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Why Tyler Childers Put a Gay Love Story in His New Video

Silas House, the poet laureate of Kentucky, was on a car ride with Tyler Childers when the songwriter pressed play on a new song he’d recorded called “In Your Love.” House was floored by what he heard. But then Childers made a request: Would House — an acclaimed author whose first novel, 2001’s Clay’s Quilt, had helped shape Childers’ appreciation for their shared home state —write a particular storyline for the song’s music video?

“He said he would like to have it be a gay love story, mainly because his first cousin who’s like a brother to him is gay, and he wanted him to see himself in a country music video,” House tells Rolling Stone. “When he said that, I just thought, ‘So many other people have never seen themselves in a country music video. This would be pretty incredible, to have that kind of representation.’”

House and his husband, the journalist Jason Kyle Howard, came up with the idea of two coal miners who fall in love in 1950s Appalachia and, to flee the violent ostracism of their fellow miners, leave not for the city but for the country, where they become farmers.

“It’s very rare to see LGBT people portrayed in a rural place,” House continues. “The idea is that most LGBT people escape or have to go to the city. And that is true for a lot of people: We have historically sought the safety of cities. There’s strength in numbers. But there are also lots and lots of LGBTQ people who live in rural places, and who live in the South, and who live in Appalachia.”

“In Your Love” stars Colton Haynes as Jasper and James Scully as Matthew, the gay couple whose burgeoning relationship — from stolen glances in the mines to some steamy bedroom scenes in the farmhouse — frames the video. Both Haynes and Scully are gay (in a behind-the-scenes video for the production, House calls them “two leads who are important in the queer community”), and they threw themselves into director Bryan Schlam’s instructions to simply act like two people in love.

In one scene in a crop field, Jasper and Matthew begin playfully tossing seeds at each other; in another, while watching Childers and his band the Food Stamps perform in a bar, they furtively touch pinkies. Both are simple human expressions of love, but when depicted in a country music video they have the potential to be life-altering.

“I’m from Kansas, a super-small town of 600 people,” says Haynes, best known for his role as Arsenal in CW’s superhero series Arrow. “This video not only delivers on the story, but also shines a spotlight on a community that really hasn’t had a spotlight shined on it in this genre of music. If I was a kid and seeing something like that, maybe it wouldn’t have been so difficult for me, and maybe it would have made me feel a lot more accepted. That might sound a little corny or grandiose, because it’s a music video, but things like that really do matter.”

Scully, who was immersed in country music growing up in Texas but often felt disillusioned by the ways the genre could feel regressive or exclusionary, praises Childers for the directness of the video’s convention-busting message.

“For those kids growing up in those places, it’s like, ‘If I’m so wrong and broken and sick, why is Tyler Childers writing a song about the endurance of my love?’” Scully says. “In this day and age where everything is so muddied and watered down and confused, Tyler has real, tangible power and desire to heal people and fix things. There’s only, like, six other people I can think of like that right now.”

But while all three men note Childers’ “true allyship” — “We’re so used to a lot of performative allyship,” Haynes says — they couldn’t help but be concerned about the response the country singer might receive to showing two men passionately kissing in a music video, even in the year 2023. “We were texting, and I said, ‘I have to be honest, I was really worried for you,’” Haynes recalls. “But people are sticking up for Tyler, basically saying, ‘This is what real outlaw country is.’”

Silas House, the creative director of the “In Your Love” video, poses with Tyler Childers. Photo: Emma Delevante*

House acknowledges some blowback to the video. “There has been quite a bit of hatred that’s reared its head in response,” he says. “But what is so wonderful is that the love has far outweighed the hatred.”


House, whose novel Southernmost is currently being made into a feature film, saw the positive reaction firsthand when, not long after Childers premiered the music video for “In Your Love,” he and his husband went to see Barbie at a movie theater near their home in Lexington, Kentucky. They were quickly swarmed by well-wishers.

“They gathered around us in tears, thanking us that there’s a country music video that they see themselves in,” he says. “People often ask me about the political nature about this. There shouldn’t be anything political about two people in love.”

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