When Matthew John, singer, songwriter and LGBTQ+ activist, was searching for wedding songs, he quickly realized that many traditional romantic songs are heteronormative. None of the songs he listened to spoke to him. So he decided to write his own, titled “Everything.”

Equally Wed spoke to Matthew about the process of writing the song and why creating space for LGBTQ+ couples is so important. You can find Matthew on Instagram and Twitter. You can also find his fiancé Blake Coehlo, also a singer/songwriter, on Instagram. Listen to “Everything” here (and read the lyrics here.)

How long have you and Blake been together? Tell us how you met and about the beginning of your relationship.

Blake and I originally got connected through Instagram (we don’t even remember how!). We were both living separately in Los Angles around the same time and we had always exchanged likes. A few years had gone by and I ended up in Nashville to write and record new music at a studio for six months. During that time, I was in a pretty tumultuous relationship and my partner (at the time) and I moved back to California.

Eventually, we split when found out that he had cheated on me. I was in a really bad place, and not looking for anything at all. I was really just trying to get myself back out there. Blake and I had both ended up moving to Orange County, California, around the same time, and it was just really coincidental. I had won two tickets to Wango Tango, a pop music festival, and knowing that we both loved music, I asked Blake if he wanted to go with me!

It was the first time we had ever met in person, and I was shocked at how much taller he was than me! It was literally a twelve-hour-long date—we saw Maroon 5, Demi Lovato, Gwen Stefani and many of our other favorite artists. The finale was Ariana Grande! We always joke that she introduced us.

After we parted ways that night, we actually didn’t see each other again for probably over a month, work was in the way, but we stayed in contact through texts. It seems we were just so busy, with work and family life, but one night we finally got together again at a Dave & Busters in Irvine for dinner and drinks. The night went amazing. We talked about music, work, life and it seems like our mutual belief in aliens is what really sealed the deal because the rest was history.

We’ve been inseparable ever since! We’ve been together since May 2016 but it feels like a lifetime. It wasn’t easy opening all the way up for him in the beginning as I was still a bit hurt from my past relationship because my ex cheated on me and turned out to be someone I didn’t expect him to be. At times I may not have been fair to Blake. I knew I liked Blake, and he never gave up on me being ready to move forward with him. I was so scared to let myself fall in love again, but looking back he made it all too easy.

He really saved me and opened my heart up. He showed me what love really means, and now I know what love is. We’ll have been together for almost three years. We’ve lived in California together, moved across the country to Nashville together, adopted our third rescue pup and moved to our current home in Tucson, Arizona, where we will be getting married in February at Site 17 near downtown.

Do you have a proposal story? If there was a proposal (or if you both proposed), we’d love to hear about it.

We were actually in Nashville, and Blake tricked me and as I was gearing up to release a new single. He said he had set up a photo shoot for me to do some press photos. We got with the photographer, Sydney Schooler, and as she was coaching me into photo positions I noticed Blake was awfully close to me, and I kept thinking, “This guy is going to be in all my pictures!” and then I noticed he was super close to the ground from the corner of my eye. So I stopped and looked to see what he was doing. He was on his knee and I could not stop laughing! I almost forgot to say yes!

This LGBTQ+ singer couldn't find a wedding song that spoke to him—so he wrote his own
Photo by Sydney Schooler
This LGBTQ+ singer couldn't find a wedding song that spoke to him—so he wrote his own
Photo by Sydney Schooler
This LGBTQ+ singer couldn't find a wedding song that spoke to him—so he wrote his own
Photo by Sydney Schooler

What inspired you to write “Everything”? Why is it important to you for same-sex couples to have a song that speaks to them?

A few weeks after the proposal, the shock kind of faded and things became real. As a singer/songwriter, music is a big part of everything I do. I knew that the music at my wedding, the reception and during the ceremony needed to be really personal and speak loudly as a representation of who I am as an individual and who we are as a couple.

Then it hit me, we have a lot of great songs and artist on playlists already that Blake and I love and remind us of great times together, and all the great times with our friends, but I was thinking to myself: What song would I dance with my mom with, and Blake with his?

