Prizm News / May 20, 2019 / By Ken Schneck

Photo courtesy of Shea Freedom

Trans singer/songwriter Shea Freedom comes to Ohio in June

by David-Elijah Nahmod

On the first weekend in June, trans singer/songwriter Shea Freedom will be bringing his unique musical styling to the Pyro Arts And Music Festival at Nelson Ledges Quarry Park in Garrettsville. The appearance is part of a national tour on which he is embarking prior to undergoing top surgery, a surgical procedure during which his breasts will be removed so that his body will be more in alignment with his male identity. 

For Freedom, the surgery is a long time in the coming in a journey that has been marked by many instances where others tried to restrict his presentation. In once example, while hiking in the forest topless, he was told he had to keep his chest covered. He recalls feeling hurt and infuriated at the injustice of this, pointing out that cisgender men could walk around topless without impunity.

“For me, top surgery is about feeling at home in my skin,” reflects Freedom. “Being able to look in the mirror and see what I’ve seen since I was a child in the dream world every night since I could remember dreams. It’s about going into nature and not being confined by the government’s say over my body. It’s about all the times I’ve cried, cried because it hurts to live in a world that is so committed to restricting and governing the bodies of its people and abusing the f*** out of its most sacred people, the LGBTQIA and its ‘wombyn’.”

Photo courtesy of Shea Freedom

Freedom admittedly went through a rough patch during his teen formative years. He first realized that he was different when he was just six years old, but there was no room for self-care of any kind in the foster care system in which he grew up. At 16 he told his then foster mom that he wanted to undergo gender reassignment surgery. As he recalls, this didn’t go over well. Now, after a period of homelessness, Freedom is out and proud.

“I just want all the big and little trans, non-binary, genderqueer kids to know that when the government and your family is against you, when the bullies are against you, when your teachers deny you, know that God stands by you,” says Freedom. “Transitions will happen in their own perfect timing. Your body is a sacred canvas. Be it with surgeries or tattoos, do what is healthy for you. Paint your canvas in a way that makes you comfortable.”

Freedom performs in what can best be described as a “folk hip hop” style. He says that his uniquely spiritual sound seeks to convey the simple notion that it’s up to each individual to make a rainy day a good day, and that people need to reach out to each other with love and compassion.

“I want my listeners to reach out to one another,” says Freedom. “Mental health matters, it’s not taboo. Suicide is taking lives and drugs are stealing lives and I know I’m not the only one sick of losing great people. So let’s stay alive together.”

Photo courtesy of Shea Freedom

During a 2018 appearance in Salt Lake City, Freedom performed the song “Choose Love” from his album Stand Together Now. “I choose love, I choose it every time,” he sings in a You Tube clip from a Salt Lake TV station, as he strums a guitar with the words “I am my only opponent” written on it. He explains that the song describes the Shea Freedom philosophy.

“The song is about the fact that no matter if you’re poor, you can choose the love of the land before everything,” says Freedom. “You can choose to love the land when you’ve been harmed at the hand of others.”

These are but some of the messages that Freedom will be bringing to the stage at the Pyro Arts And Music Festival. 

The Pyro Arts and Music Festival takes place June 6-9, with tickets costing $30-160. More information can be found at the festival website: https://www.pyrodemayo.com/

For more information on Shea Freedom, visit www.sheafreedom.com 

David-Elijah Nahmoud is a San Francisco-based writer whose career includes work for LGBTQ and Jewish publications as well as monster magazines. You can follow him on Twitter at @DavidElijahN