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"It's Imperative That I Speak my Truth" : GVF Singer Josh Kiszka Comes Out to Fans, Opposes Laws

CREDIT: Erika Goldring/Getty Images

Written by: Stef Curran

Ever since their inception, Greta Van Fleet has been a band focused on nurturing love, the necessity of it, and the important of sharing it to those around us. The Peaceful Army, the name given to the fan base, is centered around peace, love, and unity. From beautiful songs like Light My Love, Heat Above, and Anthem, it isn't hard to fall into their intoxicating message of love and kindness - which is highly needed in the world we live in today. However, it's safe to say that fans of the band were surprised to read a post that was published on June 20th to the lead singers Instagram.

Speaking His Truth

On Tuesday, Josh Kiszka posted a photo of him performing with captivating rainbow lights swirling around him on his Instagram account. Under the stunning photo was a caption that began "Where I've settled a home in Tennessee, legislators are proposing bills that threaten the freedom of love. It's imperative that I speak my truth for not only myself, but in hopes to change hearts, minds, and laws in Tennessee and beyond."

Following this, the singer wrote "These issues are especially close to my heart as I've been in a loving, same-sex relationship with my partner for the past 8 years. Those close to me are well aware, but it's important to me to share publicly."

Kiszka goes on to discuss the rights that are being infringed upon by anti-trans and anti-2SLGBTQI+ laws popping up in states across the US, and even in Canada with Premier Higgs in New Brunswick attacking queer acceptance and education in schools. Kiszka amplifies organizations in Tennessee who are doing incredible work for 2SLGBTQI+ communities, congratulating them on the work they're doing and calling on fans to get involved in fighting back against these laws.

For Kiszka, these laws represent not only an attack on a persons right to be who they are, but it attacks the very meaning of love, pushing more hate and bigotry where it doesn't belong.

He goes on to say "The LGBTQ+ community is a cultural pillar, constantly championing positivity and acceptance through art, music, literature, film, and most importantly, legislation. All along, as fans rallied around their enhanced message of love and acceptance, Kiszka stood as a crucial piece of that pillar and now he can finally stand proud as who he and what he stands for.

As a fan, and as a queer person, I felt a huge wave of love and pride for the singer to finally be able to share with the world the love he has felt for the last eight years. To know that he can now live his life without secrecy or fear of being outed before he was ready brings warmness to all queer individuals and queer allies who know the importance of owning that narrative and having that moment be 100% yours.

Many comments bordering the negative side of the message state things like "Really? Wow who would have thought" or "We all knew" commenting on the way Kiszka presents himself on stage. This forces the narrative that queerness can be defined by image and style, which we know is not true. All of the Greta Van Fleet band members frequently wear makeup and jewels, along with fabulous custom made garments that unify the band's message and their style. Fans were just graced with the bands single Sacred the Thread off of their upcoming fourth studio album Starcatcher, which highlights the importance of the clothes we wear and the spiritual beauty that comes with wearing clothes that make you feel confident.

But also as a queer artist, I also began to wonder if he felt he had to keep this news secret until the band had reached a secure place in their legacy to be able to share this piece of him with fans. There are many factors at play when going through the music industry and wanting to be accepted and seen as your music, not who you are. We often see with queer musicians, much like Freddie Mercury, they feel they have to wait to establish themselves before being open about who they are. My only hope is that this decision was completely his to make and he was free to announce this whenever he felt safest too. The main thing is that now the band and their fans can continue to celebrate love with an even deeper meaning behind the lyrics penned for each beautiful song in their discography.

The previous post that Kiszka refers to in his coming out post that garnered support is the one shown above that he posted the day before. While not "coming out", the photo and caption point to the cerebration of love, focusing on queer love as shown by the rainbow lights and especially as it is Pride Month. I definitely looked at it and thought "hmm" like many others, but the singers sexuality doesn't change the power and legacy of Greta Van Fleet; it only makes it stronger and fuller.

Up until this post, Greta Van Fleet, like many bands, were pretty silent on political issues and the political nature of the world, using their music to amplify their main message which always is the importance and beauty of love. Never too late, as Kiszka shows fans the importance of using our voices to push for inclusion, education, and love for all.

All the Support in the World

The most beautiful thing about the singers post is the comment section. Greta Van Fleet's music and talent have allowed them to assemble a fan base that isn't just teen girls like you may believe, but a wide range of fans from all ages, backgrounds, countries, and communities. With a sound that is often compared to Led Zeppelin (which is not a bad thing, by the way), to being the opening act while touring with mega metal and rock band Metallica, Greta Van Fleet proves to fans of all ages that their message and music is far reaching and all encompassing. Knowing this, and being a super fan myself (yes ok, I do have a GVF finger tattoo, you caught me), I knew that the comment section would be full of love and support. I was right.

The comments are stuffed with personal stories from queer fans and how GVF has always made them feel safe, to fans thanking the singer for speaking up and telling his story, and of course a lot of hell ya's, letting Kiszka know how much the fans support him. The comments aren't only from fans, but other bands, some of which they've played side by side with, applauding Kiszka on his message and standing by his side as the hateful side of the internet slips in through the cracks. And while I have seen a few hateful comments, I must say, the majority of the comments around this post and the singers coming out has been positive and loving. Some even have compared him to Freddie Mercury, which I would love to also amplify, not only in his openness, but also in his out of this world vocals that only continue to get better.

Support from Other Queer Artists

Another comment left on the post was one from heavy metal icon, Judas Priest vocalist Rob Halford, who himself came out in 1998 to fans on MTV. Love and acceptance isn't always the first message in heavy metal songs, but Halford was respected and is a blazing staple in the history of queer music.

In 2018, the band was personally invited by Sir. Elton John to perform for his Academy Awards Party, even being joined by the singer for a rendition of his classic hit Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting and a performance of GVF's song You're The One. After the performance, the band was met with one piece of advice from the performer; "If you got it, flaunt it."

A part of me believes that this little phrase of support and guidance helped all members of the band realize that they are different, but they are different in a way that is so unique and important in terms of how we see rock and roll music. Even if you took away the make up, elaborate costumes, and beautiful light displays at their shows, the band still has enough power to hold their own and stand their ground, even in front of hardcore Metallica fans. They got it, and they sure as hell are flaunting it. I know Sir. Elton John is proud of Kiszka for speaking up and fighting against these horrendous legislations.

Thank You, Josh

Greta Van Fleet has always been an extremely talented band, busting down barriers and concurring challenges that they faced, playing into the wild world of the internet and allowing their new fans to listen and fall in love, listening to the Led Zeppelin comparison a million times (which again, in itself is pretty impressive), and overall being a band that is truly a family and creates that family atmosphere across all parts of their Peaceful Army.

I speak from my heart when I say thank you, Josh Kiszka.

Thank you for feeling ready to share with us fans a piece of you that we are all so proud of.

Thank you for adding your phenomenal voice to the long list of iconic queer musicians who blow open doors for other queer artists to get their start.

Thank you for speaking up against laws that target queer culture and infringe on the human rights of the trans and 2SLGBTQI+ community.

Thank you for showing how important it is for artists to use their voices and stand up for communities.

And most importantly, thank you for always bringing the fans back to love, showing us why love is extremely important and must be nourished and shared.

As a fan, I am honoured to know that the beautiful, deep love you sing about every night to a crowd of roaring fans is the same love you get to experience every single day.

“Where there is love, we will live on. And where there is not love, we must provide it.”


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