Say Anything Singer Max Bemis Comes Out, Claims Bi Erasure Kept Him Closeted
Say Anything front man Max Bemis came out this week in a heartfelt nine-page letter to fans, revealing he considers himself “bi-ish or queer, or a straight guy who can also like boys.” Bemis also shared that the L.A.-based emo quartet is taking an indefinite hiatus after the release of their new album, Oliver Appropriate.
“I always talked or joked about it with my friends and found it to be blatantly clear I was [queer],” Bemis, 34, wrote of his sexuality. “I was bullied for it and called a ‘fag’ (without irony).” He adds that his queerness was often dismissed because he’s married to a woman, wife Sherri DuPree, and has struggled with mental health issues.
“I even went so far as to tell people I was also attracted to guys repeatedly. They chalked it up to my bipolar shit, which was hurtful,” he shares. “They also minimized it because I found true love early in life, and saw that as a negation of my sexuality, or at least a minimization of my right to even identify as bisexual or queer. Because I don’t want to hook up with guys. But I also didn’t hook up with a lot of girls. I wanted to fall in love with a woman, so I did.”
Fans and friends alike, Max Bemis wrote, considered him just another “clueless ‘straight’ individual.” But in the deeply personal entry, he admits that he was “mostly” a virgin until college and that his queer experiences remain “mostly emotional ones.”
“I choose not to detail my exact experiments with my queerness or gayness or grayness or even asexuality, my
semi-female spirit or any of the things I am proud of. I do know that all of them were enough to let me know I could identify with non-traditional sexuality, but not to a large extent, and remain sort of quaveringly Plain Jane, somewhere floating on a sliding scale.”
The entry also dives into Oliver Appropriate, the title character of which he describes as the protagonist of “the Say Anything myth.”
“He is the bastard son of Columbine. He’s also a thinly veiled critique of new age masculinity. Oliver is the singer of a burnt-out emo/indie punk band past their peak. He has cheated on every woman he’s had a serious relationship with. He parties too much to the point of hurting himself and others. A man who kisses boys at beer-soaked coke parties as some kind of ironic joke instead of because he actually allows himself to find them attractive in an emotional sense.”
Oliver Appropriate is something of a sequel to Say Anything’s breakthrough 2004 album …Is a Real Boy. The first single, “Daze,” dropped on Thursday and touches on struggling with drug abuse.
While he cops to some autobiographical elements on the album, he insists Oliver and the real Max Bemis are opposites in many ways, too.
“See, falling in love with boys has always been a weird pastime for me. And most sane, nice people can do it happily, whether it’s platonically or romantically. Oliver… showed me what it’s like to fear being true to yourself, and know that this is something that is obviously painful and horrible for many people. Because Oliver is a portrait of denial, whereas I’m the pinnacle of whatever-the-opposite-of-denial is.”
The album starts with Oliver “waking up on a hungover Sunday in his filthy Bushwick apartment and follows him to a contrived dive bar where he meets the first boy he allows himself to fall in love with,” named Karl.
“Oliver, despite having a girlfriend he doesn’t really care about, ends up sleeping with [Karl,] which drives him nuts because he won’t truly accept that he could love a boy not as a joke or an expression of contrived ‘experimentation.’ Oliver just rejects Karl and treats him like another conquest.”
But after reflecting, Oliver decides Karl is the answer and seeks him out.
“He assumes he will just love him back. [but] Karl rejects him and tells him he’s actually sort of into another guy. In a fit of rage, Oliver kills Karl, absconds to San Francisco and drowns himself, tied to his lover’s corpse and a gigantic stone.”
Which is perhaps the most emo thing we’ve ever heard.
In the “Goodbye Summation,” Bemis also touched on Say Anything’s future.
“Our plans as a collective are to, kind of sort of, end Say Anything. Or ‘the first era of Say Anything.’ Whatever you want to call it,” he wrote “I don’t buy that shit when other bands do it, but whatever the fuck works as terminology. I need a break. We’ll return one day to play festivals and scoff at our career. But I want to say goodbye.”
He revealed Say Anything won’t be touring to support Oliver Appropriate.
“I am done being a touring musician as my main profession. Say Anything is retiring in the sense that Jay-Z did. It’s not an indefinite hiatus or a breakup…”