Even in a community outwardly campaigning for inclusion and acceptance, exclusion and judgement still exist on a personal level. Now, Bright Light Bright Light is shedding a light on his experience with that phenomenon within the LGBTQ community.
In a new interview with Attitude, singer-songwriter Rod Thomas (Bright Light Bright Light’s off-stage name) spoke candidly about his experience trying to “fit in” among the gay community, and how he says he’s struggled with being ostracized in queer spaces.
“Feeling like I belonged within the gay community I think has been a bit of a struggle,” he said. “The LGBTQ+ community is such a vast umbrella; everyone is so different and trying to work out where you belong within that is hard. It kind of presumes that everybody queer gets on with each other, which they don’t, and that everyone is alike, which they’re not.”
When he began his music career in London, Thomas worked as a DJ at gay nightclubs, where he says patrons often called him “boring” due to the fact that he didn’t partake in the “drug-heavy” culture of nightclubs. “It was really crushing,” he said. “I felt like even at some of my own DJ sets at nights I was performing at, I wasn’t deemed ‘cool enough.’”
Thomas also said that he wasn’t considered “body-appropriate” to some in the community, which made him constantly feel like he was an outsider within a space built for him. “It doesn’t matter because those people don’t matter,” he explained. “But I found that a huge struggle — feeling invisible or not welcome in queer spaces — even more heart-breaking than not being welcome in heterosexual spaces, because these spaces are there for everybody that needs them.”
That’s why, he explained, Bright Light Bright Light’s upcoming album Fun City (due out this Friday, Sept. 18) examines the resilience of queer people throughout history, and how overcoming oppression and discrimination only occurs when the community sticks together.
“The message is: You should all be welcome in the place you choose as your home or your safe space, everybody deserves to be welcome there and everybody needs to check themselves to make sure that they’re not being exclusionary,” he said.