“10 years ago there was no way you could be LGBTQ and in country music.”
Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images
The face of country music is changing as LGBTQ country fans are finding representation in the genre.
Singer Brandon Stansell is leading that change by being open and honest about his sexuality. “10 years ago there was no way you could be LGBTQ and in country music,” Stansell said in an interview with GOOD, adding he felt like “an island” growing up as an LGBTQ country music fan in Tennessee. “There was never a question that I was going to not talk about who I was.”
Stansell got personal with his new single “Hometown.” In the video for the song, Stansell is depicted coming out to his mother played by Janet Ivey.
The video isn’t an exact recreation of what happened to Stansell, but captures the emotion of his real-life events. “I was really nervous with how we were doing that but I think it came out exactly right,” he said.
Stansell, who comes from a strict Southern Baptist family, came out when he was 22.
“When I decided to be honest with who I was, I knew they wouldn’t take it well, and they didn’t.”
The events hit him hard. “I didn’t really know if things would ever get better. I found myself in a depressed place. Thanks to friends I was able to pull myself up and out.”
But at the end of the day, Stansell is grateful for how far he’s come. “We go through these life-changing experiences thinking we’re going to be crippled from them, and we’re never going to get better,” he said. “It changed my life in a fundamental way, but I’ve grown so much since that experience. It made me a stronger better person.”
Stansell was nervous putting this story out there, but the reception for “Hometown” has been nothing short of positive, and Rolling Stone even named it one of the best country music videos of 2018.
“I didn’t get the push back I thought I would,” he said. The singer says he’s even had fans reach out to him saying their parents have finally been able to talk to them and accept them thanks in part to the video.
The ending of the Hometown music video ends on a message of hope. Stansell is shown opening the door to his now accepting mother, greeting her with a hug.
“I wanted to end it with hope. Hope not only for myself, but hope for others,” he said. “I wanted to end this video with the idea that the door is always open.”
Still Stansell acknowledged that coming out stories don’t always have quick and perfect endings. “I think a lot of parents of LGBTQ kids are a product of their upbringing,” Stansell said.
But Stansell is leaving his own open door. “I love my parents and always will. We don’t agree on a lot of things, but my hope is that those lines of communications stay open and that there are conversations we can have, because that’s the only way things can get better.”