As LGBT narratives in pop culture continue to blur the lines of gender and sexuality, a controversial new music video for the song “Brave Man” attempts to redefine how male bravery is perceived, and its singer explains how the accessibility of music is key in starting conversations about change.
Will Young, an English singer-songwriter released the music video to his single “Brave Man” earlier this month. The video follows someone struggling with gender dysphoria who walks around naked while being taunted.
Young, who is gay, told the U.K.’s Independent newspaper the decision to focus his video on a trans man, rather than a biological male, was not made out of conformity to a popular narrative, but was made out of instinct.
“I was sitting in my car wondering about what it meant to be a brave man and it just came together and I was instinctively happy about the idea,” he told the paper.
He and the video’s director met with a transgender consultant prior to production, he said. The consultant set them up with a male-identifying woman named Finn to star in the video.
“I spoke to Finn about his experiences after that and continue to do so. It’s a relationship based on trust, and love, actually,” said Young.
Despite minor controversy within the trans community over whether the video portrays transgender people as victims, a label that is apparently lamented by many, Young said the video has received an overwhelmingly positive response.
“Trans people are suffering and we face abuse, but I also want people to know we are fighting back” trans musician CN Lester said of the video, while others reportedly took issue with the singer bringing up a discussion about an issue that is not personal to him.
Of Lester’s critique, Young asserted:
That’s completely fair enough … but when I think about the evolution of gay rights I think having people who were straight joining alongside [gay people] showed a sense of community, where wider society is embracing difference. A lot of musicians’ work is very inward-looking and that’s fine, but mine is the opposite.
Trans singer Nye Todd, who plays music in a transgender-themed rock band, described the video as “really refreshing,” while other trans characters have also praised Young’s work.
Young told The Independent that popular music offers a special platform to start conversations about controversial subjects.
“There are few things that are universal,” he told the paper. “Music is one and sport is another because of the reach it has. I’ve always looked at music, particularly music videos, as reflections, my reflections on the world.”
Nye Todd told the newspaper, “Music is very accessible and you get people who wouldn’t maybe sit down and read a book, but if you can write a really catchy song, they’ll listen. You can pack a big message into a short song.”