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‘All American Boy’ Singer, Songwriter Steve Grand Is Turning Heads And Minds

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Guest author Sean Sala’s exclusive interview with singer-songwriter Steve Grand, whose “All American Boy” music video went viral this summer — turning heads, and minds.

It was a cool October night in San Diego as music fans began to pour into Urban Mo’s Bar & Grill. The red carpet was rolled out as fans eagerly awaited a new internet sensation by the name of Steve Grand — whose hit track “All American Boy” went viral in July.

Normally, internet sensations come and go shortly after their fifteen minutes of fame. Steve, however, has done something that truly is remarkable. For the longest time, music that appealed to the LGBT community, what some might call “gay music,” has been defined by the likes of modern pop divas like Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and many others. All of these artists typically use wild pop imagery and powerful voices that gay men have found solace in and reconciled their personal feelings with. Up to this point, we gay men have been defined by divas but we might have found a new course to be defined by, thanks to the bravery of a simple Illinois boy who honestly shared his story.

I have worked as an LGBT activist for almost three years, which is not a long time compared to many other activists. However, in this short amount of time, I initially gained national attention through my organizing of the Military March at the 2011 San Diego Pride Parade. Then that following year at the 2012 Uniformed Military March where we fought hard to allow the Pentagon to certify uniforms in an LGBT parade for the first time in history. I clearly remember the immense pressure put on me by this. It was a tough few years being in the public spotlight and it almost broke my commitment to the cause all together. I say all of this not to highlight myself — but to really compare this mixed pot of our civil rights.

Everyone plays a role, and the artist becomes woven into an activist. Whether he liked it or not, Steve Grand has been thrust into the national spotlight for his honesty and for taking a stand. Who would have known that when Steve sat down to write “All American Boy,” he actually was writing a new chapter in the artistic direction of the LGBT movement? We may have much different lots in life, but it takes a village as they say. It takes activists, parents, siblings, teachers and artists to see the LGBT equality movement come to fruition. Some would say Grand’s hit is just another song or that he is just a “pretty gay boy” — but what he did thorough his music was significant. For decades, art has defined the course of a people and the course of a nation. Pop culture shapes how the next generation defines the way they love and who they love. This is also why we frequently see the religious right raging against the LGBT cause.

They fear we will define the future. Steve Grand has pushed against the gender code stereotype in our society, and in the music industry where homophobia still dominates much of the charts. In “All American Boy” we see a handsome guy fall in love with his straight best friend. This friend defines the new generation in his acceptance of his friend, all on the backdrop of a rural country scene where that is “not supposed to happen.”  

 The video hasn’t been free of criticism though. Some have viewed the part of the video where Steve is rejected by his straight best friend as controversial, tagging this as just a “gay boy chasing a straight boy” like “gay boys do” — which could cast gay men in a negative light. The bigger picture shows something more positive. We all have had that story and have been there. For gay youth, high school and being a young adult without a proper education about the LGBT community can be so confusing to a student, through fear of rejection. Yet the image we see here indicated an amazing generational shift. Upon the kiss the moment of embarrassment commences yet the straight best friend tells him, “I love you anyway.” The “straight-bro” culture likes to pretend that these incidents do not happen, but they do.

Need I mention the many moments that the straight boy kissed back? We as gay men know those stories all too well. Yet in the end the straight best friend not only accepts him, but he affirms his commitment and love to his friend. This is a wonderful sign of the times. I searched for further clarification on how Steve feels about this particular criticism and his response was nothing but graceful and genuine. “When I made that video,” Steve told me, “I did not set out to make any statements about gay people other than what we share in common with our straight brothers and sisters — that sometimes you love someone you can’t have. I know that especially rings true for gay people who grow up in a heterosexual world.”

It is good to note as well that in Steve’s second premiere music video “Stay” he “gets the guy” and celebrates a gay relationship emotionally, physically and sexually. He portrays it in true Grand form: wholesome, genuine and with a hit musical style.

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I had a few moments to chat with Steve at his October 19 performance at Urban Mo’s. Here’s what he had to say:

Sala: Steve, I understand the first stop on your “All American Boy Tour” was San Diego for Indie-Fest. Is that correct?

Grand: That was the first place outside of Chicago, yeah.  (Grand’s home town.)

