Bright Light Bright Light, aka Rod Thomas, may be musically inspired by the LGBTQ+ community – but he hasn’t always felt like he fit in.
“Feeling like I belonged within the gay community I think has been a bit of a struggle. The LGBTQ+ community is such a vast umbrella; everyone is so different and trying to work out where you belong within that is hard,” he begins.
“It kind of presumes that everybody queer gets on with each other, which they don’t, and that everyone is alike, which they’re not.”
Whilst hitting the decks as a DJ, Rod - who is set to release fourth studio album Fun City on 18 September - says he was often dismissed as “boring” for not getting involved in the drug culture of nightlife.
“I’m one of those people that loves nightlife and dancing and making music, but I also don’t do drugs and I don’t go to a place that a lot of people do, and at some points nightlife was very drug-heavy,” he recalls.
“People, often in London, called me ‘boring’ on more than one occasion – on more than 10 occasions, probably. I would be DJing and I was looked at as the boring DJ, and it was really crushing. I felt like even at some of my own DJ sets at nights I was performing at, I wasn’t deemed ‘cool enough.’”
Growing up in the Welsh valleys, but now based in New York, Rod, 37, also puts the needle on the problem of body-shaming.
“I’m not 'body-appropriate' for people in these spaces. I don’t go to the gym in a way that a lot of people do, and I know I am invisible to a huge section of the LGBTQ+ community,” he reflects.
“It doesn’t matter because those people don’t matter, but I found that a huge struggle, feeling invisible or not welcome in queer spaces, even more heart-breaking than not being welcome in heterosexual spaces, because these spaces are there for everybody that needs them.”
Rod – who toured with Cher last year and has collaborated with Sir Elton John and Scissor Sisters – adds that a sense of belonging is a major theme throughout his new album, Fun City, which includes the rainbow-coloured anthem, ‘It’s Alright, It’s Okay' (featuring Caveboy).
“It’s about how queer people through history have had to find ways to laugh, celebrate themselves, stay strong, stay creative and grow against the hurdles that life has put up for them, whether that is fighting for rights, or having rights taken away,” he explains.
“The message is: you should all be welcome in the place you choose as your home or your safe space, everybody deserves to be welcome there and everybody needs to check themselves to make sure that they’re not being exclusionary,” he urges.
Now, that’s a message we can get behind.