I’m a musician. I’m also gay. However, my sexual identity is not all consuming. It’s just a piece of me. I think this has a lot to do with the fact that I had a positive experience when I came out. I was 17 and my parents figured it out before I was ready to tell them. I remember going to see a psychiatrist. Some people attach a negative connotation to seeing a psychiatrist. I think taking care of your mental health is the smartest, most critical thing you can do for yourself. Coming out to my friends was different than coming out to my parents. I remember trying to tell my college roommate for the first time. I cried. I sat with her and cried for two hours. I didn’t want to say the words out loud. It got easier the more I did it and the answer was usually the same. The already knew and they didn’t care. Sure I lost a few friends along the way. But were they really friends?
I remember feeling like a weight had been lifted off my shoulder. Finally I can talk about it! The first song I ever wrote was about a girl. I used gender-neutral pronouns so no one could figure it out. I don’t do that anymore. I’m proud to write songs about my wife. I even wrote one to propose to her. I talk about her and our love on stage in front of hundreds of people without batting an eye or giving it a second thought.
I had a very different experience than most people do. I’ve probably had a more positive experience than most people have. I’ve never really felt discriminated against. I’ve felt supported and loved. I realized when I was about to release my EP, ECHO, that just because I was OK didn’t mean that everyone else was. So I opened the door for people. I offered support on stage. I talked about how important it is to love yourself and take care of yourself. I allowed my music to be a universal language that we shared and the response was incredible. People would tell me their stories when I got off stage. We connected and I was able to help support people the way I was supported.
It’s kind of crazy but when I think about how I felt when we were going to release my new EP, Fire. It felt similar to coming out. I was scared to release these songs. I was worried people wouldn’t like them so I wanted to keep them for myself. I wanted to keep them secret so no one could judge me. It’s an awful feeling. But I can’t let fear dictate what I do and with the gentle nudge of my manager I released this EP.
The title track Fire is about life and how often you need to pick yourself back up after being broken. As I get older, I have learned how to cope better. We, as individuals, need to keep our internal lights burning. No one else can do that for you. Life is short so it's critical to feed your soul, enjoy what you do, and figure out what lights you up. “I am the keeper of my flame.” It’s so important to know your truth, live it, and be proud.
I know my story is different than that of many others. I am grateful for the support I’ve had throughout the process. As important as having support from others is, it is also crucial to support yourself. Be yourself. Depend on yourself. Choose to be happy. Surround yourself with happy, positive people. Value and love yourself, be kind to everyone you meet. Be a bright light in the world.
Andrea Nardello is an award-winning folk musician hailing from Philadelphia. Nardello recently released her new EP, Fire, earlier this month. It's the follow-up to her 2014 EP, ECHO. Be sure to check out Nardello on Facebook and Twitter. You can pick up her new EP, Fire, wherever you love grabbing your music.
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