Season 2 So You Think You Can Dance winner Benji Schwimmer made headlines in 2012, when he left the LDS church and came out as gay in an incredibly emotional and candid Mormon Stories interview. Since then, he has invested much of his time and energy working with and mentoring young people in the LBGT community, and when the opportunity to dance in the music video for L.A. indie artist Elle Belle’s “Knock on the Light” came up, he felt an instant connection to the song. Yahoo Music’s Reality Rocks is proud to premiere that video today.
“Recently, a few teens I’ve mentored decided to take their lives,” Schwimmer tells Yahoo Music. “I was a staunch Mormon for many years, and after having left for being treated like a plague — I am a proud gay male — the lyrics really resonated with me, as I too have had to knock on the thing I once called light and know now to be darkness and evil. Leaving my ‘innocence’ — which really was ignorance and being masked and dancing in nigh obscurity — created an atmosphere where I could barely breathe.”
The “Knock on the Light” video is simple — just an uncharacteristically serious and somber Schwimmer dancing with a light — but the power of the clip is in its simplicity. Schwimmer says of the grueling shoot, which he initially thought was going to be just 30 minutes of some background dance footage:
“Early on, I hit my head really hard on the ground and ended up cutting myself each take. The bruising was insane afterward. And I f—ing loved it. I felt like I was duking it out with my former religious institution that promotes hate, and, despite being cut and bruised, I ended up on the ground, able to once again look up at the cosmos and get lost in childlike, innocent wonder… The combination of being exhausted from traveling and training my ass off the entire month prior for a competition, getting to dance, but be ugly while I danced, was such a cathartic thing.”
Elle Belle’s “Knock on the Light,” which features BØRNS keyboardist Misty Boyce on guest vocals and was mixed by Mike Bloom (Jenny Lewis, the Elected, Julian Casablancas), is the third single in a series of releases from Wako Gumbo, out Nov. 11.