“Being here today almost feels like being a part of Stonewall,” he said. “This is a wonderful time to be a part of.”
Last year, Jensen made Andy Towle‘s list of the top 50 influential people to come out in 2012. Bucking like a bull in a china shop against stereotypes, the Canadian country crooner has ruffled a few feathers…and discovered he doesn’t mind that one bit.
“This was not a publicity stunt,” Drake told me over the phone while relaxing after a trek in the woods near his home. “I could easily have just stayed in the closet. This was more about me being comfortable and being myself during interviews and when talking about my husband, the way Tim McGraw talks about Faith Hill.”
At home in dusty boots and a cowboy hat and tooling around back roads in a pickup, Jensen by appearance fits perfectly on any country station. His debut album, On My Way to Finding You, was released in May of 2011, with the first single Wash Me Away receiving widespread attention on Canadian radio. This month, his new CD, OUTlaw, hits the online market.
OUTlaw addresses many issues close to the singer/songwriter’s heart such as unity, discrimination, love, and the power of positive thinking.
“I want to be looked at as proof that not only can you come out and do whatever you want, but you can do it at the age of 42,” he said. “In fact, I think in some ways, the fact I have been able to achieve this during middle age is more interesting than the ‘gay’ thing.
“What I thought was my midlife crisis has turned into an amazing journey.”
Unhappy with the amount of discrimination he still sees in the U.S. and the struggles of young LGBT people, Jensen is a fierce advocate of resources such as www.bullying.org, featured at the beginning of his video for On My Way to Finding You.
“I am someone who lived through and was really damaged by bullying and abuse. I just felt that now was the time to take a stand. It took me a long time to work through my own issues, and I don’t think I had the capacity to do this when I was in my 30s. I have learned that what I went through as a kid was only preparing me for what I have ahead of me, and in this business, you need to have skin as tough as leather.
“I get emails from all around the world. One man sent me a note that said, ‘Tonight, I didn’t kill myself because your words spoke to me.’ It is time for (positivity), and it is time for us to stand up and say ‘I can do anything.’ One of the biggest plagues affecting us is self-hate and self-loathing. Everyone that has been put on this earth deserves to be here, and if you don’t love yourself, how can you love someone else?”
As one of the only openly gay country singers in the business (and the first to celebrate his orientation in his videos), Drake recognizes the responsibility that comes with the territory.
“In 40 or 50 years, people will be talking about me, and I want to leave a positive legacy,” he said. “I tell people I am not a star. Stars are way above everyone, and I am right here with you. In the face of adversity, people come together, and that is what we are. Together.”
Jensen currently lives in Ottawa with his husband of five years. Upcoming plans include an American tour this fall, a Christmas release by the end of the year, and a new CD in late 2014.
“This has been one hell of a ride,” he said, giving me one last endearing and hearty laugh. “I am thankful every day that I started this journey, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.
“I just take a deep breath and see what the day brings.”
To learn more about Drake and check out his music and his message, visit www.drakejensen.ca.