Graphic by Kit
If you became a child star, how different do you think your life would be? In the sixth grade, Greyson Chance posted a cover of “Paparazzi” by Lady Gaga and rose to fame in a matter of weeks. He went on The Ellen Show and signed with Ellen DeGeneres’ record label. He put out his first studio album, Hold On ‘til the Night, in 2011, which gives off an old-Justin-Bieber vibe in the best way possible.
He didn’t get up and move from Oklahoma to Hollywood right away. Chance and his family kept a safe distance from the network of producers who wanted to take over his likeness. For this reason, many people thought that Greyson’s fame would live and die with that one cover song.
When he was in the studio, Chance slowly put together his music. One of his main issues with the process was his lack of creative input. Being as young as he was and not fully tapped into his artistic ability, the directives of adults washed out his unique style and perspective.
Over time, he distanced himself from the studio. He released a few singles in his hiatus but didn’t make strong moves in the industry (though Twenty One is absolutely a banger). Most people thought that his career died out as quickly as it blossomed. Lots of important people in his life left him behind at such a young age. He enrolled in college thinking he would never make music again. Eventually, he dropped out to take one more chance on music.
During this time, he came out as a gay man. While he was met with overwhelming support from his fans, he still faced struggles that many queer artists face. Chance wanted to be sure that his coming out would not define his career. He expected his label to monopolize on his queerness, turning his sexuality into a selling point for his music. The mix of not quite feeling comfortable in his skin and preserving artistic integrity held him back from coming out. Still, he broke through these barriers, inspiring people across the world. These themes can also be seen in much of his recent work.
After years of struggles and setbacks, Greyson released Portraits. It was worth the wait. Portraits rocked both the world and my summer 2019.
The album follows Greyson’s emotions in different parts of his life, with each song depicting its own “portrait” of his feelings at the time. The songs are lyrical and piano-focused. They include songs like White Roses, which follows a broken love story that evokes pain and coldness. Meanwhile, Black on Black is a more smooth and sensual song, mixing nervous excitement with a cool, casual mood.
In a lot of ways, this was Chance’s first album. He felt hidden behind the glamour and fame of child stardom and he didn’t put out a track that was truly him. He has grown so much as an artist. He is a true role model of personal growth and self-discovery.
In a recent interview conducted by OutWrite Managing Editor Jaden King, Greyson Chance reflected on his music, creativity, inspiration, sexuality, and the queer community.
Q: You came out in July of 2017, what was it like putting such a personal thing about yourself out there into the world, and what was the reaction from your followers and fans like?
A: Greyson responded saying that it was a fairly easy process for him. Greyson had come out two years before then to his family, but needed time to “find his footing” before putting something so personal out into the world. He had been inspired by a message sent to him and felt “quite nervous about the reception, but the nerves were thrown away after the fact. I received so much from the community. I am very glad I did that.”
Q: Do you think that your identity influences the way you approach songwriting and music? If so, how?
A: “[My identity] really didn’t alter the way that I created. My job is to be a storyteller— that’s what I do. Everything I write is my everyday life. [Songwriting] is a meditative space. My identity is my music.”
Q: What’s the biggest problem you’ve had to overcome so far regarding your sexuality?
A: “I sit at such a level of privilege, as a gay white man, it’s so much easier to walk around the country and to be okay. The biggest struggle for me is seeing my trans friends and people of color struggle.” He asks himself, “How do I better help my [queer] brothers and sisters?”
Q: What advice would you give younger queer people about finding themselves and navigating who they are?
A: “There is such a mold now set. There are a lot of kids that think that they see other people and have to be them. You can be inspired by people and influenced, but you don’t have to check every box. . . Every story is individualistic. As we are becoming more inclusive as a community, it is still important to remember to come out smartly, and come out safely.”
Q: How do you think we (as consumers) can be more supportive and help other LGBTQ+ artists in the music industry, or any other industry?
A: “It’s important to know where you’re spending your money. Know what they are doing with your money. Really do a quick Google search, I think that’s the number one thing. We really have to make sure every letter [of the LGBTQ+ acronym] is supported and stand united as a community.”
Q: What can we expect from you in the future?
A: “I am close to finishing up a new record. There will be more music and more touring. I’m going to keep ongoing. If you are tired of seeing me, too bad.”
Thank you to Greyson Chance and his team for giving me and OutWrite the opportunity to conduct this interview.
Some key takeaways:
- Greyson sheds light on an important issue: an enormous amount of privilege is given to white, gay, cis men within the queer community. This privilege is rooted in ongoing racism and transphobia. We need to recognize this privilege and deconstruct the institutions that support these racial and heteronormative hierarchical standards. We admire your fight to reclaim artistic agency Greyson! Thank you for helping to spread these necessary messages.
- I agree with Greyson’s concept of knowing where your dollar(s) are going— it’s critical to understanding a world that is dangerously wrapped up in consumer culture and capitalism. It is extremely important to understand what and who your dollar is supporting.
- Look for Greyson’s next album in the near future!
Overall, it is crucial to understand how you, personally and socially, affect the queer community, and what you can do to support others within it.
Jaden King (He/Him/His)