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Singer Michael Blume – ‘I’m not a mainstream gay artist’

Singer-songwriter Michael Blume, who identifies as queer, thinks audiences accept mainstream gay artists, like Sam Smith, but are uncomfortable with singers who are explicit about their sexuality.

In other words, Blume is here, and he’s queer, but audiences are not yet used to it.

CHALLENGING NORMS

“I don’t think people have a problem listening to a gay artist, like Sam Smith. But when you’re too gay, start moving into queer territory or pursuing gender norms, people not as comfortable,” the 27-year-old singer said. “I’m not a mainstream gay artist.”

Blume is on the phone while getting a ride to a Los Angeles-area recording studio, where he will work on new music for his first full-length CD that will be released in 2017.

The New York City resident is visiting Los Angeles as part of a West Coast tour supporting his six-song debut EP, “When I Get It Right.”

Blume is performing 8:30 tonight at the Bootleg Theater, near Westlake North neighborhood.

Blume’s concerts showcase his queerness, he said.

“I’m very explicit in my live shows. Sometimes I wear gender non-conforming clothing, and they get uncomfortable. When I’m singing about sucking dick, they’re uncomfortable,” he said. “When you are explicit, it gets uncomfortable, which is homophobic.”

‘IS IT AUTHENTIC’?

Blume’s “When I Get It Right” EP spotlights a mix of R&B, jazz, hip-hop, electronica and neo-soul that are layered over social conscious lyrics, such as ones about materialism and internalized homophobia.

“I’m very much trying to make accessible pop music that is fun, that people can like, that can be successful,” Blume said.

“I also want to make a statement about society and the world. My artistic goals are to provoke questions and shine light on unspoken norms and rules we follow.”

But Blume wonders if those artistic goals would be compromised if he sang less about being queer.

“I’m an emerging artist, and I want to grow and gain fans, but it’s the ongoing question — If I know that toning down (being queer) will sell more records, is it authentic?,” he said. “Or am I another gay boy who became a sellout?”

“I’m very explicit in my live shows,” queer singer Michael Blume said. “Sometimes I wear gender non-conforming clothing, and they get uncomfortable. When I’m singing about sucking dick, they get uncomfortable,” he said. “When you are explicit, it gets uncomfortable, which is homophobic.” Photo: Shervin Lainez.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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