By Troy N. Diggs
Many people wouldnt 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 wasnt what I do the best.
The current CD is called Out in This World, and Thomas thinks its 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 thats 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, thats where Im really going at. I dont 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 childrens choir. Thomas says hes subtle about his sexuality in the church. Im out, in the respect that I wouldn't deny it if I were directly asked but I also dont go into church on Sunday morning wearing a Pride T-shirt. I have a lot of friends that do know, but I feel like its 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 Im 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 theyre in the middle of the healing process. Theres 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 wouldnt 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. Thats just not how it works. It doesnt matter who you are it still happens. Nobodys really alone in that; you just have to search sometimes.
One of Thomas' major projects (besides music) is Aarons Rainbow Project. When I was growing up, I didnt even start to figure out that I was gay until my mid-20s . and I didnt have anything to identify with. Being gay meant that you were some kind of child molester or something. There werent any role models, there wasnt 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.