By Shelby Clark Petkus
Gay pop/country star Steve Grand will kick off Michigan Pride's White Party Aug. 28 with a special concert. The 25-year-old singer and songwriter hails from Lemont, Illinois, right outside of Chicago. Grand became an Internet sensation when he became the first openly gay country musician to attract mainstream attention in the U.S.
His hit single, "All-American Boy," was considered a viral video in July 2013. The former model has been named to Out magazine's "Out 100" list and was named as one of Buzzfeed's "24 Most Brilliant Music Videos from 2013" for the hit.
Though "All-American Boy" has a country edge, audience-goers can expect music ranging from country to dance pop. "There's a lot of talk about me being a country artist, and that was the headline from the start: 'Gay country artist,'" Grand told Time Out New York. "I never really identified with that — I certainly didn't put that out there myself, and I've never done anything to affirm that label. That was something that was just placed on me. I mean, I understand, (the song) 'All-American Boy' does sound country, and the video is certainly very country. But there's stuff that's very dance-pop with not a trace of country on the record. So I think that will surprise people. But I'm a songwriter, and I've always been much more concerned about just the basic elements, the lyric and the melody rather than the production."
Recently, an image of Grand wearing a Speedo on a boat attracted criticism for being "too gay." Grand responded by telling Underwear News Brief, "I try not to pay too much attention. At some point in life it's important to realize that no matter what you do, people are going to have something to say about it so you may as well do/wear what makes you happy.
"I've seen a small number of gay men criticize my choice of swimwear for being immodest and 'stereotypically gay.' People are entitled to feel however they feel, but again, I wear what I wear for me and not for them; because it makes me feel good. I'm not looking for everyone's approval all of the time.
"There is a time and place for modesty, but, for me at least, a hot summer day in Chicago, on a boat with a bunch of other gay dudes, is not one of them.
"And frankly I don't care what some may consider to be a gay stereotype or not, and anyone using that as some kind of jab is probably grappling with their own internalized homophobia. I wear what makes me happy."
Grand also addressed Michigan Pride in a recent YouTube video. "Hey everybody, Steve Grand here," he says with a wave. "I just wanted to take a quick second to say hi to you and the good people of Michigan. I'm really looking forward to seeing all of you at White Party on Friday, Aug. 28 at Riverfront Park in Lansing to kick off the Michigan Pride festival weekend. I'm really looking forward to seeing all of you there and to be a part of this amazing event. See you then!"
Doors for the White Party open at 5 p.m. Adado Riverfront Park is located at 300 N. Grand Ave., Lansing.