LOS ANGELES – Brandon Stansell’s latest single “Hometown” is a song that really hits close to home.
Speaking to Fox News, the country music singer-songwriter explained the inspiration behind the tune, which first debuted in November.
“I wrote ‘Hometown’ as a song kind of a representation of my coming out story,” Stansell told us. “I grew up in a small town outside of Tennessee, just outside of Chattanooga, and when I came out, my family didn’t respond very well."
“I come from a pretty strict, Southern Baptist, conservative family, and I went through a large portion of my life after that kind of having to sift and deal with what had happened to me," he continued.
However, looking back at that moment in his life, Stansell says he’s thankful for everything he went through.
“It made me who I am and that’s a person I’m really proud of,” he shared, adding that he “wrote this song as a way to express that," as well as give light to the things he went through and to express his gratitude.
“’I'm really thankful for this crazy path that I took to get here, and it all started in my hometown in Tennessee,” Stansell, who now resides in Los Angeles, noted.
In the music video, viewers see a woman playing Stansell’s mom who isn’t receptive to her son coming out, and ultimately kicks him out. Asked if the video is a reflection of his own personal journey, Stansell says that they did take “some creative liberties” while filming. However, they did capture the emotion, which was the “most important part.”
“We had to boil down the interactions that I had with not only my mom and dad, but also my brothers, sisters, friends, people that I grew up with, that whole support system that kind of evaporated when I decided to be honest about who I was,” explained Stansell, adding that they had to figure out how to make all of that work in under a minute.
“So that wasn’t exactly what happened to me, but that was a combination of everything that happened to me in a way we knew that we could tell it.”
As for why “Hometown” was such an essential story for him to tell, Stansell stressed that “visibility is important.”
“I’m a writer-singer of country music, and country music is all about story-telling,” he explained. “I’ve heard that my whole life. It really is the basis of what that genre is, but for the longest time that genre has told its LGBTQ singers-songwriters to not tell their story, to not be honest about who they are, and that’s not something I felt like that I could do.”
He continued: “I went through something that changed my life in a really dramatic way, and it is not a story that is unique to me. There are so many people who are LGBTQ, who are lovers of country music, who never hear their stories play out on the radio, they never see them play out on CMT, and it really makes for a very isolated and lonely feeling when that is the music that you love, but you never see yourself reflected in it. So I wanted to be a part of changing that.”
Since its premiere, Stansell says “Hometown” has generated a positive response.
“It’s people feeling this weight being lifted — that something that they went through is finally getting talked about in a way that hasn't really been done before, so I'm feeling very thankful at the end of all of this because a lot of hard work went into the project, and I just feel like I made something not only that I'm very proud of, but I think that is a help for people.”
And the star couldn’t be more grateful that both country music fans and artists have enjoyed his music.
“I’ve had nothing but good things said to me and about me, which I’m really thankful for that,” he says. “I kind of like to say that people in the South and lovers of country music, they're more open and accepting than we give them credit to be probably. We just have to give them that chance to really show us.”
As he creates new music, Stansell has one goal – to continue to advocate for not only the LGBTQ community, but also to help their loved ones.
“It’s funny when I started off on this project my main goal was to get to a place where when I told my story there would actually be someone in the audience listening,” Stansell recalled, explaining that now he couldn't even imagine doing music "without advocacy attached to it."
"My music is very important to me that’s what I love to do," he shared. "But like I said my coming out experience drastically changed my entire life, and my hope is that I can use my music and my story to make that process easier and better for not only people who are LGBTQ, but their families and friends because it is a really important moment when they decide to be honest about who they are, and when they do that, that's all that they have to do. The rest is on the family and their support system.
"Mine wasn't great, but I think that others can be," Stansell added. "So I want to be a part of engendering that change, especially in the South. Especially in country music."