Today, rising singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Grace Gaustad released her new single “Red,” in which she opens up for the first time about being sexually fluid and falling in love with a woman. In tandem with the single, which is from her forthcoming debut album BLKBX: wht r u hding, GLAAD is exclusively premiering the music video for “Red,” directed by Van Alpert. Check it out below:
The video features vignettes of Grace on her journey of self-discovery, including a scene where Grace kisses a girl for the first time in public. Ahead of the video release today, Grace posted a photo of the scene and, in an open letter published by GLAAD today, she reveals the internal struggles she still faced with posting the picture and living her truth. Read the full letter below:
“It’s hard to have something about yourself that makes you feel so different from the rest of the world. It’s Pride month, and as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, it should feel like a celebration, but instead, I’m terrified to release the first album of my career titled BLKBX: Wht r u hding. This project is my tell-all to the world and my fan base that besides having paralyzing anxiety, depression, body dysmorphia, and a learning disability, I am also sexually fluid. As fragile as all those issues are, the sexuality component of the project is by far the closest to my heart. For the first time, I am writing openly about my sexuality in a song called “Red” which is also the reason I’m writing this letter. When it came time to decide about posting a picture of me kissing the actress playing my girlfriend in the “Red” music video, I choked. I was terrified, even in the year 2021, during Pride month. I was asking myself whether I should post the kiss, the most beautiful frame in the video, or something less interesting? How many followers will I lose if my fans see me kissing another woman? Will comments need to be turned off because they will be too hard to read, let alone live? The best one is always what will my family think? As for what I believe, trust me- marginalized people are on a lifetime quest just to fit in, blend in, and, if I’m truthful, just be addressed by their first name rather than a label. But here I am shamefully considering self-censorship. The way I was born to love has caused me to second guess myself, my feelings, and even fall to pieces over something I should feel proud of, like a tender, on-screen kiss that would be on billboards everywhere if it were between a man and a woman.
As a young member of the LGBTQ+ community, I am so deeply grateful when an artist creates something that normalizes same-sex relationships. I grew up singing “I Kissed a Girl” by Katy Perry because it made me feel okay about what I was feeling. I listened to “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga whenever the world made me feel like I didn’t belong. I danced to the likes of Madonna, Cher, and many others who made pop and electronic music a safe space for people like me. Although not every artist who advocates for the LGBTQ+ community identifies as part of it, it is equally as important that people outside of the community fight for the rights of the people within. Our voices alone are not strong enough to silence the hate and prejudice we face on a day-to-day basis.
I applaud the brave artists who have proudly honored and highlighted their sexuality over the years, and I feel deeply for the artists who have had to choose between being authentically themselves and withholding part of their truth for opportunity. I can relate to both of those situations however ‘protecting’ a career does nothing to protect that person’s mental health and well-being. More importantly I do not think any artist wants to be supported by people who shame them for who they really are. Love is love, and after so many years of struggling, the gay community needs to be set free. What we feel is normal, and it is time the world accepts that.
My personal message to teens who remind me of my younger self is that I know how hard it can be to accept yourself for who you are when the world tells you how you feel is wrong. I know what it is like to wish things were different, to wish you could fit in with the rest of the world. But there is a beautiful community of people just like you who will embrace you and love you regardless of your gender or sexuality.
And to parents, please just love your kids no matter who they are. I promise you, they are already struggling enough with themselves in more ways than you could possibly imagine.
And to the people who can’t help but stare, whisper, and say hideous things to me when I’m just trying to get a cup of coffee, try kindness next time. I’m a person just like you. We don’t get to choose our cards in life, but we learn how to play with them.
And most importantly, I’m posting the picture. I will deal with the fallout that may come because if someone isn’t okay with who I am as a person, that’s not someone I want following me anyway. That beautiful picture is just another step in being authentically proud about the fact that I’m part of the rainbow.”
Following the open letter, Grace is inviting fans to take part in the #redchallenge. The #redchallenge encourages everyone to live their truth and share it with the world on their social media using the hashtag.
“Red” is available to listen to now on all streaming platforms.