Tonex: First Openly Gay Gospel Singer’s Name Change & New Sound

Seen Tonex lately? You’ll have more luck finding him as B Slade, waving a  rainbow striped flag at a Gay Pride parade than testifying in church circles.

Taken from Essence.com

Crossing over in more ways than one, the entertainer has dead  bolted his life as a minister and re-emerged as a recording activist with “Diesel,” his first  pop/soul release (which he says is inspired by the “hoodspah” that enabled strong Black men to do what they like).

Tonex  was to Gospel music, what Lady Gaga is to pop — an ingeniously talented,  flamboyant provocateur. In 2009 he confirmed suspicions about his sexually  ambiguous image, coming out on a nationally aired TV show.  In so doing  perhaps he became the first well-known openly gay gospel artist and like Gaga  believes homosexuals are “born this way.”

ESSENCE.com talks to the  artist about his more-than-unconventional stance on sexuality and how this newly  embraced freedom has influenced his new persona:

ESSENCE.com: Is  your gospel career a thing of the past?
B SLADE: When it comes to the genre, yes. Unfortunately I was pigeonholed into that genre  even though I felt that gospel music could very much so cross over to  mainstream. Formidably and exclusively, yeah that part is over. There will  always be a spiritual core to what I do and you will still feel that light and  that love in my pop and soul music.

ESSENCE.com: What about your  fans?
B SLADE: Some crossed over with me. I think  because they connect with the truth and even if they don’t understand  everything. That’s one thing they can always bank on with me is I’m going to  present truth and courage and objectivity.

ESSENCE.com: How is B  Slade different from Tonex?
B SLADE: B Slade is a  recording activist. Tonex was more of just a recording artist. I think that the  people’s interests were at both brands heart, but the represent the culmination  of raw art, audacity and hard work. This brand represents the essence of the  Black Sheep, the person who pretty much has all the odds against him, that  phoenix rising aura about them.

ESSENCE.com: Since you’ve become  openly gay, have you experienced more or less freedom?
B  SLADE: I will say more. I think the interesting notion is that people  kind of knew. It’s just as long as it wasn’t confirmed I was deemed okay. It’s  just when you bring confirmation to some things, then it becomes  controversial.  It’s interesting to see people coming up to me and  apologizing for the way the handles the whole coming out process, how they  turned their backs or initially reacted.

Tonex and his ex-wife Yvette Williams

ESSENCE.com:   You’ve been married before as a straight man, would you marry again as a gay  man?
B SLADE: I wouldn’t say it’s not an option. I  think that love is for everyone

“Diesel,” by B Slade, the artist  formerly known as Tonex is in stores now.

Shay Moore is a radio personality, blogger, community activist, voice-over actress and writer.  Follow Shay on Twitter www.twitter.com/shaymooreonair.  Check out her site www.lipglossbosses.com

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