There’s a completely bonkers story bubbling up from the world of country music that illustrates a lot of things, either about the fluidity of human sexuality, or the never-ending American capacity for human reinvention, or the moral and creative bankruptcy of the music industry. Or possibly all three.
Here’s what happening according to website WeHo Confidential, which broke the story: Years ago, starting around 2006, there was a rising country singer named Josey Greenwell. Greenwell positioned himself as an openly gay country music star- maybe not the first, but certainly one of the first. He gave media interviews, appeared on talk shows, and performed at Gay Pride events. He was even romantically linked to a male reality star.
The effort to break out, however, didn’t seem to succeed; I know that until this week, I had never heard of Josey Greenwell.
This summer, a new country singer known as Nate Green emerged- and he and Josey Greenwood are the same person. The other twist is that “Green,” at least in his public presentation and music videos, is not gay at all. The “Josey Greenwell” online presence has been completely scrubbed; “Nate Green” now has over 31,000 Twitter followers, and his feed makes no mention of his past. It’s mostly focused on a hashtag effort to get him verified on Twitter, as well as Nate returning the flirtatious attention of girls and women.
So there are a few possibilities as to what happened here. Perhaps Greenwell/Green is bisexual. Possibily he’s an “ex-gay,” although that path tends to be a of a Christian nature, and Green’s social media presence makes no mention of anything religious. Maybe he still is gay but decided, for the sake of his career, to pretend not to be.
Or, the other possibility is that Greenwell/Green was never gay at all, merely posed as homosexual as some sort of marketing/packaging gimmick, and dropped the whole thing once it didn’t succeed- think Lizzie Grant/Lana Del Rey- you know, if Lizzie had been an out lesbian under her past identity. But if that’s the case, I’m just wondering who thought being gay in the world of country music would lead to more success as opposed to less.
I’m also curious how Green thought he could get away with this repackaging without anyone noticing. And if he ever gets very famous, he’s going to have to provide some sort of explanation as to how exactly he went from being gay Josey Greenwell to straight Nate Green.
Whatever happened here, there’s something deeply American about this story. It’s Dick Whitman/Don Draper all over again- the American tradition of shedding one identity in favor of another.
(Note: This article originally mistakenly referred to Green’s former name as “Josey Greenwood.”