By William Cooke
Photos: Molly Obrien, Catalin Stelian
Growing up in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Tom Goss spent much of his youth focused on his studies and gymnastics. He didn’t feel much in the way of sexual and emotional desires. In fact, he didn’t go on his first date until he was 22, while in seminary, training to be a Catholic priest.
That was when Tom realized he did have an appetite for sex, only it wasn’t towards women or the men that society deemed as handsome. His attraction was toward plus-sized men, and nerdy ones to boot.
He sings about his love of the furred nerd in “Nerdy Bear,” his latest single and music video. “The song is authentic to my experience and relays my unique perspective that beauty doesn’t fit a standard mold,” he says.
We spoke with him from his LA home.
What is it about big furry nerds that you find most appealing?
It’s hard to pinpoint, but there’s a wonderful sweetness to nerds, especially the big, furry ones. They’re cute, no doubt, but they’re also accessible. They form social groups that are wholesome. They play board games, video games, Dungeons and Dragons and they love watching movies. As a Midwestern boy, that appeals to me. I feel like I’m in a warm and safe place when I hang out with nerdy bears. Also, they’re super cuddly!
The song is a great message to gay youth, many of whom still have it in their heads that to be a gay man is to look like a Calvin Klein model. What are your thoughts on the body image issues that run rampant in the community?
I believe our ideas of beauty are learned. Our community, and frankly the world, has body image issues because we’re consistently told there’s only one way to be beautiful. This pertains to race as much as it does to body type. We need to start creating content that shows the full myriad of how people are beautiful. Big, little, black, white and all points in between.
Whose idea was it to put you in a dress and tiara in the music video?
When you write a lyric declaring, “I’ll be your Princess,” then that’s the natural progression. I couldn’t have made this video without being in a princess dress. I’m just happy it fit!
You’re married… is it to a nerdy bear?
(Laughing) I would say that Mike is more of a dork then a nerd.
How does he feel about you getting cozy with Jason Villegas in the music video?
Mike loves the video. Everyone that watches it comments on how handsome Jason is. It was a joy working with him. He is so handsome and sweet.
Who is your celeb crush?
I’m not sure I have one. I have too many real-life crushes to make room for crushes on folks I’ll never meet. That said, I just watched the movie Richard Jewel. Afterwards, I tweeted Paul Walter Hauser about how handsome he was in it.
Who is someone you would love to collaborate with?
Childish Gambino would be a dream. Brandi Carlile, too. Honestly, the list is endless. I’m always down for a collaboration, big or small. It’s an honor to work with other artists.
What’s your biggest pet peeve about the music biz?
I’m kind of an oddball. I don’t understand so much about the world. But more than anything, I don’t understand the desire for money and fame. Not generally, but for its own sake. What’s the point of money and fame if you’re using that money and fame to generate more money and fame instead of using it to make the world a better place? The industry is often style over substance and that bothers me. I wish more people would use their platform and the content of their art to make positive changes in the world. Beyoncé is really interesting in this regard. She’s become bigger than the industry itself, so much so that she can make whatever statement she wants… and she does! I love that about her. What an inspiration.
What’s something you do behind closed doors that you would never want anyone to know about?
(Laughing) If there was something that I do behind closed doors that I didn’t want people to know about, why would I put it in print?
In this time of COVID, everyone is binging on the streaming channels. What is one series that you would recommend people add to their watch list?
We Bare Bears! You’ll laugh, smile and sing. It’s a guarantee to put you in a good mood.
How have you kept your spirits up during the pandemic?
I’m a social creature by nature so it hasn’t been easy. I’ve found that focusing on friends, family and nature have been very helpful. A lot of the distractions that used to be a part of my life are no longer there. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s been nice to be able to focus more of my energy on the people I love, the content and message of my art and the beauty all around me.
Visit tomgossmusic.com, and follow Tom on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @Tomgossmusic.