This month of pride, Atwood magazine invited artists to participate in a series of short essays in respect and celebration of the significance of the month. Today’s submission comes from Nashville-based alt-pop artist Tornsey.
Singer-songwriter Tess Schoonhoven’s new project Tornsey is “all about freedom, exploring identity and daring authenticity”. She recently released her bouncy debut single “I Feel Fine” (June 17, 2022). According to the artist, it “tells the story of finding oneself Okay after a relationship ends, but I’m not sure what to do next. It’s a fun ’80s alt-synth-pop track that juxtaposes a bit of humor into potentially depressing subject matter.
Loss is a common partner for change, but sometimes from that reality comes beauty, and even freedom. Tornsey explores these ideas and how they intertwine with artistic expression in this personal essay.
I’m taking who I’ve been for the past 24 years and embracing who I am now.
When I think about what pride means to me, or even homosexuality, I can’t help but correlate it with freedom – freedom of expression, of choice, of love.
I have been an artist in different forms throughout my life and involved in different spaces. But no one has felt as inclusive and genuinely supportive as the environment I’m in right now.
Coming into my homosexuality was not easy, as is the story of many in the LGBTQ community, I do not claim to be unique in this regard. For 21 years of my life, I was exposed to one line of thought, one set of beliefs, one concept of purpose, and it was all very narrow and oppressive. But it was so ingrained in me that it took the overwhelming experience of losing everything I had claimed as my whole world to show me that I had only just begun to unlock a sense of true expression and purpose. .
I’ve always looked to music as my way of dealing with life, and my experiences as a queer person are no exception. For me, songwriting was a way to be bold and proud of who I am for the first time. It’s how I can yell at my abusers, celebrate my friends and lovers, and rock my childhood self.
Having compassion for who I was, who I am, and who I am becoming is essential to regaining freedom.
So far most of my life has been spent hiding my homosexuality, even hiding it from myself. I learned to save space for this time in my life, because how could I be mad at a child who never had space to explore, but was put in a box and punished when he tried to escape?
But after losing the life I thought I wanted, or rather I was told I wanted, I found a life I love. It looks like pride to me. Because I was afraid of being anything but perfect, and now I’m just excited to wake up everyday and see what comes out of my heart and mind, and who I will become in the years to come.
I hope my music, and who I am as an artist and as a person, will encourage other people to have that pride too. It was worth it for me, and it’s something to celebrate. I am grateful for the people who stepped up and supported me, when people from my past rejected me.
I think writing songs and launching my artist project – Tornsey – gave me a space to feel celebrated, and like I was starting something that is finally authentic. This is not to imply that any art I have created in the past was not authentic, just that as I have grown, particularly in my connection to pride and homosexuality, my art grew and I needed a fresh start.
Nashville also contributed to this. I left California in 2019, after graduating from college, and although I am not at all the same person I was when I moved, this transition has served as a catalyst for the personal growth I have. have been through for the past three years. The friends I’ve found here, both inside and outside of the music community, have helped me realize that I’m deep inside and that needs to be acknowledged and celebrated, and not repress or judge him.
‘I Feel Fine’ – which is the first single I released as Tornsey – is part of that journey of acceptance. The song itself tells the story of ending a relationship and feeling good about it afterwards, but also being afraid that feeling good about the end was a mistake. When I came out, a lot of relationships ended for me, but I felt really good about those “breakups,” if you will, because they symbolized my acceptance of who I am and what I want from life. Sometimes endings are okay because they make room for something better. In my experience of understanding and accepting my sexuality, a big part of that story was that I learned to be okay with certain relationships and experiences that end.
And now I begin. And I’m incredibly proud to do it. I’m taking who I’ve been for the past 24 years and embracing who I am now. – Tornsey
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Stream: “I Feel Great” – Tornsey
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