Gay country music singer Steve Grand has never been one to shy away from using his considerable aesthetic assets to promote his music. His Instagram regularly features shots of him at the gym, in tight clothes, in transparent clothes and in no clothes, and his music videos have featured him skinny dipping with other naked men. Other than some flack about a particularly tight speedo, there have, until this point, been very few complaints.
No one's expecting scholarly insight from a guy who regularly uses the hashtags "muscle", "thirsttrap", "masc4masc", and "guysintights", but when Grand lamented to US LGBTQI website PrideSource this week that he was misunderstood by people, there was a general air of cynicism.
"I just know people have really, really low expectations of me and that's what the Internet does," Grand said.
"I'm such an easy person to target. Young, good-looking, white, gay men - we love to hate those people. But there's been a real person there the whole time."
That's right, it's the all-American Adonis who has it real tough. This is despite a 2015 survey of 850 ethnically diverse gay men, conducted by the Gay Men's Health Charity (GMFA), which found more than two-thirds experienced racism on the gay scene – climbing to 80 per cent among men who identified as black. It also found 79 per cent of Asian men, 75 per cent of South Asian men, and 64 per cent of mixed-race men have personally experienced racism on the gay scene.
When asked if his risque photos helped or hurt his career, Grand simply responds: "Oh, I don't know. It is what it is. I'm just trying to be myself."
God help us.
It's ok though, Grand doesn't really care that you don't understand the complexities of his shirtless selfies or the disenfranchisement of the white jock. He continues:
"I had this unreasonable expectation that I was going to be understood by people and it took me a long time to get over that. I don't make sense in any kind of headline, so I've kinda given up on that and I'm fine with it. The more you kind of give up and don't care, the more people feel that and like that."
From his probing commentary on American race relations, Grand goes on to talk about his "rebellious spirit", how he takes his music seriously, how fans who tickle him are presumptuous, and how he has a "very appropriately sized and shaped" penis - seriously. Among the verbal diarrhea, there's one flicker of self-awareness:
"I'm not very good at crafting the public image version of me. I'm just not. I'm too messy of a person, and I care too much about being able to be a real dimensional human being."
Good luck to you, Steve.