Rayvon Owen opens up about his sexuality in his new music video, “Can’t Fight It.” The American Idol 14 alum tells Billboard magazine. when he received the first treatment for the video, and read the first draft that had him leaving a nightclub with a beautiful girl, he knew he couldn’t do it.
“I couldn’t be dishonest,” Rayvon told Billboard, “not that I ever lied to people in the past, but the truth had been omitted. I felt like I was doing a disservice because I’ve always been an honest, loving person.”
The ending was changed. In the video’s closing scene, Rayvon kisses a man.
Rayvon’s decision to come out was influenced by, among other things, meeting LGBT activist, Shane Bitney Crone at an event in Detroit last year. “His story really inspired me,” said Rayvon. The activist starred in the 2013 film Bridegroom which documents the death of his partner, Tom Bridegroom. Crone was denied the right to visit Bridegroom in the hospital, and the family asked him not to attend the funeral after he passed away. It’s Crone who plays the stranger in the club seen kissing Rayvon in the closing moments of the video.
On deciding not to come out during his run on American Idol Rayvon said, “I was afraid. Here’s a show that reaches so many people, including a lot of small town, conservative people, who grew up in the same environment I grew up in. I was afraid that if I shared this part of my life, would people vote for me? It’s sad that I had to think that. I never said I dated a girl or I’m straight, but I never said I was gay, either. I just let people think what they think. Not just publicly but with the contestants, with the producers, with everybody. I decided to keep that to myself. Do I regret that decision? You can’t go back and change it. You just learn from it.”
Also, there was another very good reason to keep his sexuality private. “I hadn’t come out to my mom. That was something I wanted to take care of before I went on the show, even though for all these years, I was afraid to tell her. I wanted to be the first to let her know.”
“I grew up in a Christian home in the South. In those communities it’s still, to this day, very taboo. People are still getting kicked out of their homes and parents are still disowning their kids. My mother still loves me but it wasn’t easy at first. And she said some things that she apologized for. She only knows what she knows from the community she grew up in, which is very similar to how I grew up. That’s another reason why I’m doing this. I think it’s a conversation that needs to be had in the church, especially as an African-American. There are so many LGBT people in the black church who are either leaving because they don’t feel welcome or they’re afraid to be who they really are. These are the people who are running the church, the worship leaders, the piano players, the singers, the choir members — a lot of them are gay but don’t say anything. They can’t talk about it because they’re afraid they’re going to lose their jobs. Or get kicked out of the church or be seen differently. Kirk Franklin, who is a huge gospel star, apologized to the LGBT community because of how a lot of us have been treated. He said there is room at the cross for everybody, which is true, and God loves everybody and makes no exception. You’d be surprised at the amount of times I tried to pray the gay away from me or tried to tell God to take this away from me. No kid should have to do what I did and pray to not be who they are. That’s why I think it’s important even in 2016 to say this.”
Rayvon co-wrote “Can’t Fight It” with Mylen, Nate Merchant and Isaiah Tejada.
“Can’t Fight It” is a soulful pop tune featuring Rayvon’s gorgeous falsetto, front and center. The message to be and love yourself is as beautiful a message to spread on Valentine’s Day as any I can think of. Watch the new music video right here.
There’s more of Rayvon’s interview at Billboard Magazine.