reveal his counselor’s name, but when he said it wasn’t Exodus, then I was somewhat confused.  But Steve was trying to connect electroshock treatment with Exodus in that statement. 

o   It is a huge challenge to speak clearly and accurately when trying to address these subjects.  I appreciated how you, Matt, responded to Kevin Griffins.  He would be an example of what makes it more difficult to be able to communicate clearly and be understood accurately.  Yet, I also did understand the overall point he was attempting to make, that Steve is also using his buff physique to help market his music and his video.  But that’s just MTV 101, in my eyes. 

o   “I couldn’t live with myself if I wasn’t true and honest.  That’s what people deserve.  People don’t deserve a lie.”  Steve says this and it is highlighted as a caption in the article.  I want to help him actually do this.  I don’t think he realized just how tall of an order he set before him when he expressed that statement. 

o   But what specifically is the ache and pain that he has felt most of his life.  I have said before, I think he is blending two stories into one.  1.) His desire to not be rejected by straight men and 2.) his desire to not be rebuffed by a gay man that he crushes on.  I wish he didn’t blend both stories.  They are both very important and distinct in many ways from each other. 

o   Who are Steve’s advisers that the writer here, Matt Bellassai, is referring to?  See, I think Steve is still doing precisely what these friends and advisers were suggesting that he do.  By his deception of who Nick is, he is appealing to that wider audience.  I wish for him that the complete truthfulness of his story will eventually be the message he is sending to people. 

o   I’m amazed as I read through this article, how other articles have told not quite the same story.  It’s a long interview article, as yours is with Steve.  So, I am trusting that you have the endurance to read through this lengthy commentary. 

o   So, I would interpret that Steve means that he didn’t talk with his parents about the results or progress of his counseling and that he didn’t talk with them about his decision to be openly gay affirming after he finished high school. 

o   The term, “I’m gay” means so many different things, as you well know from your years of writing on related topics.  Gay might mean, in a Catholic context, even for a Catholic priest, that they experience same-sex sexual attractions but for them because of their commitment to being a priest, they have chosen to be celibate, and are or would like to become chaste as well.  A tall order.  So, for instance and for example, when I hear a Catholic priest say they are gay, I know not to assume what they mean by that.  Kevin Griffin wasn’t allowing himself the emotional space to even begin to understand something like this.  I felt, from reading the various comments about your article, that you might be. 

o   I think that parents feel that same thing about many things that we express, especially in the arts.  I understand Steve’s and his mother’s tears.  It just doesn’t sound like Steve is very affectionate with other men yet, at least around his mother. 

o   I understand how his mother can say that she has come a long way.  I hope Steve will respect his church, if to be consistent with their theological understanding, that they might not feel as comfortable in Steve providing his same role that he has before.  They also need to have the freedom to express their perspectives, but to do it graciously and respectfully. 

o   “…true and honest.”  I see Steve saying those words so many times.  I guess that’s what prompts me to press my concern.  For his own stated goal of being true and honest – in regards to Nick.  I do hope Steve will accept that people will have to process things further when they understand and realize Nick’s work in gay web media.  And for them to process in their minds what these two separate stories are that Steve has blended together. 

o   Ah, almost to the end…

o   Steve says, “it just means that person that you love, and that you idealize, and that person you ache for. There are guys who sing along to Taylor Swift songs, and I don’t understand why they can’t sing along to my song. To me, there’s really no difference. It’s a story about longing.”  I say, then let them, by being more honest.  Like it is a surprise to anyone that gay men can enjoy straight acting gay porn?  That they might be attracted to straight or straight acting men who portray those qualities.  I don’t think our society would have shifted this quickly without more gay men appearing more straight acting and more lesbian women appearing more feminine.  Yet, there will continue to exist in the gay community a broad range of people’s expressions of themselves as there are in any subset of the overall population. 

o   Again, is Steve himself, talking about the person he loves, that he idealizes, the person he aches for – is that man a gay man, a straight man, a bisexual man or a man who is still in the process of some sense of shift?  Is Nick in some state of shift himself?  Consider the basic format of Fratmen.TV, who Nick has worked for before, before now joining up with USACAMGUYS and Gayhoopla (or Taylor as is his stage name or DocTayTay as is his twitter handle).  This format is well explained at the Wiki site for them, where many of the men progress to more intimate sexual behavior in the different sites.

o   I hadn’t known that Steve had been a janitor, which I happen to think is also a worthy profession.  I also didn’t know that he worked at a gay bar.  So, there are a number of new elements I am learning from reading this article.  But again, if you are going to do modeling for gay male underwear, you’ve got to expect some extra attention if you work at a gay bar.  Come on….  Steve says, “…all that matters to me is that I’m putting out real art into the world.”  I’m asking him to allow his music and video art to be that extra step of being completely real, even about Nick.  Even if that includes honoring Nick and the work that he is doing.  Nick isn’t hiding his work as he is personally using AAB to promote his art. 

o   Yes, I get it: a sigh of relief that he won’t even remotely try to do country music.  I also had trouble with Steve’s reasoning with his idea that he could maybe consider his song as country, because country music tells a story.  I thought that Steve was implying that a person’s story is not told as well in other genre of music.  But then again, I’m asking a lot of someone who is only 23.  I know.  That’s why I’ve been hoping to find the right person who can help Steve address some of these concerns that I have.  It isn’t to harm him.  It’s to help him and everyone else who experiences any level of same-sex sexual or romantic or emotional or relational attractions – hummm….., maybe that is all of us. 
(so, the next post that I will put up will be my email/journal commenting on the rest of Matt's Boy Culture Blog article)