Life after gay cure therapy – Raph Solo is using music as a way to move forward
Singer/songwriter Raph Solo’s track Jasmine Petals is all about moving forward, but his personal journey includes some dark chapters, a past that gives depth to his life-affirming music.
I caught up with Raph Solo for a behind-the-scenes look at his music.
Jasmine Petals is about choosing to let things go and move forward, what was your inspiration for this track?
It’s a high speed ride called life and we’re on a metaphorical roller-coaster – sometimes you can’t help but want to say “Stop, I need a minute…” and that’s okay. Take your minute and reflect on what you want to take with you and what you don’t when you resume your journey. Reflection.
Your music generally reflects a theme of valuing self-worth, and learning about yourself as you move forward with your personal journey. Does that reflect your past experience with ‘gay-cure’ therapy and your search to find your identity as a gay man?
Without a doubt, it affects you growing up – thinking that the nature of your existence is not right. You end up spending a lot of time trying to be a certain way until you get to a place where you learn there is no right way – just the way which is right for you. You learn that certain things bring about certain results, and that you’re able to choose what you want. You learn what makes you happy in your heart, and it all clicks together. We’re all different, and the diversity makes us all beautiful.
I’m fortunate to be at a place where that episode of my life is now behind me. I come from a very traditional family, and I’m sure that my upbringing played a part in the guilt I felt – growing up gay.
I chose to try reparative therapy because I’d been through a few failed relationships, I was low on hope, and I doubted whether gay relationships were capable of being long-lasting and sustainable. In that dark moment, reparative therapy seemed like a lifeline, so I tried it.
In a way, I’m happy I tried it – I came out stronger. I know now that gay relationships can be just as long-lasting and sustainable as any other relationship.
Now, I’m comfortable in my own skin. I’m a gay man, and I’m proud. I’m out to my family, and they’ve accepted me for who I am. My mum is particularly great. I’m happy to be experiencing a positive side of gay life - something I hadn’t experienced before.
A lot of young guys around the world are being subjected to ‘gay-cure’ therapy. What’s your perspective on that?
It’s not right. I want to say to families who are trying to ‘cure’ their son of being gay – what do they expect to happen after? That their son will marry a girl and have a family? It’s so unkind to everyone involved. Being gay is not some kind of illness that can be cured, it’s just another way to love.
Life is your fifth studio album, and it features a combination of new music and previously released tracks. How did you decide what tracks to include on this album?
The theme of the album is Life. On Jasmine Petals, I take a trip down memory lane with the lyrics.
From there, came the idea to include some previously released material which meant a lot to me – Memory Lane and Beautiful One – both of which talk about soul searching. The story of my life.
I couldn’t think of an album called Life without Rich In My Heart. I’m an independent artist who works hard for the money, and the best things in life are free.
Is Life an album that you’ll be touring?
I wanted to celebrate my life by putting film to music to tell my story. I think that will be the way I want to express this album.
What do you hope that people feel when listening to Jasmine Petals?
The song is about leaning that it’s your life. Your story. It’s meant for you to write it. Celebrate yourself. Love it. Live it. And, if you don’t like something, change it.
Photos by Michele Martinoli