Are these talent shows just getting gayer or just a heck of a lot better! You can argue that it is both and The Voice this season is guilty, guilty, guilty of being a friend of Dorothy.
When we have done stories about LGBTQ performers on other talent shows, may will comment, "Are you saying I have to vote for them just cuz hey're gay?" Heck no! But them bing gay should not negate your vote either.
We will be watching right along with you as the competition continues tonight and tomorrow night 8 PM EST on NBC when the "knockout rounds" begin. Kelly Clarkson serves as a key adviser and is on hand to work with all of the coaches and their teams as they prepare the artists for this challenge. Kelly Clarkson. That should be reason enough to tune in.
But if you need more reason, keep reading. We were able to take some time and interview both out and open LGBTQ contestants this season Esera Tuaolo and Chris Weaver.
When I first saw Esera Tuaolo pop up on The Voice, I was like, I know him! Jumping over to his Facebook account, I fell in love with the guy immediately. The freshness of his posts, the happiness he shared with others, was infectious.
INSTINCT: We noticed that you’ve been tagging your football friends and former teams on your Facebook posts. You were done in 2002, fifteen yeas ago. How has the responses been?
TUAOLO: It has been wonderful getting messages from everyone, not just the football world. Brett Favre sent me a message the other day, Peter Paige from Queer As Folk, it’s been great.
What has been the best advice from the coaches so far?
I have my own style, my own technique, you know, that comes from not being trained at all. I would say my breathing techniques. You know in football, we do short breaths for our bursts of energy. Singing? Totally different breathing where you have to have control of your breath on the way out. You have to become familiarized with your voice and style.
What is missing from your bio that you have already done that people do not know about you.
That’s hard. Life is an open book, I put it all out there. I actually wrote a book (autobiography, Alone In The Trenches: My Life As A Gay Man In The NFL, was released in the spring of 2006). Some things that are not highlighted as much and people may be surprised to find out that I am a chef. My specialty is Polynesian cuisine. I’ve done stage work, musicals, and acting.
What is missing from your bio that you cannot wait to do in the future?
Motion picture, I would love to be in a film, little things here and there. Maybe someone would like to take my book and make it into a movie.
Of course one is a team event and one is you by yourself, but how else is The Voice Different than SuperBowl XXXIII?
I’m 49, I’m on The Voice, I’m from the Pacific Rim, I’m representing all of those groups now. I think how it is the same is that I’m living the dream … AGAIN! Yes, this time around, The Voice, you are out there by yourself. It’s intense.
So where are your kids, your twins through all of this? How is it raising kids compared to when you were a kid?
They’re back in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Mitchell and Michele are 16 years old now. They’re amazing kids and were there for the blind audition.
Raising kids is so different now, it’s a different way of parenting these days. We have to do more to shelter kids from a lot of things out there. It is important to have good and more communication with kids. They’re doing more so we as parents have to be doing more.
Are you single?
No. Next (he said with a cute and a ‘let’s move on’ kind of chuckle).
What is the biggest challenge facing the LGBTQ community today.
In 2002, I began speaking against hate. There have been a lot of “nevers” that have come into being, I came out, I’m an advocate/speaker for the community, same-sex marriages exist … when you are my age, back in the day, you could not even imagine or dream about how far we have come and where we are now. It’s exciting and amazing. What is your biggest challenge? It has to deal with people speaking up and using their voices. Moving forward, we have a lot more to do. There needs to me more coming out. We need to find our voice, and scream, and educate.
For more on Esera Tuaolo,
INSTINCT: In looking back, did they choose you? I recall in the clip from the show, Carson Daly driving over to meet you.
Had a friend who had been an executive producer on X-Factor. The Voice went to them and asked him, do you know 10 people we should be listening to right now that should be doing a blind audition. It does pay to know people. I had initially auditioned in Chicago and New York City’s open calls and did not make it.
Did you audition for other singing competition shows? American Idol, AGT? X factor?
I did try out for American idol, before my senior year in college 2009. The audition didn’t make it to broadcast.
Will you perform in drag, have you been asked to?
It has come up in conversation, and I’ve said yeah! Then I sit down and think about the audience. It’s 2017 and that’s the way the world works. But I’m not doing anything different than Tyler Perry, what people are doing on Broadway, and Conchita Wurst I added
Did you bring up the fact that you do drag and put it forward as part of your bio on the show or did NBC?
It came up in the line of questioning. All the time I was free to say anything. They were great about that. I’m gay, I do drag, I’m in the church, those are the main things, all three are me and are not separate. They make up who I am.
Where do you want to live? East Coast? Iowa? West Coast?
I lived on Long Island originally and then moved to Iowa. I love NYC, there’s no place like it. But when I was in Iowa, I said I would never move back to NYC. I realize I am a city boy, so ideally, I would stay in The City and have a place in Iowa
What is your favorite number to perform as Nedra Belle? As Chris?
As Nedra?Diana Ross – ‘The Boss” Also “Try A Little Tenderness,” my try out song, but I think people in NYC have heard that way too much as I performed it so often during open mic on Sundays. As Chris? I really think “New York State of Mind,” by Billy Joel.
What is the biggest challenge of or in the LGBTQ community?
Us being a community, that’s the biggest thing. One of my friends said that “gay community” is his favorite oxymoron. We cannot become who we fight against
Best piece of advice from the voice so far?
Jennifer Hudson said, “You need to learn to sing for more than just the street you live on.” You need to cater to different people, different walks of life. You’re not just singing to those people that came into the cabaret on a Thursday night. You’re singing to everyone out there in America.
Best piece of advice in life?
It's not what you know, it’s who you know.
Who would you want to throw a shoe at?
With your talent, history, and performance skills, will there be a Ru Paul appearance on a future season?
Win or not on The Voice, you will hear more from me. As or Ru Paul? Sasha Belle is my drag momma and was on Season 7 of RPDR. I actually met Ru Paul at a Planned Parenthood: Resist function and she retweeted a pic of us. Currently, there are no talks about Drag Race.
Best of luck to both of you!
Best of luck to both of you!