Entertainment » Music

Love, Polyamory, and a New Single :: A 'Quayside' Chat with Tom Goss

by Kilian Melloy
Friday Jul 12, 2019
Singer-singwriter Tom Goss
Singer-singwriter Tom Goss  (Source:Provided)

Gay singer-songwriter Tom Goss is gearing up for the October release of his next album, "Territories," with a new single that drops today, July 12.

"On the Quayside" is pure Goss, featuring soulful lyrics and some of the most tender, emotionally charged vocals he's ever delivered. But it's not the standard love song; though the lyrics only hint at it, "Quayside" — and the forthcoming album as a whole — was inspired by a journey Goss has taken, both within himself and to different travel destinations, over the course of the past few years. With the release of "Quayside," Goss is officially coming out as being in a polyamorous relationship.

Polyamory has nibbled around the edges of both straight and LGBTQ culture for a couple of decades now, with straight (often female) writers boldly proclaiming themselves to be more fulfilled and happier in relationships that are anchored in commitment to a spouse or significant other, but that also makes room for other important and intimate relationships. For Goss, that means remaining fully invested in his marriage and fully supportive to his husband while he also explores his deep connection with another man.

As Goss put it in a press release for the new single, " 'Quayside' explores an entirely new set of boundaries that I encountered when visiting my lover at his home on a quayside in London for the first time. I was concerned about being respectful to him, and his public (or daily life with his husband) while still being respectful to my own husband, and the love we've fostered for so many years."

Intrigued, EDGE reached out to Goss for a chat in which the singer — as honest, direct, and genuine as ever — talked about the challenges, joys, and creatively inspiring energy around being happily married... and happily poly.


Tom Goss  (Source:Provided)

EDGE: With your new single - and the forthcoming album "Territories" in general - you're kind of coming out of the closet again as poly. That seems super brave, and it must be a little scary! Was that a difficult choice to make?

Tom Goss: I mean... first of all, yes, this is very difficult. Second of all, I'm not sure that I'm coming out as poly as much as I'm just saying, 'This is what's going on in my life right now." I think that's an interesting question, and maybe something I haven't thought enough about; I don't believe that my only way of existing in relationship is in polyamory, but I will say that I'm in love with my husband, and I'm in love with somebody else at this moment in my life.

EDGE: By the same token, it sounds like you're also saying that you're discovering that you don't necessarily need to exist in non-polyamory.

Tom Goss: The past three years it's been a really hard, but interesting and challenging evolution in my relationship. I think I've always really... you know, my parents had and still have, a very bad relationship. I was never really given positive examples of what marriage is, and what love is in terms of romantic love. I was always very proud and strident about my love with my husband. I've written countless songs about it, and countless records about it, and it has always been the most important thing to me — the thing that is beautiful and special, and that I never believed was possible, to be honest. The idea of risking that, or changing that, or challenging that was always very frightening to me, so when it got to the point that the relationship was opening up, that was very much not my desire, and not my dream — and not the way that I saw my world unfolding.

Still, I wanted to be the person my husband needed from me at the time. I wanted to be a good partner for his journey. So I went about supporting him on his journey and, as a result, sending myself on a different journey. And that journey led me to where I am now. I'm not really the kind of person that engages in physical relationships without an emotional connection, so I guess in retrospect it seems obvious this is where it would lead.

EDGE: You've experienced what you refer to (or your press notes do, anyway) as "#MeToo episodes" when you were in the seminary. Those experiences must have been very painful. Has your experience with polyamory been a way to address and recover from those experiences?

Tom Goss: Well, mmm, maybe... I don't really think so. I do think that... Mike was the first person I ever dated, and we started dating a week after I left seminary, so my entire history of relationships and intimacy was with my husband. I think that's really beautiful and wonderful. But I do think one of the opportunities about opening the relationship was my ability to begin exploring myself as a sexual being, and I think that while in the seminary that wasn't really possible.

In retrospect, I think that the seminary experience kind of prolonged my ability to get around (in a dating sense) the way a normal 20-something person would get around, so by the time I entered my first relationship I was emotionally mature enough to make that a long-term relationship and I didn't need to date around. I think in that way, maybe it's making up for some of the time lost in college as someone who was totally oblivious, or in the seminary as somebody who was in this really restrictive system. But I would say that Mike has been very healing to me, so I don't believe that I'm carrying anything over from the seminary experience anymore.

Frankly, I'm really grateful that it all went down the way it did because I'm a stubborn motherfucker and I would have stuck it out [in seminary] no matter how miserable it was unless it got really horrible and dangerous — which is what it became. So I'm grateful for those people, to be honest.


The cover art for Tom Goss' new single, 'Quayside'  (Source:Provided)

EDGE: Your husband Mike must have come to terms with the fact that your life - and his life with you - is going to inform your work, but did he have doubts or worries about you addressing these themes in your songs?

Tom Goss: Oh yes, absolutely. I mean, in all honesty, it's been a stressful week for me and for him, just because it is, as you mentioned, kind of coming out all over again. And there's a certain amount of fear that's attached to all of this. So, you know, I'm grateful regardless of how uncomfortable it has, at times, made Mike. I live a very open, honest, and authentic life in a public forum, and that's not always easy [for anyone in a relationship with a person who lives that way]. So, yes, it's definitely been difficult.

He helped edit the press release; it's important for me to always keep him in the loop as to the dialogue I'm having, and the way our lives are being represented. He's okay with it, but that doesn't mean it isn't difficult. That goes for him, and that goes for me, as well.

EDGE: I can't help thinking there is a double meaning to the album's title - the songs are named after places you have traveled to with your husband and, separately, with your lover. But are you also talking about new places in yourself that this relationship has allowed you to explore?

Tom Goss: Yeah, absolutely; I think that's why the title works. When this journey started, like I mentioned previously, my role was really to help Mike through his journey of ... maybe "sexual rediscovery" is a good way to describe that, but I also, in that process, understood that I really have a lot to learn as well. There was some digging that I had to do within my own psyche in order to understand what was happening and be in tune with my own emotions and sexual behaviors.

I think it's very easy when society tells us that relationships exist in one specific way, and when that changes society tells us, "Well, you don't need him. Go get another person who will be conscripted into what society tells us a relationship is." Any variation on that - we're told to get a divorce, to dump the person, to start afresh or just force these kinds of rules and limits on a new person.

I didn't want to do that to Mike, because I know that he's the best thing that ever happened to me. But I also didn't want to do that to myself. So it really began a very serious introspection in terms of myself as an emotional being, a physical being, and a sexual being, I think that's a process I'm still trying to understand, even after three years. The record reflects that, both thematically and geographically.


The new single "Quayside" is available for download and streaming now. "Territories" will release in October. More information at http://tomgossmusic.com


Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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