24-Karat Queer


By Jason Lamphier

You expected acceptance?

Yeah, especially from gay record executives.

So even the gay record executives'

Unfortunately they were the worst'gay record executives, gay producers, huge big-name people that were very out themselves. These were not closeted gay people'these were out gay people'yet they didn't think I should be out or that what I had to say was going to sell.

The album cover is a little different for you.

Transport Systems, the album, is really about moving forward and progress. On the album cover I'm wearing a flight suit with an Army helmet. It was to connote this idea of transportation, but it's also about the fight'the fight we have to go through to be who we are, the fight for our basic civil rights. I didn't know how the photos were going to come out and when the photographer sent me that photo'I just love it because I have this look like someone just said 'The war is over.' There's hope in it, I think.
Transport is about moving forward and progression. I also think it's political. Who I am is a political issue. I can't run away from that. A lot of musicians say they don't want to deal with politics, but to me great music has always come along with a message and something to say about the world we live in. And obviously we're in a war. My album doesn't have anything to do with the war in Iraq, but it does have to do with the war to be who we are. 'Transport Me' [the song] is about a utopia where we're not fighting for the things we're currently fighting for. And I think if you don't try to envision it, if you don't try to have the hope that it can exist, how can it ever really happen? You have to imagine these things in order for them to happen. I like the fact that it even touched on the actual physical war that we're having and imagining that it's going to end'that we actually can be free.

That wasn't your initial intention?

It wasn't my initial intention, but you have to recognize that if you're doing any sort of military thing, you have to think about the fact that we're actually in a war and there are people actually wearing this stuff fighting this war. I was happy that [the cover] functioned on multiple levels, because I was talking about gay identity, but there's all this other stuff in the world going on, and to me it's all the same thing. Not to be clich' about it, but it is about love and freedom, and that's what we're fighting for.

Do you think Transport Systems is your gayest album yet?

It's definitely my gayest album yet. And without sounding too boastful, I think it's the gayest album ever. The content of the album deals with so many issues that speak to so many gay men. On one hand we really are all different from each other, which is why it's so important that there be more artists giving their voices on what it means to them to be gay. However, in some respects I feel like I'm a very stereotypical homo. I am the homo who's a Madonna fan, who grew up loving The Wizard of Oz, and so that does speak to a lot of us'clich's, stereotypes, or not. And I don't necessarily think that anyone who doesn't like Madonna or didn't like The Wizard of Oz can't relate to the things that I could tell you about either. I feel like I'm talking about so many things that we go through as gay men. The first song is about that feeling of not being the person that you're supposed to be and wanting to transport yourself to a different place or time where who you are is OK. Everyone can relate to that. It's pretty much across the board, unless you were one of those very rare gay men who had gay parents or parents who were progressive. Unless you were in those two situations you grew up feeling like something about you was not OK. The world is still telling us that, the government is still telling us that, that's what that song's about. If I can't change these things, I want to learn how to move through it to the other side. It's a daily project to be proud of who you are. I'd like to say that I'm there, but I'm not there yet. We need to make some progress.

Transport Systems (Gold 18) hits stores October 2.