Steve Grand's parents sent him to "straight therapy" for five years after learning he was gay in eighth grade

Steve Grand’s music video for "All-American Boy,” a country rock ballad about one young man’s heartache and unrequited love for a close male friend, has gone viral, earning over 1.4 million views on YouTube.

The video shows young man at a party, exchanging glances with a friend who’s across the campfire with his girlfriend. The next day the two of them go on a drive with a girl, who soon feels like the third wheel and leaves them. The pair walk side by side, sharing a flask, laughing and palling around. When they get to a lake and go skinny-dipping, the young man, misinterpreting their interactions as flirtation, plants a kiss on the friend. At the end, the friend goes back to his girlfriend though baring no ill-will for misunderstanding, but leaving the guy played by Grand with a broken heart.

In order to make the song come to life in the video, “I took everything I had, and everything I didn’t have, and made this video with that. There was no Plan B. There was no going back,” Grand told the Los Angeles Times. Referencing the gay storyline in his song, Grand added, “The world never sees change until people say … I’m going to just do it,” he said. “I have to do it. That’s why I went all in. I’m not going to play it safe. There’s no room in the world to play it safe. You have kids killing themselves,” he continued. “Sure, there’s been progress politically, but there’s all these rural places in America, especially, that are very homophobic.”

Grand was not always as free to express his own sexuality while growing up gay in the Midwest. When his parents found out he was gay in eighth grade, they sent him to straight therapy for five years, reported The Huffington Post. While in college and deciding he wanted to make a go of having a career in music, he said, “I spent a lot of time alone, figuring out who I was. I realized I had no idea who the hell I was. You can’t be an artist and you can’t have a message until you have a good idea of who you are and who you want to be.” With “All-American Boy,” Grand seems to have found who he was, and fortunately for him, his parents have since come to accept him and are proud of his song and accompanying video.

After Grand had finished the video, which cost him $7,000 to make, he simply uploaded it to YouTube and shared a link on Facebook. Now that the video has gone viral, Grand plans to use the name he’s made for himself to continue to reach audiences with songs that speak honestly from his own experiences. “I feel this giant responsibility to be there for them, even if I’m never on the radio because people aren’t comfortable with a guy singing about a guy – or because I don’t write poppy enough music. ‘All-American Boy’ is hopefully just the very beginning of a career for me.”

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