Stephen Wrabel, known by his stage name, Wrabel, will bring his hauntingly beautiful voice to perform at Bethel Pride on May 6.
The Los Angeles-based musician will be headlining the Pride celebration. Wrabel is a gay artist and is known for his songs 11 Blocks, Ten Feet Tall and The Village. He’s collaborated with other artists like Marshmello, Kygo and Afrojack.
TinaMarie Craven caught up with Wrabel to discuss Pride and his music.
TinaMarie Craven: How did you get involved with Bethel Pride?
Stephen Wrabel: My little cousin started it. To my understanding, Hailey started it kind of through a class project and then she said we should have a march. I think she thought it was going to be this little thing, but then her mom started getting calls about people wanting to sponsor and support them and so Ali [Alexis Main] called me last year and told me what was going on and said it was turning into this whole thing. And I was like OK, I’m there. I flew out and performed and hung out for the day. It was really awesome.
TC: What does performing at Pride mean to you?
SW: My first Pride was out here at L.A. Pride and that was one of the — and it sounds so cheesy — but it was one of the best days of my life. Playing in such a stage it’s more than a stage, it’s playing in a place where really you’re celebrated for all the different parts of yourself [and] it’s really powerful. It’s such a cool, human experience to be able to just completely be yourself and not have any second thoughts at all and to share art in that way and share the space and the time — it’s a really powerful experience.
TC: What does it mean to make Pride accessible to non-urban areas?
SW: I think it’s really important. You know, I’ve been in L.A. for 10 years and it’s just a different place than Bethel. I think that’s why it’s so cool that they started a Pride there. There are LGBT families everywhere, in every state, in every county, in every country. In L.A. it’s celebrated, but it’s not like that everywhere. So I think it’s really important to give people that visibility and a safe space to meet people and a place to feel seen and loved and heard and accepted and really celebrated.
TC: What was it like when you came out?
SW: I grew up in the church and my coming out was kind of a long process. Without going into the whole sob story, I thought it would go away or something. I never really thought I would come out, I never thought I would make it out alive, kind of literally. I came out to a church that was very not accepting and dabbled in that weird world of “You can be gay, but you don’t have to be gay,” and looking back I can’t even wrap my head around it. It wasn’t the worst coming out story ever, it wasn’t the best coming out story ever. I ended up getting out of a church I was going to and that threw me off for a bit. After some years of very literal soul searching, I’ve landed in this better place where I can even love myself some days.
TC: What inspired you to write your song The Village?
SW: The song was inspired by two trans kids I met on my first tour. They were at the stage door one night waiting to say hey. I was really just struck by their authenticity to how they were just themselves. We hung out that night, I got to know them and I kept bouncing around on tour for the rest of that year and into the next one and every time I was in that city we’d hang out. I met their parents and some of their friends. It was the day that federal protections for trans students was taken out of public schools and I was talking to one of them and just hearing what it was like outside of what it was on the 140 characters or less that was on our Twitter feed and outside of the scrolling news headlines what it actually felt like to be a trans kid out in school that day. It really broke my heart and I was on my way into the studio that day and I came in, I was working with two of my good friends and said, “Hey, I’ve met these kids and this is what’s going on. Can we write them a song? I would love it if we could write them a simple song and if it’s just them that hears it, then that’s what happens.” I wasn’t really thinking beyond that. We wrote The Village, I sent it to them and they were floored. They said, “You have to put this out, you have to share this.”
TC: What are you planning on performing at Pride?
SW: I don’t know yet, I don’t usually know until it’s happening. I’m sure I’ll play The Village and some other stuff. I have a lot of sad songs, but I’ll try to make them happy songs.
TC: What do you hope the Pride attendees take away from the celebration?
SW: I hope everybody has fun. I hope everybody feels really safe and really supported. I hope people can meet each other that have never met and know that we’re not really ever alone. No matter what city, state, county you live in, we always have family somewhere.
TC: What’s next for you?
SW: I’m working on a record that is slowly but surely coming out. I’m working with a few different artists that are putting songs out that I’ve worked on. The record is coming, I’m hard at work. We have the first single written and everything’s in production land right now.