QUEENS — When Jason Lapin was 13, his best friend confided in him that he was gay. When other teens found out, they started calling Lapin and his friend a "gay couple."
“It was tough for me and I’m sure it was tough for him,” said the 22-year-old subway musician and senior at St. John’s University, who grew up in Clinton, Mass. “And instead of being a good friend I turned my back on him and I wasn’t there to support him.”
Lapin, who said he “felt awful about it ever since,” recently wrote an anti-bullying song, “Just Maybe, One Day," hoping to make up for his past mistake.
“It’s an anti-bullying, gay rights, equal love type of song, but it’s an apology as well,” he said of "Just Maybe." The message, Lapin said, is to "be who you are and the people who really love you, will love you.”
“Music can bring down walls,” he said. “It gives you a platform to talk about important things and you can change people’s outlook.”
The musician said he has been singing since he can remember. He picked up a guitar when he was 15, and wrote his first song a year later. “It was a song for a girl because I wanted her to like me, but it didn’t work,” he said laughing.
But he says his favorite gig is to play on the subway. He and his friend, violinist Alan Garcia, also a student at St. John’s University, usually play together, most of the time on the F train, he said.
“It’s a great experience,” said Lapin. “I love meeting new people and making them feel good.”
For the same reason, Lapin also volunteers at Camp Sunshine, a camp for terminally ill children in Maine, where he sometimes performs with kids on the stage.
Eventually, he hopes to become the next Dave Matthews, but he plans to stay in Queens, said Lapin who currently lives on the university’s campus in Jamaica.
“Queens has a lot of heart,” he said. “It may not be glamorous, but it’s real.”