A Reading From The Gospel, According To Shawn Thomas

By Troy N. Diggs

Many people wouldn’t think the words “gay gospel singer from Alabama” make any sense put together, let alone to describe someone. However, musician Shawn Thomas is, yes, gay… and a singer… originally from Texas, now in Alabama… who (among other things) sings religious music.

Thomas is originally from Dallas, a place much more open than a small town in Alabama. “At the time, I worked with the YMCA, and it was a job transfer up here,” says Thomas. “It was a neat job… but I really enjoy doing music much more.”

Thomas' first album was released in 1993. His second CD, “Typical Male” is a transition CD of sorts. “It was a mix of different things, trying to figure some stuff out… there was lots of frustration songs, lots of anger on that CD. I tried to do this rock kind of thing, and it just wasn’t what I do the best.”

The current CD is called “Out in This World”, and Thomas thinks it’s more along his lines. “The CD is more pop, ballads, dance, things like that. The songs are very personal and direct to me.” Thomas even notes that the songs on his first CD, “Come My Way,” were about straight relationships because “that’s what was happening to me at the time.”

Songwriting and singing is Thomas' first passion. Although he has appeared in several musicals and plays, he says he finds himself going back to music. “As a career, that’s where I’m really going at. I don’t have a desire to go to New York and audition on Broadway; I think that would be fun, but I think I would really feel like I would rather be doing this instead.”

Thomas' work also involves working with the church. At a local Presbyterian church, he leads an adult choir, plus a children’s choir. Thomas says he’s subtle about his sexuality in the church. “I’m out, in the respect that I wouldn't deny it if I were directly asked… but I also don’t go into church on Sunday morning wearing a Pride T-shirt. I have a lot of friends that do know, but I feel like it’s important to live my life the best way I can and try to live like I feel like God wants me to live… and be the best person I can be. If people know that I’m gay, then that allows them to see what another gay person is like. Usually, things are positive when that happens, because they already know me and like me.”

Thomas and his partner are also making a recovery of sorts. Both of them went through periods of eating disorders, but they’re in the middle of the healing process. “There’s even a song on the new CD (about it)… and I really think one of the things that was really frustrating was that treatment centers wouldn’t accept me because I was a guy. If you look up these kind of eating disorders in the dictionary, they say it happens to girls who are between 20-28, and so on. That’s just not how it works. It doesn’t matter who you are… it still happens. Nobody’s really alone in that; you just have to search sometimes.”

One of Thomas' major projects (besides music) is Aaron’s Rainbow Project. “When I was growing up, I didn’t even start to figure out that I was gay until my mid-20s…. and I didn’t have anything to identify with. Being gay meant that you were some kind of child molester or something. There weren’t any role models, there wasn’t “Will & Grace” or anything like that. I hope that we can benefit lots of different charities, especially in my own community.”

Thomas says above all, he hopes his music has a message to his audience. “I hope that I can project an image to somebody who might be younger, just to go through these different kinds of changes and struggles… they can see that this is another example of what a gay person is like.”

You can check out Shawn Thomas on the Web @ http://members.aol.com/shthms/mainpage.html.

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