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Kentucky natives Tyler Childers and Silas House have collaborated on a new project: a music video for Childers’ latest single, “In Your Love,” released Thursday.
In the video, actors Colton Haynes and James Scully play two men in rural Appalachia who meet and fall in love while working as coal miners in the 1950s. Facing backlash from other miners and community members, the two continue to fall for each other and build a life and farm together.
“Honey I will wait for you,” Childers sings. “Honey I will stand my ground.”
House, along with his husband Jason Kyle Howard, wrote and provided creative direction for the video, which was directed by Bryan Schlam. House is the current Poet Laureate of Kentucky, and the recipient of the 2022 Duggins Prize, the largest award for an LGBTQ writer in the nation.
“To our knowledge it is the first-ever country music video with a gay storyline to be released by a major label,” House wrote on Instagram.
House said they wanted to “represent Appalachia in its full complexity,” and tell a story of people who live in Appalachia but have not before been represented on screen.
“There are all kinds of different people in Appalachia and rural America, and they very rarely see themselves in the media, in film or TV, or especially in country music videos,” House told the Herald-Leader.
‘A human story that is rarely seen’
At a time when Kentucky has seen an increase in anti-LGBTQ legislation and sentiments, House said he hopes the video will be “a balm” for people who are hurting.
“Even if you have the privilege of walking through this world unfazed, it’s more important than ever to stand with and for and up for things, to be vocal,” Childers told NPR this week.
Gender-affirming health care for transgender youth was outlawed in the state earlier this summer after a federal judge reversed an order blocking the statewide ban. Senate Bill 150 also banned gender identity and sexual orientation instruction in schools, and became law in Kentucky this year.
“Visibility matters,” House said. “I think a lot of people are hurting. A lot of people do feel abandoned and hurt by the current situation. We thought of it more as a balm for people, a way for them to see themselves.”
But more importantly, House and Howard said they wanted to tell a love story set in Appalachia. Childers pitched the idea for the music video to House, and asked him to work on developing the story. Howard came up with the idea for the two main characters to be coal miners.
“I thought it would be a great metaphor to see two young men working underground, working in the darkness, living in the darkness, having a secret life, and discovering each other, and then seeing where that led — it led into the light,” Howard said.
“It’s a gay love story, yes, but more than that, it’s a love story,” House said. “It’s about gay people who love where they’re from, and they don’t want to leave it. Those men could have left, not only the coal mines, but they could have left the area. They chose to stay. A whole lot of people have done that, despite discrimination, because they love where they’re from.”
There are personal touches in the video, too. House, Howard and Childers used family photographs as inspiration for outfits in the video, making sure they were true to the time period but also true to what people really wore. The cast is also made up of Appalachians and Kentuckians who represented the region, House said.
“We just wanted to tell a human story that is rarely seen,” House said. “Tyler Childers is one of the great storytellers of our time, especially rural stories. This is another rural story that needs to be seen.”
Country music has long been a part of House and Howard’s lives. Howard said he grew up watching Country Music Television, but never saw himself represented on screen as a gay man.
“I can’t imagine, looking back, what that might have given me, to have been able to see that essential part of myself reflected, and how affirming that would have been for me,” Howard said. “I hope now that LGBTQ people who have often felt neglected or not represented can see a part of their selves reflected in this story. I know for myself, that would have been powerful for me.”
Childers’ album “Rustin’ In the Rain” will release Sept. 8. This week he announced two shows in Rupp Arena had been added to his sold-out tour, on Dec. 30 and 31. Childers, originally from Lawrence County, was the headline performer at the Railbird Music Festival earlier this year.
“This is a collection of songs I playfully pieced together as if I was pitching a group of songs to Elvis,” Childers said in a news release. “Some covers, one co-write, and some I even wrote in my best (terrible) Elvis impersonation, as I worked around the farm and kicked around the house. I hope you enjoy listening to this album as much as I enjoyed creating it. Thank you. Thank you very much.”
This tale was originally revealed July 28, 2023, 12:42 PM.