"Who We Are" Single Benefits Service Members Legal Defense Network
Video features Two Discharged Servicemen
We wrote the song especially for these strong men and women
who carry the wounded on their shoulders
and the added burden of a nation's bigotry on their backs.
Singer-songwriter buddies Matt Alber and Tom Goss teamed up recently with videographer Zack Rosen of Washinton DC’s TheNewGay.net to shoot the video for their anti-DADT (Don't Ask Don't Tell) anthem, “Who We Are.”
The video features discharged servicemen Mike Almy and David Hall. Matt and Tom are offering the song as a free download in return for a donation to The Service Members Legal Defense Network, the organization spearheading the effort to repeal DADT. David Hall, mentioned above, is now Development Director & Information Technology Manager at SLDN. Following the download/donate link is a brief Q&A with Matt and Tom about "Who We Are."
[Scroll up to see video, full press release]
What inspired this collaboration?
How did you you three come to work together on this great project?
Tom: Matt had just arrived in town for some joint tour dates (with me). I was doing my best to be a good host and show him the city–the National Mall, the Capitol building. As we were driving around NPR was airing a story about DADT.Matt: I turned to Tom and said, "We should write a song about this." Within 48 hours we had a fire in our hearts, a passionate song, and video shoot with two service members discharged under the soon-to-be defunct policy. We wrote the song especially for these strong men and women who carry the wounded on their shoulders and the added burden of a nation's bigotry on their backs.
How did you find the discharged servicemen?
Zack: Tom and I have been friends for a couple years, and we had made plans to get together just to catch up right around when Matt was in town. I suggested they perform a song for TheNewGay.net and it turned out that they had just co-authored "this is who we are." I'm a huge supporter of quality queer music in all it's forms, and this song's DADT subject matter was just an extra reason to be excited. DADT is a stupid and antiquated policy and the more that people like Matt and Tom can do to bring attnetion to it, the better.
Tom: Zack is a great guy and I have been a fan of TNG since its conception. I had mentioned to Zack that Matt was in town and that we would love to do something with him. Matt and I had just finished "Who We Are" (the day before) so we thought it was a good opportunity to test it out.
What’s been the reaction to the song so far?
Matt: Our friend Ryan Robinson at HRC put the word out that Tom and I were going to shoot the video at The Capitol and that we were interested in performing the song with discharged service members. He found David Hall and Mike Almy on last minute notice. (Mike was on Rachel Maddow this week.)Tom: Word spread and discharged Chaplain (Colonel) Paul W. Dodd and U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant David Hall of SLDN quickly got involved. This is something that couldn't have happened anywhere in the world but Washington, DC.
What do you hope to accomplish?
Matt: Since we posted the first version of the song–just me and Tom on Zack’s roof–we've been getting letters from service members with stories that will rip your heart out. We learned that the majority of those victimized by DADT suffer in silence. They bravely enlist; filled with a strong sense of duty, rise to the top of command, while fearfully hiding every aspect of their personal lives throughout their career in the military.Tom: I was humbled to know that they thought the song hit the right chords. Both Matt and I were very conscious to write something that spoke on behalf of the service-members and was respectful of their situation and sacrifices to our country. Because neither Matt nor I have served in the military we were worried that we hadn't done enough. Since then we have been flooded with e-mails from discharged service-members who resonate deeply with what we have written. I'm honored to be able help give them a voice in this fight.
Matt: I think most people want to do something to help end this policy. They should know that The Service Members Legal Defense Network has brought this to public attention over a 16-year long haul labor of love. They largely run on volunteer services. Donations made at this time in history will go directly to the frontlines of this battle for equal rights and to restore dignity to those serving and discharged under this shameful policy.""Who We Are" will be available on Tommy Boy April 13, 2010, exclusively via iTunes.
Tom: I hope this continues to bring the injustices of DADT to the forefront in everyday conversation that this gives a voice to all who have been discharged or are serving in silence. I'm honored to be a part of this conversation.