By Mik Hyldebrandt
Openly gay artist Trey Pearson just released his highly anticipated debut solo pop album Love Is Love. The 7-song album is Trey’s first major work since departing the Christian music scene, and he cites his journey of coming out – from the initial pain to eventual freedom – as the inspiration that lead to the creation of his upcoming album. We caught up with Trey on his album release tour to talk about changing life seasons, faith, and the freedom to truer and more authenic than ever before.
The album opens up with the upbeat and optimistic title track “Love is Love” where you describe your (new-found?) understanding of love. How does the song relate to your own story?
I think this song is celebrating my freedom and excitement I have found in being able to experience the kind of love and intimacy and excitement I had always longed for in my life. It’s definitely a love song, but a love song that is very much celebrating the belief in the LGBTQ community that we all deserve to love and be loved in the most intimate way.
Taking the leap from Christian music to being a solo pop artist, how does your new musical expression feel in comparison?
This new music feels like the most intimate, vulnerable thing I have ever done. It feels like sharing my diary with the listener, and being able to tap into a part of myself I never have before. I think coming out was finally letting the valve off something I had suppressed my entire life. I really feel like the flowed over into me creatively as well, as I wrote these songs.
The album is overall upbeat, but there are moments of incredible sensitivity and emotionality where you seem to celebrate your newfound identity, but also honestly question facets of being openly gay. The song “Good Grief” seems to capture the essence of your emotional mindset which has you balancing between happiness and pain – is that a right assumption?
“The Good Grie” was kind of my mantra as I was going through the process of coming out to myself and my family. I believe whenever you are going through a seasons change in life, even when it’s the best thing for you, there are things in the previous season of life that you will leave behind, and that need to be grieved to move on. I think that’s true in watching your child graduate, or getting married, or in my case, coming out. This song was allowing myself to experience all of those emotions I felt, even when it’s been the most freeing, peaceful feeling I’ve ever felt in my life.
In “Hey Jesus”, you have an open-hearted talk with Jesus, where you look for some answers about being gay. What role does faith play in your life – and has your faith changed after coming out?
My faith is still an important part of my life, although it has changed a lot over the years. When I don’t know anything else, I still like believing in the message of Jesus, to love God, or whatever you want to call the energy that has given us life, and to love your neighbor. Growing up in the Christian faith tradition, I fell in love with Jesus at a young age, and I think it came down to these ideas. We like to complicate it with other things sometimes, but that’s what it is about for me. I don’t know how much my faith has changed since I came out, but my faith was changing a lot for years leading up to coming out. I guess it’s kind of always been changing, and eventually progressing, ever since I was a teenager. I think “Hey Jesus” was more about the feeling I had always had growing up than anything else, and the deepest desire to love and be loved fully, in the most intimate ways.
In “Good Grief” you sing about joy through pain and beauty through struggle. In “Good Grief (Part Two)” you sing about love lost and longing – how do the songs connect?
I think they are both about accepting the good and the pain in that changing of seasons. They just both spilled out in different times and ways.
Taking a cue from your coming out story that became national news – what advice would you give to someone struggling with their sexuality and coming out like you did?
That even when it’s scary, and even when you know you could lose what feels like everything, nothing can ever replace being your best, truest, and most authentic self.
How do you think being openly will shape you as an artist?
I think it has opened another level of vulnerability, intimacy, and honesty in my lyrics, to a place I wasn’t able to go before. I’m so excited to be able to share that with people, and it has given new life to what I’m creating.
What are your future plans? Going on tour? Coming to Atlanta?
Yes. I just performed in Chicago for the first stop of my release shows. I am doing a release party in Columbus this week, and setting up a “Love Is Love” release tour. I hope to come to Atlanta, yes! 🙂