Pop Artist J Carson on Coming Out, and Coming Back to Philly to Perform at OutFest

This Sunday marks the 24th annual OutFest block party in the Gayborhood. Besides all the fabulous out-and proud-celebrating and gay kiki-ing , there will be plenty of killer performances set to add even more color to an already rainbow-filled afternoon. One of those performers is Philly-bred singer-songwriter J Carson, who is returning to town from Los Angeles, where he is currently working to make a name for himself in the mainstream music business.

I caught up with Mr. Carson this week, and he couldn’t be more excited to be coming back to perform for his Philly brethren. You can catch him on the OutFest mainstage on Sunday at 1:20 p.m., followed by an evening performance at Icandy. Until then, you can catch up with him in our fun little Q&A. Keep reading to hear what he’s been up to since moving to L.A., how being gay in the music industry has been a challenge for him, and why he calls Britney the “S” word. (Gasp!)

G Philly: How does it feel to be coming back to your hometown to perform at Outfest?
J Carson: It feels amazing! It has been a long time coming. I’ve been trying to perform at OutFest for a few years now, and it feels great to bring my show back to my hometown.

GP: Since this weekend is all about being out and proud, can you share your coming-out story?
JC: When I was 13, I decided I knew I was gay and I hated not being able to truly be who I was. So I came out and that feeling of acceptance from my family had me feeling overwhelming joy. To be able to be out and proud …  J. Carson emerged and was ready to conquer the world.

GP: What advice would you give to someone who is just starting the coming-out process?
JC: I would say be true to yourself no matter what other people think. I know it’s a struggle at first, because everything is so new, but as I say in one of the song’s I’m performing at Outfest, “Live your life and don’t give up.”

GP: As an out performer, do you face any unique challenges in the music industry?
JC: I absolutely do face challenges, because the industry isn’t totally fine with LGBT performers singing about their attraction to the same sex or the hurt that they go through. However, it’s absolutely becoming more acceptable now, especially with Sam Smith being gay and Lady Gaga being bisexual.

GP: Speaking of Lady Gaga: How do you feel about her recent music hookup with Tony Bennett?
JC: It was actually a good move for her. I know the album is doing really well. She’s classically trained and it works for her. It’s just a shame, because her last album wasn’t really “art” like she wanted it to be, so she definitely struggled after it didn’t do so well. I think that she didn’t have the right people around her and guiding her. If she really wants to come back, she is going to have to do something a lot different and something that truly suits her.

GP: How do you feel about other divas like say, Madonna or Ariana Grande?
JC: Let me see. Madonna I would say is freakish, but in a good way, because it’s Madonna. And Ariana? Total diva. She needs to stop acting like that, it will get her nowhere.

GP: How about Britney?
JC: Total sellout.

GP: That’s interesting. Why would you say that?
JC: I went to her Vegas show and it was okay. I mean she just didn’t move, it’s like she was there and her head wasn’t. I hear it’s getting better, but I don’t know, I miss the old Britney like everybody else!

GP: I could go on and on about divas all day, but let’s get to Outfest. What can everyone expect from your performance on the mainstage this Sunday?
JC: Yes! I can’t wait. I’ll be on the mainstage at 1:20 p.m., then at Icandy at 10 p.m., and I may or may not have a surprise planned for the Icandy performance. I can tell you that everyone can expect high energy and to be ready to come out and celebrate being yourself and being proud of who you are.

GP: One last thing, during one of our chats, you told me that you performed at legendary L.A. gay hot spot Whisky a Go Go, and got a very sweet surprise backstage. You have to tell everyone about that.
JC: After I was done performing, I came out of my dressing room to say hi and thank you to all my fans that came to support my show, and I turn around and look behind me and it was my mom! Seriously I thought I saw a ghost and I was in so much shock that she drove three days just to see me perform. It will be a night I will never forget.

For more music from J. Carson, check out his new E.P, Untitled, on SoundCloud.