Sala: I saw Lady GaGa at the House of Blues in San Diego for the first time with a crowd of about seventy-five people before she achieved super-stardom. It seems San Diego has great luck in making people famous! Tell me though, you were at the GLSEN awards in LA performing in front of a lot of prominent activists last night. How does your music correlate with Spirit Day and anti-bullying?

Grand: Well I think it’s just exposure. Just showing kids another example of gay people just being like everybody else. I am an artist just like everyone else and I express myself in a way just like any other artist. So I think it’s a matter of showing kids you can be whoever you want to be and you can be your full self. That you can find people and an audience that embrace you and make a career from that. I hope to continue to prove that.

Sala: In 2013 there still is a lot of bullying going on. It’s a lot more acceptable to be gay now than it even was in the 1990’s and the early 2000’s. I know that even when you were growing up it was not the most acceptable thing. What do you feel like as an artist, you can do to raise awareness about bullying and being yourself besides the music?

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Grand: Besides the music… Well, I was at GLSEN last night to support that cause. It’s something I hold very near and dear to my heart. GLSEN is all about anti-bullying and LGBT youth. Being out there, being yourself first and foremost is the greatest thing any of us can do.

Sala: I’m glad you said “being yourself.” I’ve noticed that a lot of “gay” artists do the “gay” thing. The reason why you’ve received so much publicity is because you’ve showed a wholesome “country” love story. You portrayed something that is needed, something that changed culture – making images like that the “norm.” So I think that’s pretty impressive. You used art to portray the greatest message you can: that love is the most important thing. So, how do you feel to be performing here tonight?

Grand: I’m stoked to perform here. San Diego was good to me last time and also love the fact that there is a sold out crowd. I do love San Diego. I’ve been here a couple of times and it seems really chill, laid back and everyone seems really nice. I know I have a lot of #Grandfams here that I have connected with through Twitter and Facebook and a lot of them are excited to meet them.

Sala: Well the last big performance here at Urban Mo’s was when the top three contestants for Ru Paul’s Drag Race were here so you’re in good “shoes.”

Grand: (Laughing) Excellent!

Sala: Well it was very nice to meet you tonight and everyone is looking forward to your concert. Thank you for taking a stand for gay youth.

Grand: Thank you very much. I appreciate that.

Keep an eye out on Steve Grand and his artistic talent of uniting hearts and minds in music! He is one of the most prominent LGBT artists we have seen in some time! Keep it up Steve!  

 

A version of this article originally appeared at TalkHillcrest Images by Joem C. Bayawa. Used with permission.

 

_The Great Reconciliation__ Gays take on Ex-Gay Inc. on Our America with Lisa Ling - Google Drive-1Sean Sala is a national gay, social and sexual rights activist. He was the organizer of the 2011 Active Duty Military March in San Diego in which over 250 active duty Military marched in San Diego Pride while Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was still national law. He also was an organizer and liaison for the 2012 Active Duty Military March in which he pressured top Military brass resulting in the Pentagon issuing a historical first time blanket certification and approved the United States Military to wear their full uniforms for the first time in a pride parade in US history; where over 450 military personnel participated. He formally was on the national leadership committee of  Servicemembers United the nations largest LGBT military organization, where he participated in a White House Executive office meeting on Southern California and Gay Military issues. He has sparred in national news against anti-gay Republican Congressman opposed to Gay troops. He also advocated for troops battling PTSD to the San Diego City Council. He has been featured on the ‘Real World,’ MTV and sponsored internet casts on gay rights, local, national and international news and an official Library of Congress documentation on the DADT repeal movement for Story Corps. He is in progress of challenging the top ten Mega Churches in United States to denounce Uganda’s Parliament from executing gays. He was the chief organizer of the San Diego rally “Light the Way to Justice.” demanding the Supreme Court to rule for full federal marriage equality.  He is a popular blogger, columnist for San Diego Gay and Lesbian News and a featured guest writer for The New Civil Rights Movement. He has also been featured in “God and Gays,” an expose on gay reparative therapy with Lisa Ling. He also led a coalition to combat radical extremists from forcing a dangerous agenda on the LGBT community using the figure of Bradley Manning. He also has Co-formed the “Military Freedom Coalition” to challenge the Transgender ban in the Military. Recently he lead a coalition that called out the San Diego County Clerk who tried to stay Gay marriage state wide in a last ditch attempt to stop Gay Marriage in California.  He served in the United States Navy six years for Naval Intelligence, three combat tours and is an Iraq war Veteran – currently he is on staff for the St. Paul’s Foundation for Reconciliation, combating LGBT hatred spreading across the continent of Africa.” 

