Special bile is often directed at the homosexual man in music, and those who are mistaken to be so. Yet reactions to homosexual artists in music are often mixed. Hate and acceptance often continue in equal measure.
Aryan Disgrace circa 1983 used hateful terminology in song with the single, “Faggot in the Family.” The LA band caused quite a stir. Yet because of the popularity of some bands, people do not realize how accepted this kind of hate speech is.
At times tastes have defied convention. Freddy Mercury was the openly bisexual lead singer of an extremely popular hard rock band called Queen. No one really seemed to care. Frankie Goes to Hollywood featured a very out Holly Johnson singing some rather dirty lyrics which most people didn’t quite get with a lot of moaning. Elton John’s music was popular with half the world and sung by children’s choirs.
Ultimately it seems people fear that being gay means engaging in illegal sexual antics like having sex with strangers in bathrooms (like George Michael of Wham!) or molesting children who cannot legally consent. It doesn’t. Being straight and only dating straight men, I can assure you that the straights do plenty of really stupid, mean, and evil things to women.
People fear that flamboyant equals gay. Sometimes it does. Elton John is the poster child of being a flamboyant gay glam rocker. But sometimes it doesn’t. Matt Bellamy of Muse wears mirrored suits that compete with the glammest of the glam rockers. He is completely in love with Kate Hudson and a baby is on the way.
The gay tag has been historically misapplied to Depeche Mode due to some of their early antics. Flamboyant Martin Gore wore make-up, women’s lingerie, women’s leather dresses, black nail polish, and became known for recording in the nude. Lead singer Dave Gahan wore guyliner and of late was witnessed both hugging and kissing Martin Gore and Steven Tyler in front of an audience of thousands at the MusiCares concert honoring Gahan.
The gay association came from Depeche Mode’s music being played in gay clubs as well as their 1985 hit “People Are People” being adopted as an LGBT and anti-hate anthem. Additionally, former DM songwriter Vince Clark founded Erasure with the wildly out Andy Bell and “Gay Cabaret” tours.
Martin Gore isn’t half as flamboyant as he once was, but has still gone for face glitter, angel wings, guyliner, black nail polish, leather kilts over leather pants, and glittery shirts while spawning 3 beautiful children with a lingerie model. With no reason to hide any gay sexual antics since they certainly haven’t hidden anything else from a broad palette of alcoholism, heroin addiction, etc., perhaps they just aren’t gay. (I promise to eat my words if they are.)
Many entertainers do hide their homosexuality. It’s beyond good taste to discuss what happens in the bedroom, but why do they have to hide their preference? Well, if being called gay when you aren’t was a problem, imagine being called gay and being hated when you actually are. Former Depeche Mode member Vince Clark joined forces with vocalist Andy Bell to tour a “gay cabaret.” Along with Depeche Mode, they were comfortable in their own skins are really didn’t care for the most part. All European bands were populated by young-looking skinny kids in or barely out of their teens. In 1985 America that became gay as the straight “American Music” movement took hold.
But the world stopped and her show was cancelled when Ellen Degeneres came out. It took years to rebuild her career, but now she is accepted. Ricky Martin feared repercussions of coming out as a very popular Hispanic entertainer for his entire life. He delayed so long that his confession almost seems like a letdown. We already knew.
Being straight and having a boyfriend gave Kate Nash a small pass for saying on her second album “I’ve got a secret, I can’t tell you, you would judge.” Then she asks why she can’t love who she wants, even if it’s a girl and why can’t her male friends find love with each other? Her second album was not nearly as popular as her first.
Katy Perry is a conundrum. She called her ex-boyfriend gay in song (“U R So Gay”) yet proudly declared, “I kissed a girl, and I liked it.” She is hugely popular.
Nirvana threw their fans for a loop when Krist Novoselic and Kurt Cobain kissed on Saturday Night Live in the 1990s–on the lips. They also declared unexpectedly in the album liner notes of Incesticide, “If any of you in any way hate homosexuals, people of different color, or women, please do this one favor for us-leave us the f*ck alone! Don’t come to our shows and don’t buy our records.”
Cobain was horribly upset by hearing that two men raped a woman in Reno while chanting the lyrics to one of his songs. Meanwhile Axl Rose of Guns n Roses sang about “immigrants and faggots.” Cobain admitted that he was bisexual in an interview with “The Advocate.” But great change didn’t come from this.
MC Lil B felt the sting of controversy when he announced he would title his next album I’m Gay at Coachella 2011. He threw down the quality gauntlet despite identifying as a straight man. “Imma keep pushing for the human rights and for people to be happy and the people to speak and you know what, I’m not gonna stop and I’m not scared of anybody on earth.” Since he’s not signed to a label, he can do what he wants.
Well, it’s not all bad. Yes, Boy George caused a stir with his androgeny and coming out in the 1980s. No one really batted an eye when K. D> Lang and Melissa Etheridge came out. The Indigo Girls? No problem. For some reason, Annie Lennox didn’t really cause much of a stir at all when she came out in the 2000s. Rob Halford of Judas Priest feels that there has been progress.
Halford made a very public announcementof his homosexuality on MTV in 1998 and suffered few repercussions. He said of the experience, “There are areas of music that are more compassionate, more tolerant, more open, more accepting and more aware. What I think I have done is destroy the myth that heavy metal bands don’t have that capacity. It’s a different world now. Heavy metal now is a completely different world compared to heavy metal in 1980.” But not everyone is that lucky.
Will we ever completely evolve? And if some have evolved, how do we explain the hateful species that are supposed to be defunct by now?