For many in the dance music community, the narrative which just surfaced that Grant Kwiecinski is gay comes as no big surprise. The icon known as GRiZ has not been exactly secretive about his sexual orientation to his colleagues and fan base in the, glitch hop, future funk and electro soul scenes — and why should he be, what with his message of #ShowLoveSpreadLove that saturates his every artistic and professional life?
However, today, June 6, GRiZ addressed this topic more publicly than ever before, as LGBT Pride Month officially begins. In a Huffington Post OP-ED, the All Good Records-head discusses the necessities and difficulties of his own journey toward coming to terms with his sexuality. In his moving piece, Kwiecinski provides a narrative which is as uplifting as it is critical for many of today’s LGBTQ – and, indeed, cishet – youth to hear.
Kwiecinski writes the following of the difficulties he faced growing up, the importance of openly gay role models in the community, and provides a message of inspiration for those who feel a connection to his story:
“There was so much pressure to fit in, I tried to force myself to be like everyone else. The last thing any teen wants is to be ‘uncool.’ Hell, the typical lingo for things that were lame was ‘gay’ and someone who wasn’t cool ‘fag’ or ‘faggot.’ Every day those words are so casually tossed into conversation as if it were true. And, I started to believe they were. There were no openly gay role models in culture for me to look up to at the time to dispel that myth (besides Freddie Mercury, you my dude!!!). Countless rap songs about chasing women and misogyny, TV shows and movies about how the guy always gets the hot girl or wants to. I don’t think I saw a gay person on TV until Will and Grace which, after all, was a comedy.Just to create some perspective for my people who don’t quite understand this, let’s flip the script. Imagine most rap songs were about admiring dicks, and every love story was between two men or two women. When Harry met… Bob. Joey and Chandler from friends end up together. When a man loves a man. Sounds weird, right? The only representation of gay people in my life was a 30-minute sitcom once a week on television. I found it so difficult to see myself as part of something. I was all alone. I had to avoid facing my true self at risk of losing everything.
If at this point you are telling yourself this sounds even mildly familiar, and you have so perfectly and with great pain kept your secret to yourself, I have one thing to tell you. It gets better. For me, it was college when things started to turn around. I found a small group of gay friends and with their help, combined with newly found courage, I was able to feel more comfortable with who I was. I had to tell myself, ‘Grant, you’re just gonna be who you are. You’re a super rad dude and people are gonna love you either way. If they don’t then they weren’t actually your friends in the first place.’ This is that leap of faith moment. You just have to go for it. I was surprised how supportive my family and friends were in my coming out and it gave and still gives me hope. I believe in the goodness of people. Yes, there is a lot of negativity and hate. Instead of giving into that fear and sadness, we need to shine. Shine so brightly that it inspires your community to do the same. It won’t always be easy, but the battle is worth it. Never ever give up on yourself. It might not be cool to love Britney Spears, study AP physics or play saxophone but, it’s totally cool to be gay.
Read the full Huffington Post OP-ED here.
Featured image via Jason Segel/Billboard.