I discovered this song/video a couple weeks ago. I know there are a number of young Country music artists who are more inclusive of LGBTQ people and issues, but this is the first time I’ve heard a performer talk about their music being explicitly about a same-sex couple. (Here’s a link to the interview with Billboard.) It reminds me just how important representation in media and popular culture really is. If you never see people who look/feel/think/behave like you in the culture you consume, the subliminal message is that you are both inferior and invisible. If you do see people who look/feel/think/behave like you, then you have role models and the subliminal message is that you are both seen and worthy of being seen. That you are normal and not some kind of a freak. I’m sure “Burn That Bridge” is going to matter in that way for some young gay dude in the middle of cowboy country who thinks he’s the only guy who ever felt this way. Representation matters.
But issues of representation aside, here’s what I really like about Donovan Woods’ song and video: 1) It’s a pretty damn good song–nice emotion, good slow build; 2) Those young men are fantastic dancers. Yeah, representation in media and popular culture matters, but it helps if that representation is attached to culture that refuses to stereotype the people it portrays and is quality entertainment. This one scores on all counts.