My name is Ryan Amador. I was born in Southern California in 1990. In April 2013, I released a music video on YouTube titled “Define Me” which was featured by Huffington Post Gay Voices as well as numerous other LGBT-related blogs. The video (see below) portrayed me and another artist, Jo Lampert, undressing matching suits to reveal LGBT-related labels and slurs branded onto our skin. Throughout the song, Lampert and I wash off the labels to reveal our brand-iess bare bodies in the final shot The video has been viewed over 330,000 times since it’s release and seems to have had great impact on the lives of individuals around the globe.
Since releasing the video, I have been subject to large number of assumptions: that I define myself as a “gay artist”, that this video was a “gay video", and that I make “gay music”, etc. Even from avid supporters of the video, these labels seem to show up, making severe (and perhaps necessary) attempts to bring me into a community hungry for a voice. Now I’ll be the first to admit how grateful I am for the countless blogs and shares of the video who have been so necessary in spreading its message, but at the end of the day I can’t help but notice how the message has perhaps been muddied by the labels necessary to share it.
I was raised in a fairly conservative Los Angeles suburb where homosexuality was often the blunt of a joke at a Super Bowl party. Luckily, the 90’s media with which I engaged as a young man was dealing with the topic head-on. I can remember spotting gay characters on MTV’s “The Real World” or while watching an episode of “Friends” or “Will & Grace". For me it has always been pure fact that some men have sex with men and some women have sex with women. And that is surely a blessing.
Growing up doing community theater, I was surrounded by boys and men who had behavioral tendencies that I was taught were more "feminine." Perhaps they spoke a certain way, liked wearing pink, were freer with their arms and hands, etc. It was these same men that were then usually labeled as “probably gay”, meaning that people had assumed from their behavior that they enjoyed having sex with men.
It is absurd to me that such inferences exist. That society has labeled certain interests feminine, and then concluded that the people with those interests are inherently sexually-oriented towards masculinity. I was raised with such notions, with the Los Angeles suburban judgment of a young boy wearing pink as "going to be gay" when in fact he was probably just lucky to have freedom of choice, to be free to choose pink out of the spectrum of colors available.
I went to college in New York City, where I was lucky enough to know extremely "feminine" men who in fact had sex with women and extremely “masculine" men who had sex with men. The vast array of possibilities in regard to how one could behave themselves was mind-blowing. The liberal New York environment seemed to support this expression of individuality. Gender was no longer a parameter for clothing or behavior and each person could choose what suit them best.
The same seemed to go for sexuality. I began to know men and women who dated both men and women. Sometimes one more than the other and sometimes in perfect balance. The spectrum of possibilities was vast. When people felt the freedom to follow their instincts, they were able to choose what they actually want, and what came of it was a diverse array of complex sexualities across the board. One female friend was eager to be with a woman she knew though she was still in love with her man. Months later I discovered that she’s in a committed relationship to that woman. The freedom to travel one’s sexual interests freely between human beings as individuals allowed for the power to choose.
There are buzzing arguments around nature vs. nurture, but I believe it all comes down the simplicity of one’s taste. When we are brought a menu at a restaurant, we don’t argue as to whether our interest in the spicy coconut curry is based on nature or nurture, we confidently understand that we are choosing the dish based on our individual taste. I believe this is the same for gender behavior and sexuality.
I hope my videos for “Define Me” and “Spectrum” are able to percolate these ideas in the minds of those reading this blog. And if they’re constantly being coined as "gay anthems", then something is urgently wrong with our current capacity for human complexity. As our menus gets more and more specific, so will our taste buds, and the human species can finally strive to be an interdependent collective of taste specialists, with each person so necessary to the spectrum as a whole.