On August 18, 2014, O&AN released a story covering formerly out-and-proud gay country musician Josey Greenwell’s rebranding as Nate Green. Some were outraged at Greenwell, some supported him, and others took O&AN to task, and we’ve decided to share some of those thoughts here. But the issue remains open: what does it mean for someone who once made his living off of being LGBT to start fresh and leave that identity, quite publicly, behind?
Josey Greenwell experienced a burst of fame from 2011-12, gracing covers from O&AN to DNA Magazine #142, and even appearing on Dr. Phil. Then Josey made his last post on his Facebook musician’s page on January 9, 2013 (his Wikipedia page was deleted the same day). As of August 18, 2014 it remained active. Numerous fans continued to post, asking for updates on his music and his wellbeing.
Fast forward to spring 2014. Country music newcomer Nate Green debuts a song called “Wild and Free.” Ever since his publicity photos hit the internet, though, there have been rumors that Green and Greenwell are one and the same. On April 29, 2014, Estoy Bailando took notice of the Nate/Josey identity, and WeHo Confidential published the rumors on August 9, 2014.
When contacted to offer Nate/Josey the opportunity to respond, Aristo P.R.'s Sharilyn Pettus declined to comment on his behalf. O&AN confirmed Nate’s identity with an unnamed coworker at Tribe and BNA Talent’s Josh Robbins, both of whom saw Nate’s publicity photos and identified him as Josey.
We raised two issues. First was the irony that Joseph Ignatius Greenwell Jr., who appeared on Dr. Phil when his identity was misused to catfish unsuspecting women, manipulated his own identity to curry the favor of female fans. Nate hasn’t denied being gay, but straight men don’t have to do that! He has however presented himself without a hint of his former LGBT pride. Aristo P.R.’s press release about Nate proudly reports:
Already boasting an impressive social following and fan base, Nate is quickly taking the female 13-24 age group demographic by storm. Numerous domestic and international fan-run Street Teams have popped up, and his fans have coined the nickname “wild things” for themselves.
All of this would be less objectionable, in my opinion, were it not for Josey’s heavy capitalization on his LGBT identity in his prior career. Back in April 2011, Greenwell boasted “[I’m] brave enough to be able to stand up for millions of people out there just like me and stand as a role model with my music.” This rings hollow now.
O&AN contacted Cody Belew, the openly gay singer who achieved national prominence on Season 3 of The Voice, who said, “I don’t understand how they’re going to rebrand Josey and actually hope to separate him from his past, but I do understand why they want to do it.” Cody expressed sympathy for Josey’s position. “If you get pigeonholed, once that has happened it’s next to impossible to get beyond it. It’s the very reason I haven’t done some things – from my career standpoint I can’t afford to pigeonhole myself this early in the game. When I came off The Voice, I could have worked for two years solid based on requests from gay-centered things, but I turned them down exactly because of what I saw happen to people like Deborah Cox and Josey Greenwell.”
Here are some of the responses we received from our readers after the publication of Setting Josey Greenwell Straight.
Neth Williams wrote:
Don't hate on the artist for playing a game we didn't write. Until Ellen and other A-list gays were mainstream, they had to do the same. They had to prove that we aren't scary, FIRST, and get people to like us, FIRST, then come out […]. The country music fanbase will, like the south, be the last to accept gays. I hope this changes, soon, but until some George Strait-level men start coming out, that genre will remain that way….
Michael Leftwich wrote:
People feel betrayed because we knew him as Josey and supported him as an artist or even a friend and then suddenly everything was gone about him. When we see him again he has a new name, marketed as straight and any comments about the past are deleted. I've talked to a couple people and seen comments on other sites where they have said they know him well and seen him in public and he acted like he did not know them.
So we have problems here. […] What enablers are saying is yes we knew him but shut up and let him be someone else…as if the person we knew is not valid and our concerns about why the business is like that are not valid. […]
The truth is he changed everything, denied people he knew and anyone hurt or offended can discuss it as much as they want too. The way that business works is cruel and to put people in that situation and expect others to just accept it is cruel.
The person who wrote you [O&AN] and said support him…Why? Support what? That he is in a business that to survive you have to drop who you are and remake yourself, denying your past and the people in it? Why should that be supported? It is not real. It is fake. Logic tells us this. But enablers don't care. That is what is wrong with society and situations like this one. Do not support it. Do not accept it. Do not deny who we are to make a profit.
Jamie Hall wrote:
The more I think about it, the more I have a problem with O&A choosing to run with this story. "Nate Green" is in the entertainment business, and I fail to see why his persona on stage or in a music video must somehow represent his sexuality. I've followed "Nate" on social media for several months, and I can't recall seeing him post anything that would deny or confirm that he's straight or gay — as best I can tell, he doesn't make his sexual identity an issue at all. Does O&A know for certain that he now actively denies his past? If so, then he should be ashamed. If not, then O&A should be ashamed.
Support Josey Greenwell/Nate Green, reader responds