It’s hard out there for a young, good-looking, white, gay man. Just ask musician Steve Grand, a.k.a. the poster child for struggle.
During a recent interview with the online publication Pride Source, Grand said: “People have (such) incredibly low expectations of me, that I just need to show up. For my performances, I need to not be terrible and people will be impressed. I just know people have really, really low expectations of me and that’s what the Internet does. I’m such an easy person to target. Young, good-looking, white, gay men—we love to hate those people.”
Grand is an attractive, musclebound, 26-year-old gay white male from a middle class background who jumpstarted his singing career by taking shirtless selfies and uploading videos of himself to YouTube, complaining about how his race somehow puts him at a disadvantage. He raised over a quarter of a million dollars in online donations to finance his first album, appropriately titled “All-American Boy,” after winning over gay men’s hearts with a music video featuring him skinny dipping with a white adult film star.
Is anyone else totally confused by this?
Last I checked being young, good-looking and white was sort of like winning the lottery of life—especially if you’re vying for a career in Hollywood. Sure, one could argue being gay poses a challenge for Grand, but his nearly 130,000 Instagram followers and 11+ million YouTube hits suggest otherwise.
I think it’s safe to say that Steve Grand, put simply, is not a socially marginalized individual. In fact, he’s just the opposite.
Grand has accomplished something truly extraordinary. He utilized the internet to build a brand for himself and, as a result, landed a place on Out magazine’s “Out100” list of prominent LGBT people in 2013 and a spot on the cover of Instinct magazine as one of the publication’s “Leading Men”. He’s appeared on Good Morning America, CNN and countless other national media outlets, posed for glossy photo spreads, landed partnerships with the Human Rights Campaign, GLSEN and other LGBT rights organizations, raised a small fortune, and continues to perform regularly. And he did it all in the first half of his 20s.
That’s no easy feat, but don’t think for a second his success isn’t in large part because of his looks—particularly his race. After all, when is the last time you heard about a hot gay man of color taking off all his clothes and releasing a self-produced music video then enjoying the same level of prolonged national media attention and praise? The closest example I can think of is, perhaps, Todrick Hall, but that’s an admittedly weak comparison.