Basement Tapes: Keiynan Lonsdale documents his journey after publicly coming out on R&B pop gem 'Rainbow Boy'
Lonsdale has boldly repped his queer pride, most recently in a gloriously campy gender-bending photoshoot for Vogue
Award-winning Australian singer-songwriter, actor and dancer Keiynan Lonsdale's latest release, the retro-futuristic R&B-pop 'Rainbow Boy', is the unapologetically wholesome queer content we need in the world right now.
Born in Sydney to a Nigerian father of Edo descent and an Australian mother of Irish and Danish descent, Lonsdale comes from a highly diverse cultural background. He began his career in entertainment with a bit dancing part in 2007's 'Razzle Dazzle: A Journey into Dance' and after a flourishing career on Australian television, he made his way to hit American shows like CW's 'The Flash', 'Legends of Tomorrow', and 'Supergirl' in addition to starring in The Divergent Series as well as the historical drama 'The Finest Hours'. His starring role as Bram in 2018's 'Love, Simon', which is about a teenage boy struggling to come out, is one the artiste credits with helping him come to terms with his own sexuality. The film was deemed historically significant, owing to it being the first film from a major studio to focus on gay teen romance.
In addition to his successful run in films and on television, Lonsdale gradually branched out into music. His musical career began in 2015 with his single 'Higher' finding a place in Connor Franta's curated album 'Common Culture, volume 5' which dropped in 2016. He also dropped the singles 'Good Life' in 2017 and 'Kiss The Boy' and 'Preach' in 2018, demonstrating his willingness to be more open with addressing his own journey through his music. In 2019, he starred in Camila Cabello's 'Liar', in addition to dropping the single 'Rainbow Dragon'. And he now takes a greater leap into music with his debut album.
Already at the forefront of the modern queer movement in Hollywood, Lonsdale is also helping open up conversations that go beyond the more visible elements of the LGBTQIA++ conversation. He was one of the first openly queer actors to play a superhero, he served as a judge on RuPaul's Drag Race, he has been awarded an LGBT Centre Youth Advocacy Award and in 2019, he kicked things up a notch when he walked the MET Gala pink carpet in a custom gown covered in over a thousand handmade, embroidered butterflies, created by Indian designer Manish Arora. He also did a photoshoot for Vogue along with fellow queer actor Ezra Miller donning gowns, making the hearts of young queer folk across the nation soar.
To that end, 'Rainbow Boy' sees Lonsdale take a wholesome approach to queer identities. The release feels like a personal diary that the artiste used to capture his experiences following coming out, but it additionally doubles up as his declaration of love to the queer black community. Released just in time for Pride 2020, 'Rainbow Boy' has Lonsdale fully embracing his identity, making for a show-stopping display of inclusivity drenched in self-love. GQ UK stated the album "gives us hope for what pop music can do," and it's hard to disagree with that assessment.
The album's 14 tracks were co-written and co-produced by Lonsdale in collaboration with Louis Futon over the course of the last few years, following his public coming out in 2017 via social media when he shared that he was attracted to people regardless of gender. Despite the immediate rush to brand him as 'pansexual', Lonsdale would later clarify that he did not wish to label his sexuality.
Opener 'We are the Children' is a celebration of every part that makes you who you are, especially the ones that are often marginalized and 'othered'. From here on, the album gets increasingly personal and by extension, soulful as Lonsdale's soft, smooth vocals float between addressing negative stereotypes and bigotry that impact the LGBTQIA++ community on powerful, hard-hitting tracks like 'White Noise' and 'Gay Street Fighter' to discussing queer relationships on more melodic tracks like 'I Confess My Love'.
In addition to its thematic elements, however, 'Rainbow Boy' is also a demonstration of Lonsdale's genre-blending abilities, seeing him glide effortlessly from the classic R&B that defines the album to the electronic sounds of 'Play', the tropical beats of 'Ancient One', and the pop melodies on 'Rhythm & Music', in addition to transitioning from upbeat, summery tracks to darker, moodier seamlessly. And on top of it all, Lonsdale reveals himself to be an all-rounder: he writes, produces, sings, raps dances, and acts. And he's only just beginning.
'Rainbow Boy' is, essentially, a promising debut from a highly talented artiste who is unafraid to explore what it means to be different.
Stream or order 'Rainbow Boy' HERE.