As a member of a tight-knit Catholic community in Lemont, Ill., Steve Grand could often be found making money in recent years by singing Christian songs at his local church. But Grand, now a rising Internet pop star who has been described as "the first openly gay male country star," says he didn't always believe his priest's claim that the church was open to all people. Throughout his life, he says he never saw an openly gay person perform there.

His feelings changed dramatically after his song "All-American Boy" became a YouTube sensation this summer, racking up more than a million views in a little over a week. It shows Grand mooning over a cute (and straight) boy at a campfire, kissing him in the lake, and then watching, sad-eyed, as he returns to his girlfriend. Many church members have commended Grand for his courage to openly sing about his sexuality, and his priest has held him up as a model Catholic.

As Grand prepared this week for the Friday release of another video, called "Stay," which shows him with a new love interest, he said he maintains that his Catholic upbringing and close relationship with a Catholic community are compatible with his life as a gay man.

"I think with 'All-American Boy,' people saw my four minutes of angst," Grand said, the night before the new video was set to be uploaded to YouTube. "This time, I wanted people to see me happy because there are definitely times in my life I'm rejoicing and feeling good."

Father Kurt Boras, the priest at Grand's church, said that Grand has greatly impacted the community.
"I think he's changing our community, he's changing us," Boras said in an interview with The Huffington Post a few weeks after the release of "All-American Boy." Boras watched the video with some of the church staff, and any concerns were about the whiskey and beer consumption in the video, not Grand's sexuality, he said.

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