With New Single, “God Loves Me, Too,” Artist Extends a Welcoming Hand
By Dale Henry Geist
Remember “the gay kid” from School of Rock? He’s all grown up now and making country music, and with his new single, “God Loves Me, Too,” Brian Falduto is looking to make a real difference in the lives of queer kids of faith like he once was.
With “God Loves Me, Too,” Falduto has crafted a message in a bottle that he hopes will wash up on the shore of that lonely kid who’s feeling the anguish of knowing that they’re unwelcome in the very church that’s meant so much to them. A message so powerful that the Hollywood heavy-hitters he worked with in School of Rock – Jack Black, Richard Linklater, and Scott Rudin – offered to help him get it out to the public.
I caught up with Brian recently (each of us from the safety of his own lair, mine on the West Coast, his on the East) to ask him about the story behind the song. I found him to be guileless and completely forthcoming – a quintessential theater kid.
DHG: Let me first ask you about the idea for the song. Tell me about the moment that that idea first popped into your head.
BF: Yeah, so I grew up in church. Church was always a huge part of my life. I would wake up on Sundays at 5:00 AM and I would lead all the services as a vocalist. And I went to Catholic school and literally 45 minutes of every school day was theology class. It was just a big part of who I was. And then when I came out and started to find my voice as a gay man – I feel like a lot of people in the LGBTQ community go through this – I started to distance myself from the church because it became clear that if I wanted to be part of the church, I would have to change. And that kind of counteracted this self-acceptance that I seemed to be going through.
I then started to hear the rumors that they were more accepting in other churches. I thought, well, maybe I’ll check one of those out sometime. And I was in LA for some projects and I had some days off and I was new to town, but I didn’t really know anyone. So I decided I’d wander into a church and see if I liked it. I Googled LGBT-friendly churches, and I found one called the Hollywood United Methodist Church. And I went there eight or nine Sundays in a row. And it was just a really beautifully nostalgic experience for me. Often I would just go there and sit down and cry for the whole service because…[trails off]
Every Sunday they made it a point to let us know that LGBTQ persons are welcome there. And they would have a rainbow flag hanging above the door, and it just felt really cool to be able to be myself and to be there. But then I had this moment where I was like, “You know, there’s a kid somewhere in a church that doesn’t know that this is gonna be an option for them one day.” And I went home and I wrote the song in 20 minutes. Cause I was just so fueled by the fact that I really wanted to let that kid somewhere know that it’s not always going to be as limited as it feels right now.
DHG: And the phrase, “God loves me, too,” did that pop into your head at that moment or did that come later?
BF: I don’t remember. While I was writing the song, I just remember feeling really inspired. I don’t know if I had as clear goal upon writing it, the advocacy that the song could have, but it was clear in that moment that I had just come so far from when I thought that there were no options other than to change. And so I wanted to write it down, and that’s kind of what my music has always been: a way of reflecting on my experience; discovering things and kind of bookmarking them into songs, like putting chapters of my story into songs. So that just felt like a really pivotal moment, to be, like, “Wow, things are different and there are options out there.”
DHG: Right. So once you had that song written, how did you go about getting that nice professional production?
BF: As soon as I wrote the song, I just had this vision of it being told in a music video first. And that’s the way it would be released. The lyric really lends itself to this short-film style story. And I thought that we could really help illustrate that beautifully in a music video. And so I thought, well, I guess I have to get this together. I’m an independent artist, so I reached out to a lot of people and I shared the song with them via a demo.
And it was then that I just kind of started to realize the power of the song, because – I’ve come to a lot of people with demos, and usually it’s, “Oh, we’ll take a look.” But this time people heard the song and they were like, “Oh, I’m going to give you money to make this happen.” Or, “Oh, I want to be a part of this.” It was very reinforcing that I was onto something here, not just as an artist, but as something bigger that needed to be said, you know? And so people wanted to hop on board, which was cool. And the project has been fairly seamless, which has never happened for me before.
DHG: So tell me a little bit more about the story behind making the video, Brian.
BF: I had to get the funding for it, so I reached out to the people I had worked with on “School of Rock”. And I had a friend who’s a film producer who I met through an LGBTQ film festival. I met up with her and I told her about it and she was like, “I’m in.” I thought, “Great, ’cause I know nothing about producing music videos.” And then I reached out to a director that I worked on a web series with, because I remember really vibing with her on that. So we had the initial team together and then it was just about making it happen, which again, I’m an independent artist, so basically I have to recruit everything, from my mom catering the entire day to you know, 60 background actors, all of whom were literally volunteering their time, because they cared about what we were trying to do with the song.
We filmed the video on October 27th and I remember it was literally my favorite day that I’ve ever been a part of. I remember going to sleep so content, you know? Over a hundred people came together for a 13-hour shoot day to make this happen. Most of whom were involved completely free of charge. I think that speaks to to the song and also just to people wanting to make a change with this message.
DHG: Yeah. That’s fantastic. So what are your hopes for this song and the video?
BF: Obviously I have the artist’s ego and I’d love for it to do well, but honestly I’ve never had something that feels so important in my pocket, as far as a message that I think people need to hear. So my big goal is to make sure it gets to some of those queer youth of faith that feel ostracized and feel like they need to change. And I just want them to let them know that they are loved just as they are.
DHG: That’s great, Brian. Thank you so much for your time.
BF: Thank you!