This week, Detroit’s own Flint Eastwood – Jax Anderson – released “Real Love,” a powerful song detailing her broken relationship with the Christian church, and how breaking away from it finally gave her the chance to find love and truth. Like many people in the LGBTQ community, Anderson says she felt ostracized by the church because of her sexuality. After years of being told that there was something wrong with her, she decided to cut ties altogether with the church and free herself from what she felt were the judgmental confines of Christianity.
Anderson didn’t take this decision lightly. As someone who comes from a long line of preachers and grew up in the Christian church, separating from it meant much more than not saying her prayers on Sunday. “It was an extremely hard decision,” says Anderson. “I knew that I would be losing a community of people that I’d loved for a very long time and I had a huge fear that it would cause a division in my family, but thank god it didn’t.” She says although she made the split a while ago, this is her first time talking about it and also her first time openly singing about her sexuality. And the timing wasn’t a coincidence.
A few weeks before the song was released, Anderson’s older brother – who is also a preacher – sent her a link to a video of her family’s ex-pastor receiving an award for a “gay conversion therapy workshop” that he hosted for young women who are questioning their sexuality and gender identity. “We were both like, ‘this is ridiculous and it’s terrible that he’s doing this,’” says Anderson. “Especially because it was targeting girls aged 11-13 and that really hit home with me. That was exactly where I was when I was 11.” Understandably outraged, Anderson felt the best way to express her anger was to write a song about it.
She pulled up a bunch of instrumentals sent over by her brother Seth Anderson, a producer who goes by SYBLYNG, and settled on a piano loop that sounded like it came straight from a hymnal. “I sat down and wrote the song in about thirty minutes,” J. Anderson says. “I basically went through all of the ‘fruits of the holy spirit’ – which in Christianity are love, joy, patience, kindness – and said I found all of those in ways outside of the church, not by being a Christian but by being who I am.”
Anderson starts off “Real Love” by singing, “Can I be honest for a minute? Found peace when I lost religion / Found love when I thought I couldn’t.” Her opening lines set the stage for her description of her life after the church – one full of acceptance, love, and freedom. At one point in the song, a male voice says “Love without truth is not love,” exactly imitating the words of the conversion pastor’s acceptance speech, twisting his ill-meaning words back on him to create something positive.
With the help of strong choral voices consisting of Detroit divas Bevlove and Vespre, Anderson manages to orchestrate a reformed gospel song in which the world is her church, love is her God, and truth is her bible. Released just in time for June’s Pride celebrations, “Real Love” serves as a reminder that no one in the LGBTQ community should ever feel alone.
“I just want people to know that they’re not alone and it’s okay to be who they are,” says Anderson. “It’s not as scary as you think.”
Flint Eastwood will play her first Detroit show in over a year this Friday, June 29th with Princess Nokia at MOCAD. Doors at 7pm, tickets $25.