Rob Townsend Tackles Latent Homophobia by Being His Uncensored Self in "U Can Be My Lover"

How a sex scene turned into a wider call for people to confront the things that make them uncomfortable.

by Noisey Staff
03 October 2016, 11:00am

When a large chunk of today's charts are made up of joyless minimal covers of former dancefloor bangers, it can sometimes feel like pop music has lost its vibrancy. But then something comes around, like a ray of sunshine through a dense canopy of trash, to remind you that music is actually alright.

Rob Townsend went from playing in a successful Americana band called The Belleville Outfit in Texas to New York City, where he came out, and is now enjoying a solo career making glorious indie-pop. Below we're premiering his new video for "U Can Be My Lover", which sounds a bit like Animal Collective remixed a Scissor Sisters song. The video touches on concepts of identity and intimacy, as well as being a direct confrontation of latent homophobia faced by Rob personally and by the LGBTQ community at large. And he did it all by being brave in his pants.

Here is the story behind it, in his own words:

"I originally designed the video to follow the lyrics of the song, which is about a one-night stand. But as we got deeper into the filming and I found myself in my underwear about to act out a gay sex scene (I hesitate to even call it that, because for me it's just a "sex scene"), I realised that I was pretty uncomfortable with what I was about to do and the fact that a lot of people were going to see it – my family included. Though I think, as an artist, if you're not making yourself uncomfortable, then you're wasting your time. 

It wasn't until some family and friends told me that they were concerned showing that scene would adversely affect my career – which implicitly carries with it, 'because it will make straight people uncomfortable' – did I realise the video was more important than I'd ever imagined. Personally, it's allowed me to address that bit of latent homophobia with the people closest to me, and in a larger sense. If I can get people to confront the things that make them uncomfortable, then I'm doing my job well."

Give it a watch below.

"U Can Be My Lover" is taken from How To Write An Album in 14 Days, which is out now​.