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‘Scared to Death’: GOP Ex-Congressman Brings Hammer Down on ‘Weak’ Trump

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Amid Republicans – including Donald Trump – claiming over the weekend Iran would never have attacked Israel if Donald Trump were president, and saying Trump never got America into a war, Republican former U.S. Congressman Adam Kinzinger blasted the ex-president and his allies while serving up a series of damning facts and urging them to stop “rewriting history.”

“It’s really easy not to get in a war, if you just surrender everything,” Kinzinger said Sunday evening in what he called an “emergency” video (below). He called the ex-president now on day one of the first criminal trial of any former U.S. president, “the worst foreign policy president of my generation,” and “a week, small, tiny man who was scared to death.”

Kinzinger has strong bona fides to back up his remarks. He is a Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Air Force, where he has served since 2003. (He reportedly is no longer on active duty, but is a member of the Air National Guard.) He fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. In Congress, he served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, on the Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa, and International Terrorism, and was the Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment.

He praised Trump for killing Qasem Soleimani, a top Iranian commander who was deemed “Iran’s second most powerful man.”

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“That was a good hit,” he said, before reminding Americans what happened after that.

“Iran responded by launching a whole bunch of missiles at a U.S. base in Iraq. A hundred soldiers were injured with traumatic brain injuries. Remember, Donald Trump said, ‘Oh, they’re just some headaches?’ Yeah, not to those people. It’s serious.”

“How did we respond to that missile barrage against our base? We did nothing,” Kinzinger lamented.

“Do you remember when they shot down a 100 million something dollar drone, which by the way, is not like a little drone? It’s about the size of an airliner. And we responded by – oh, that’s right: Trump did nothing. Do you remember when they attacked the Saudi oil field with a massive barrage? Trump responded by, that’s right: he didn’t do anything.”

“Do you remember when he said we were going to leave the Kurds behind? Remember when he kept talking about leaving Syria and leaving Syria to Iran? Yeah, let’s be clear about Donald Trump. I have my disagreements with this administration. But let’s quit pretending Donald Trump was anything but the worst foreign policy president of my generation, because he was.”

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“He gave Russia everything they needed. He gave Iran everything they needed, And basically was just absolutely surrendering American interests around the world.”

“Yeah, it’s really easy not to get in a war, if you just surrender everything, so let’s quit rewriting history on Donald Trump became he was not some master of foreign policy, he was a week, small, tiny man who was scared to death.”

Watch below or at this link.

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‘By Design’: Johnson Falsely Claims Democrats Are Trying to Turn ‘Illegals’ Into Voters

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Embattled Republican Speaker of the House Mike Johnson traveled nearly 1000 miles on Friday afternoon to appear with Donald Trump in a live joint press conference at Mar-a-Lago to promote legislation banning non-U.S. citizens from voting, which has been a federal law, and a felony, since 1997.

But Johnson used the event to attack Democrats, falsely accusing them of a conspiracy to increase the number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. for the direct and distinct purpose of pushing them to vote illegally in U.S. elections.

The Speaker offered no proof of the existence of this conspiracy.

“We only want U.S. citizens to vote in U.S. elections,” Johnson said, standing next to Trump (video below), “but there are some Democrats who don’t want to do that. We believe that one of their designs, one of the reasons for this open border, which everybody asked all around the country, why would they do this? Why would they allow all this chaos? Why the violence? Because they want to turn these people into voters.”

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Non-citizens voting in a U.S. election is punishable by deportation, massive fines, and/or numerous years in prison.

“Right now the administration is encouraging illegals to go to their local welfare office to sign up for benefits,” Johnson, one of the top election deniers in the country, claimed as he explained his conspiracy theory. He did not state how the Biden Administration is communicating with undocumented immigrants, nor did he offer proof of these communications.

He also did not state that the vast majority of undocumented immigrants are ineligible for any government welfare program.

“Well, guess what? When you go to a welfare office, they also ask you if you would like to register to vote, and so many people, we think are going to do that.”

Again, Johnson offered no proof of undocumented immigrants doing that, and in fact, as the Brennan Center for Justice reported just this week, that is not happening.

“States have multiple systems in place to deter noncitizen voting. Those who violate the law face prison time and deportation,” the Brennan Center reported.

