As gay musicians, it's taken us a long time and many winding roads to find our footing and a solid sense of pride -- as artists and as people. We've been lugging gear, racking up frequent flyer miles, restringing guitars, eating roadside dinners and harmonizing together for over 12 years. We were, as I am sure many gay musicians and actors have been over the years, steered down an unfortunate path of fear and resistance. Fear that people would find out our 'dirty little secret.' It was instilled in us by several industry professionals, whose opinions we highly respected at the time, that if our fans found out we were gay it would be the death of our career. Shame is a dreadful feeling. A most unwanted and counterproductive feeling. And we shouldered that burden for a long time.
It wasn't until nearly nine years after such 'sound advice' (hopefully you detect the sarcasm) that we asked ourselves, "Why would people accept our stories and believe what we sing as true to our hearts, if we couldn't be true to ourselves?" How could we get people to put themselves into, or relate to, our songs if we were constantly censoring them?
So we came out. Front cover story of Toronto's Xtra! Magazine. Go big or stay home, my father always said. It was a momentous turning point for Madison Violet. It was like the skies opened up, the clouds scattered and the rays gently wrapped around our weary souls. There was no lightning striking us down in our seats, like we were told would happen so many moons ago. No backlash. Only relief.
We found safe haven in acceptance. Garnered new fans while thankfully not losing the old ones. From city to city, they now collectively make up a beautifully diverse audience. Old and young. Men, women and children. Gay and straight. We found our lost pride. Pride in ourselves. In our words and melodies. In what we believed to be good and true and honest.
Those conversations we had 12 years ago, had such a profound affect on our career and our personal lives. They instilled fear lead us down a path of stark contrast. Living one life in the dark. Our true lives. Living another under the bright lights of the stage, hiding not our faces, but our hearts, and our authentic selves.
When we finally embodied that feeling of acceptance and pride, there came the realization that we don't need to live in the dark anymore. There's room for all of us under the lights.