21 year-old Greyson Chance, the YouTube star from Oklahoma, shot to stardom with the viral video of his stunning sixth-grade music festival performance of Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” in 2010.
The video’s been viewed over 65 million times, landing him a guest spot on the Ellen show and after which he landed a recording contract with her label.
In the nine years since then, Greyson has released two albums, including this year’s Portraits.
Chance himself came out as gay in 2017 in an Instagram post, writing:
The decision to write this came after I received a message from a brave individual. Such message inspired me to shed light on an aspect of my private life which I have kept distant from my career in music.
I came to fully recognize that I was gay when I was sixteen. I decided not to publicize my sexuality largely due to a matter of privacy, as I was still trying to find comfort and confidence within my own skin. Further, I always found conversations regarding music, politics, art, books – and the greatness of Nas’ catalog – to be far more interesting than what type of guy I was into. This is still true today.
While this message is most definitely overdue, I encourage anyone who is navigating their sexuality to devote as much time as they need to the process of finding self-confidence, self-acceptance, and self-love. Hell, for me, it took years to write this message. Nevertheless, I figured now was the time to let a few more friends know that I am happy, I am here for you, and I am proud of who I am.
Chance talked to Teen Vogue‘s Thomas Page McBee “about reimagining coming out as a masculine rite-of-passage, and how trans people got him to think more deeply about gender identity.”
Thomas Page McBee: When did you first realize that you were a man?
Greyson Chance: Probably when I came out to my friends and family. I think I was 16. It felt like I had seen older adult males in my life, like my dad and my grandpa and my older brother, go through consequential moments where they had to be a bit more courageous than they are in their day-to-day, and that felt like stepping into manhood. I really felt confident in who I was as a man after I came out.
TPM: Has your idea of what being a man means changed since you were 16?
GC: It’s constantly evolving. I’m starting to realize as I’m getting older that being a man and being firm in your masculinity is so far removed from an exterior vision of it. It has nothing to do with the way you dress or the way you talk, or how you identify.
I think, for me, it really goes back to principles. It means taking care of the people around you, sticking up for your friends, sticking up for your family, being brave, not stepping away from a challenge.
TPM: What questions did you have about gender, especially masculinity, as a young person? And how did you find the answers to those questions?
GC: I think I had been taught that if I liked boys, that was emasculating. My biggest question was, why did I feel a certain way towards people that are like me, and why does that affect my masculinity? I didn’t understand.
And I’ll be completely honest, in terms of questions about gender, it wasn’t until I became friends with people in the trans community and actually had real conversations with them that I began to understand gender in a much, much bigger way. So I think I’m still asking questions too, you know? I’m still curious.