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WATCH: Gay couple reconnect after pandemic in gorgeous, new music video

‘Gone Forgotten Year’ (YouTube)

‘Gone Forgotten Year’ is a new song and accompanying music video created by and starring artists from the LGBTQ Broadway community. It focuses on two lovers reconnecting after being kept apart by the pandemic.

Gay, Broadway artist Jelani Remy (Ain’t Too Proud, The Lion King) is the singer of the track, which was written by Justin Anthony Long. Playing the part of Remy’s lover in the video is fellow gay, Broadway artist Josh Breckenridge (Come From Away).

The video went live today.

Songwriter Long grew up in Paramus, NJ, and now lives in Pasadena, CA. His background is in musical theatre, most recently playing the part of Donny Osmond in For the Love of a Glove in Los Angeles in 2019, among many other parts.

He told Queerty how he came up with ‘Gone Forgotten Year’.

“This song started as chords on the piano. As I found my way through musically, it occurred to me, this is some kind of pop anthem about the moment… the vaccines were rolling out and I started to feel something I hadn’t for a long while… hope.

“And as the story of the song and lyrics revealed themselves to me, it became clear that this was going to be a love story.

Justin Anthony Long
Justin Anthony Long (Photo: Michael Kushner)

“I’m very lucky. During the quarantine and the lockdowns, I was able to be with my partner of 17 years. And on the days I felt really down or lost, he picked me up, got me through, and I did the same for him.

“And I know that not everyone was as lucky as us. So I let my mind wander and dream up the idea of two lovers separated during the pandemic and this being the moment when they finally are able to reconnect.”

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Long has known singer Jelani Remy since their college days.

“We both went to Montclair State University and were friends,” he says. “We also performed together at MSU in the musical Cabaret.

“I’ve always admired Jelani’s warm spirit, friendship, and talent. In addition to performing together, we also worked together ‘behind the table’ when he choreographed my production of High School Musical for the New Benefit Theatre and he also choreographed my short musical Cookie Soirée. He’s a wonderful collaborator.”

Long says after he wrote the song, Remy was his first choice for the singer.

“After he listened to a demo, he said, ‘but why aren’t you singing this?’ To me, it felt like writing it was my job and then just making it happen, not necessarily performing it. And in my head, I just knew Jelani would sound great on it and I had never written anything for him specifically before.

“Jelani had performed in a reading of a musical I co-wrote called Welcome to Shoofly, but his character didn’t really sing. So this was an opportunity to finally give my very talented friend a song of his own.”

Josh Breckenridge, Jelani Remy, Brandon Burks and songwriter Justin Anthony Long
Josh Breckenridge, Jelani Remy, Brandon Burks and songwriter Justin Anthony Long

Long says the last 18 months have had a hugely negative impact on the theatre community. Broadway, for example, supports more than 96,000 jobs in New York and contributed around $15bn to the city’s economy in 2019.

“Thousands of people have been out of work and it’s been devastating. For me, what was supposed to be an open-ended run of For the Love of a Glove ceased performances on March 8th, 2020. The next time I was on a stage was June 27th, 2021 in a MisCast concert.

“In between that, I often wondered if anyone would ever perform again. Work-wise, I was fortunate enough to be teaching musical theatre and improv virtually and picking up some editing work, but it was tough to stay motivated.”

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Jelani Remy and Josh Breckenridge
Jelani Remy and Josh Breckenridge (Photo: Brandon Burks)

Jelani Remy confirms to Queerty it’s been tough.

“My happy place, the stage, was taken away without any sort of plan to resume. It was hard. Very hard. It became a question of what my purpose was without the eight-show weeks I’ve known for over a decade.

“I became depressed and watching thousands of people die daily did not help. We had to find other ways to perform which turned virtual, but our incomes were jeopardized greatly. It was hard for a lot of actors to be the beacons of light and hope when there was so much uncertainty.

Are things now beginning to improve?

“Yes!! Actually, one of the most inspiring things was seeing my colleagues become activists and speak out watching the world change,” says Remy.

“Seeing how we rose up through the cracks of injustice, inequality and unemployment and found creative ways to express ourselves and shine socially distant. Now, I’m gearing up to step back into my Broadway show Aint Too Proud and I am beyond thrilled!”

‘Gone Forgotten Year’ was produced by lesbian music producer Joanna Burns. The video was directed and choreographed by queer, Black artist Brandon Burks of Printboy Magazine. Long ended up doing the filming himself.

“Originally, I wasn’t going to shoot the video,” Long says. “I was hoping to hire a friend’s production company, but I just didn’t have the funds, so I packed a Sony camera, gimbal, and some lights, hopped on a plane at LAX and tested out my cinematography skills in NJ/NYC.

“I was nervous and was feeling like…well if this footage doesn’t turn out well, it’ll be all my fault. I think I watched about a hundred hours of tutorials before showing up on set!”

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Jelani Remy and Josh Breckenridge
Jelani Remy and Josh Breckenridge (Photo: Brandon Burks)

Lastly, will there be any chance of hearing Remy performing the song live sometime soon?

“Yes!” Remy says. “I will be bumping this new anthem any chance I can! Recently, at Feinstein’s 54 below and next at Birdland on September 26th!”