If you were undocumented, the Brennan Center asked, “Would you risk everything — your freedom, your life in the United States, your ability to be near your family — just to cast a single ballot?”

Johnson went on to state, “there’s so many millions of illegals in the country, that if only one out of 100 voted, they would cast potentially hundreds of thousands of votes in the election. That could turn an election.”

It could, but it isn’t happening.

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“President Biden has created a catastrophe and he did it by design,” Johnson alleged. “Why invite everybody from around the world to come here, including hardened criminals and dangerous persons?”

Neither President Biden nor his administration invited “everybody from around the world to come here,” but what if he did? Why shouldn’t he, if America is the greatest country on earth, why shouldn’t the President invite, urge people from other countries to lawfully come to America, the land of opportunity, the land of the free, the home of the brave, where immigrants have been called the “backbone” of the nation.

Federal laws can help keep “hardened criminals and dangerous persons” out, and federal border agents could do a better job if Donald Trump had allowed a vote on the Senate bipartisan border bill.

Johnson also claimed that immigration “has all sorts of terrible effects on the American people. We know that fentanyl is the leading cause of death for Americans aged 18 to 49.”

Most of the fentanyl flooding the country is smuggled in by Americans, not “across the border” but through U.S. ports of entry. Nearly nine out of ten fentanyl smugglers are U.S. citizens, according to the right wing Cato Institute.

Watch a portion of Speaker Johnson’s remarks below or at this link.

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‘Staged Photo Op’ of Trump With Black Chick-fil-A Patrons Was ‘True Retail Politics’ Says Fox News

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As Donald Trump continues to try to make inroads with Black voters, his allegedly spontaneous viral visit to an Atlanta Chick-fil-A on Wednesday came at just the right time for the indicted ex-president as the patrons and staff, mostly young Black women, appeared to gush over him.

Fox News went wild over the encounter, calling it a “surprise visit.

Video showed Trump casually declaring in the middle of the restaurant, with his arms opened wide, “Let me give you a hug,” and a young woman running over into his arms.

“Fox & Friends” co-host Lawrence Jones the next morning called it, “such an organic moment because you had all these people that obviously knew the president was there but were Trump supporters as well. Minorities.”

Jones then painted the stark “contrast” between President Joe Biden’s State Dinner with the Prime Minister of Japan on Wednesday evening, and the ex-president who just happened to walk into a Chick-fil-A and ordered 30 milkshakes. Jones appeared agitated by the Biden State Dinner, saying, “You got the current president, the ‘smoozing,’ State Dinner, you got the Clinton – why does another former president have to do a State Dinner with the current president? I think that’s strange.”

But it had not taken long for some to say it seemed staged.

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“The odds of Trump walking into a Chick-Fil-A in a big city like Atlanta, and every single customer in there just happening to be a supporter, are infinitesimally small. The whole thing was obviously staged to ensure that only his supporters were inside,” observed the social media account for The Palmer Report just hours after the Chick-fil-A visit took place.

MeidasTouch Network on Friday reports, “Trump’s Viral Hug At Chick-fil-A Was With a MAGA Operative,” and notes the woman Trump supposedly spontaneously hugged, Michaelah Montgomery “is a ‘political consultant’ and former Georgia GOP intern.”

Former CNN commentator Keith Boykin, the co-founder of the National Black Justice Coalition, wrote: “I knew it! Trump’s Chick-fil-A stop was a staged photo op with Black Republican supporters. Michaelah Montgomery, the Black woman who told Trump that ‘we support you,’ actually runs a conservative group and worked with Candace Owens’s Blexit Foundation.”

Ron Filipkowski, editor-in-chief of MeidasTouch, explained, “Just like his fake union rally & lie about calling Ruby Garcia’s family, the Trump excursion to Chick-fil-A was a staged op with a political consultant who has done work with the GOP, Charlie Kirk & Candace Owens’ orgs.” Linking to their report, Filipkowski, an attorney and former Republican calls it a “pattern of fraud.”

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The liberal PAC PatriotTakes reposted a Trump campaign video, added screenshots, and wrote, “These Trump photo ops are pre-staged with supporters prior to his arrival.”

Despite all this evidence, Friday afternoon Fox News continued to hype the two-day old “viral” event, with host John Roberts telling viewers, “That was a true retail politics moment there. Biden goes in to get ice cream, he grabs himself a double scoop and walks out. Trump goes in and buys everyone lunch.”

Watch the videos above or at this link.

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