The Lens

Even Gay Cowboys Get the Blues

The person you are today is a collection of triumphs and tragedies. Every injury from your past forms a tableau of life lessons; every broken bone heals stronger and more resilient than it was before.

But can the same be said of a broken heart? That is the central question of Cameron Hawthorn’s soul-searching country music hit, To Break Hers.

The tune tells a true tale of unrequited queer love, but with an empathetic twist: the gay man voicing the song regrets how he hurt his ex-girlfriend’s feelings by coming out of the closet.

“I remember the way she looked at me, all wrapped up in my jacket,” sings Hawthorn. His lyrics evoke the imagery of Brokeback Mountain, and the bitter moral is similar. You can’t choose the person you love, no matter how convenient that may sound. Instead, self-discovery is a marathon of longing and loss, culminating (hopefully) in a lifelong romance.

But the road to happiness is often paved with pain.

“Back then, I should have set her free, ‘cause I knew I’d never be what she really wanted,” croons Hawthorn. “Back then at the start, I wish I’d had the heart to break hers.”

The confession is profound, acknowledging how we unwittingly inflict damage on the people we cherish the most. By living one’s truth, however, we may be able to stave off the worst side effects of infatuation, emerging to a more honest space in which all parties involved can finally flourish.

To Break Hers is the latest in a string of provocative pieces by Hawthorn. His breakthrough video for Dancing in the Living Room depicts everyday love with a bittersweet sense of pathos. Hawthorn serenades a straight couple from the confines of a vintage TV set. He seems trapped in antiquity forever, until the narrative finally releases Hawthorn to pursue his own passion, leading him into the arms of a hunky same-sex partner.

The journey from liberation to reflection is an organic one. Hawthorn wears his heart on his denim sleeve, simultaneously rejoicing in LGBTQ honesty while fretting about his straight female companion’s fate. To Break Hers is a milestone in queer culture because it doesn’t simply declare, “I’m coming out,” but also ponders who is left behind.

Photo Credit: Fredrik Brodén


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