I looked and looked and found nothing. I also have always wanted to write a song for my mom,  and then inspiration struck—I was going to write one for our wedding, as an ode to my mother, and hopefully for other men like me. It’s important to me that same-sex couple have a song that speaks to them because it is important we feel connected to something real, and celebrated for who we are. I wrote this song from my own perspective, and I really wanted to share the simplicity and rawness in the lyrics that can connect to other bisexual, gay or trans men and hopefully bridge a gap between men like me or those who had always felt a little different to their mothers in a way that is reminiscent of youth and the innocence that is correlated with a mother and son at a tender age.

You mentioned that you wanted the song to represent you as a bisexual man, and the acceptance your mom has given you. What’s your relationship with her like?

When I came out to my mom, I know that I broke her heart. But I also know that her hurting was not personal. I had shattered the dreams she had for her son and destroyed the version of myself she pictured before I was even born. It took time for her to understand that I was my own person, and that was understandable, because as long as I can remember I always knew I was different so at that time I had over 20 years to come to terms with who I am and to be proud of that. It was only fair that I gave my mother time as well.

There is a line in the song, “Even though I’m different, I’m still the man you thought I’d be.” I wanted to let her know that from my perspective, even though I’m not exactly the
person she thought I was going to be, I am still capable of all the love, success and achieving all the happiness I believe she has always wanted for me. She is my biggest ally, one of my best friends and my biggest fan. We can sometimes go head-to-head in arguments, but we know it’s just tough love.

I am so proud to be her son. She gave me thick skin and taught me to fight since she’s the strongest woman I know and she also has one of the biggest hearts. I owe all my life to her belief in me.

This LGBTQ+ singer couldn't find a wedding song that spoke to him—so he wrote his own
Photo courtesy Matthew John

You said that Blake helped you write the song. What was that process like, working on the song collaboratively?

My fiancé Blake Coelho and I have a long history of writing music together. We wrote most of my 2017 EP “Chain Reaction” together, we wrote a song for a children’s orphanage charity called OliveCrest under Sony Music together, as well his own music and for other artists in Los Angeles. It’s always a natural thing for us to be musical and perform out in LA and Nashville.

We both go back and forth with melody and lyrics. I had a bulk of the song done, it was just me and my acoustic guitar in our guest room in Nashville and I kept overthinking the second verse trying to come up with some unique and personal lines. Blake really helped me find solace in keeping the second verse simple and more relatable. “More than just tying my shoes, you’ve shown me how to stand up for my truth, and sometimes I think to myself I’d be so lost without all of your help.” The lyrics are simple yet strong and I knew more men could relate in keeping them. I am always so proud and inspired by Blake; he is my best friend.

Do you and Blake plan to dance to “Everything” with your mothers at your wedding?

We absolutely do! We’re so excited because we wrote it for that intention for our wedding, and we’ve been receiving messages on Facebook from mothers looking for the lyrics as they got to share the same moment with their sons on their big day. It’s truly such an honor and so humbling to know that I am living my truth, and the music I write is touching people.

This LGBTQ+ singer couldn't find a wedding song that spoke to him—so he wrote his own
Photo by Sydney Schooler

Do you have any advice for other LGBTQ+ couples?

I think the best relationship advice to figure out the best way to communicate with each other, and always make room for fun!

It’s easy to get sucked into the day-to-day of life that it’s important to do the things together that remind you of how and why you fell in love in the first place. Ours is music and concerts and going out dancing with our friends! We go to Wango Tango every year now as tradition.

As far as wedding planning: It’s okay to take your time and speak your mind, especially if your parents try to get too involved! We obviously know that it will not be a traditional wedding, so we’re leaving all our energy toward the reception and celebration after with all our friends and family. Also, we wanted to keep the ceremony personal. One of our best friends, Elizabeth Cunningham, is a teacher, feminist and activist in Los Angeles. Elizabeth is ordaining our wedding and will run the ceremony. Be creative and let your wedding be a representation of who you are.

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