By Larry Olsen
“The truth is, most things in life happen for no reason at all, and are completely out of our control,” Tom Goss reflects. “There will be sweet times and sad, highs and lows. I embrace every experience, even those that aren’t pleasant, because ultimately, I am happy with who I am today. I’ve been shaped by them all and so therefore, all of them have been good.”
In his new album, Remember What It Feels Like, Tom Goss digs deep into the man he is today. At 42 years old, he is still reeling from his husband’s infidelity. He’s begun dating but was recently conned by a lover with a secret life who is now serving time in prison.
Goss also takes on his personal struggles in Remember What It Feels Like, like in “Enemy of Good,” the album’s first single, where he recounts his lifelong obsession with striving for perfection. “Even as a kid, I would get frustrated when I felt I fell short on a goal, and my mother would say, ‘Tom, the perfect is the enemy of the good.’ It struck me as powerful, and I continue to notice that my need to achieve perfection does little in the way of producing art, or happiness. Joy and creativity flow when I allow myself to be imperfect.”
We spoke with Tom Goss from his home in Los Angeles.
You have been singing your truth for more than fifteen years. Nine albums and 39 music videos later, what are your thoughts on music today?
Tom Goss: Music today is better than it’s ever been at any point in history. Pop, rock, folk, R&B, you name it. You just have to spend some time rifling through the noise to find what speaks to you.
You are one of the OG queer artists.
Tom Goss: It’s a completely different world from when I first started out. Since my first record in 2006, I’ve been open about my sexuality. It used to mean that opportunities were limited. Major music labels wouldn’t touch me and venues would say “we don’t book faggots”, but that’s all changed. These days it seems like everyone is queer. It almost feels like if you’re not queer, you’re boring, and not worth talking about. Now the question is who is pretending to be queer to get clicks?
Is forty the new twenty?
Tom Goss: I do not like aging, especially how my body is deteriorating. I love being active and physical, that brings me more joy than anything else in the world. Unfortunately, I’m having to be selective in how active I can be from day to day. How many times I can workout, play soccer, go for a run or bike ride. I have to really stay focused on my mobility, flexibility, and diet. It’s a chore! Nevertheless, I love who I am. I appreciate the wisdom, confidence, and perspective that has come from my experience on this earth. I wouldn’t change a thing.
What would you like today’s young gay generation to know about you?
Tom Goss: I simply want everyone to see me as an authentic human. Someone who lives with passion, intention, and integrity. Someone who does his best to make the world a better place. I’d want young people to know that is possible. They don’t have to be anyone but who they are to be loved and valued.
Your authenticity is what helped make you famous. You sang about your fetish for big, hairy men long before sexualizing bears was a thing.
Tom Goss: I’ve always been open about my sexuality but one thing I’d love to clear up is that I don’t regard my attraction to bears as a fetish, just as I don’t regard my attraction to men as a fetish. My husband, who is a bear, has been my companion throughout my entire career. He has constantly been by my side and is my biggest supporter. I wouldn’t dream of betraying our love on the off chance that it would make me more famous. I made “Bears” because there was a lack of visibility for gay men of size, and I was tired of seeing the beauty I see every day, ignored. I knew I could do something about it, so I did.
That’s a fair point. Do you believe you would get the same reaction from listeners today?
Tom Goss: No, probably not. These days, people are used to seeing different shapes, sizes, sexualities, and colors portrayed in the media. We’re not where we need to be yet, but we are on our way. Representation is less surprising and more expected. I’m happy that people are demanding representation. Everyone deserves representation.
What is like to be back in the dating field?
Tom Goss: My husband Mike was the first person I ever dated. We are still married and are closing in on 18 years together. We are now navigating an open marriage and like anything, it has its good points and bad. I can say that I’m extremely grateful to not be single and dating in Los Angeles. It seems really rough out there.
How did you get caught up with a conman?
Tom Goss: I fell in love. I want to say I fell in love with the wrong person, but I’m not sure that’s true. Life is unexpected. We can try to control every variable, but it’s simply not possible. And truthfully, why would we want to? We only have this moment. We can focus on that which has hurt us and close ourselves to future experiences, or we can choose to be open, to love more fully and authentically, allowing ourselves to be vulnerable. I will always choose vulnerability.