White Roses by Greyson Chance

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“I am sure many will take the main character as being shameful of who he is, but that is not the case at all. The character isn’t shameful, but rather he is broken,” Greyson Chance says of the music video for his song “White Roses,” the midpoint of his 2019 studio album, Portraits.

It’s an important distinction to make when discussing a video concept that revolves around a character concealing all or some parts of their sexuality — a tale that was once a reality for Chance.

Directed by Bobby Hanaford and Chance himself, the music video tackles the loss and hurt involved with bursts of free expression, still limited by the confines of current relationships. Rather than have moments of abandon, like the one that occurs at the climax of the video for “White Roses,” be laced with shame, Chance is painting a picture of truly intimate rupture.

“Just like the world around them, each character in the video is likewise broken,” Chance explains, leaving no question as to the radius of impact caused by one hiding their identity from loved ones. “I am portrayed by the boy in the trailer.”

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Thanks Taylor but, can you not?

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Taylor Swift gave a gift to her queer fan base in the form of a summertime gay anthem called “You Need To Calm Down,” and on behalf of a grateful community, I must say: thank you, Taylor!

Also: is there any chance you kept a receipt?

Please understand: I appreciate the effort. Like God Herself, I love a trier. It is a thrilling and still somewhat new experience to be part of the textual narrative in pop music, and I am delighted for the young queer kid who’s hearing the song and feeling seen, supported and nourished for the first time. It’s important! And the song has already lodged itself in my frontal lobe and kicked both of those new Bon Iver songs out of their seats. Between “Calm Down,” Katy Perry’s “Never Really Over,” and the whole new Carly Rae Jepsen album, the 2019 pop sound palette seems to be “the Fletch soundtrack,” and I am all the way here for it. I will hear “Calm Down” at pool parties this summer, and I will sing along. It is nice.

But attempting to write a gay anthem in 2019 reeks of sweat and substandard self-awareness. The classics of the past— your “I Will Survive,” your “It’s Raining Men,” your “Pull Up To The Bumper”— they gave us our gayness indirectly. They were anthems of strength, of perseverance, of plain, joyous horniness, served up vicariously, the way it had to be done back then. The singers, always women, almost always black, were our stand-ins. We found these songs and made them ours. These days, LGBTQ wokeness is a box to check off in a marketing plan, and when there are perfectly capable queer artists out there, sitting down as a straight person and setting out to write a gay anthem is very much like trying to give yourself a nickname.

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