Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Dude, Where's My Diva!? A +1 Guest Post
Today I'll be stepping into the background again, and giving this blog over to a gorgeous gay friend of mine. Hunker down and dig into this rockin' post written by GG20 cutie, Maxwell Felix.
Like what you read? Drop him a line!
Don't like what you read? You should still drop him a line... because he's JUST that cute.
xo Justin Luke
I am a man who likes other men and enjoys Lady GaGa, Britney Spears, Nicki Minaj, and Jennifer Lopez, just to name a few. I also know a lot of other gay/bi men who like them.
In other news, the sky was blue today.
Of course, that's not to say straight men don't like dynamic, sexually-commanding female artists as well (they just won't admit it) but it seems like gay men have always had a fascination with strong female singers. Often, such a chanteuse has defined the drive and power of an era in our gay history. The sixties had Judy Garland, the flame-dame alpha and omega. Cher ruled the seventies and beyond, and Madonna took the 80's by storm. Bette Midler, Diana Ross, Barbara Streisand, and Olivia Newton John are also included amongst these ranks of immortal divas, most who have come out in strong support for gay equality and civil rights.
Then there are the Britneys the GaGas, the Beyonces, and the Christinas of our current generation. Indeed, it seems that trends really haven't changed. The fact that gay men worship strong, beautiful, empowered women is really nothing that needs in-depth exploration. And yet, I often ask myself...
Where are our hot male idols to look up to?
Sure we have Adam Lambert, Elton John, Boy George, George Michael, and Freddy Mercury. But Elton, Mercury, and George, while unquestionably great icons, do not carry the same gravitas as GaGa does for the younger gay set.
Elton John managed to come out (first as bisexual) as he was achieving critical success in the 70's, and for him it may have just been a right time / right place maneuver as civil rights was still taking off during his premier. He managed to build a steady career for himself and has continued to achieve cross-generational success in both the music industry and his support for HIV/AIDS activism. Yet he is a rarity n the music industry because no gay artist thus far has had the same level of continuing success as he has. Freddy Mercury was tragically taken before his time, and it was only when he died that his sexuality was reveled to the world. Boy George and George Michael, while talented men in their own respects, have not garnered the same success, mostly due to their legal troubles and struggles with drug addictions.
Adam Lambert seems to be the only one of those gay male singers with a somewhat strong tie to the current generation of young gay men, but his praises are often overshadowed by his female pop compatriots. Rarely does he mention his sexuality in his personal life or his songs, and his lyrics are often ambiguous as to which gender he is singing to. Let's remember too that Adam was kept practically chained inside the closet by American Idol producers during his initial run on the show. And while his infamous performance at the 2009 American Music Awards was a point for expressive gay sexuality, it was berated by the public and Adam henceforth “neutered” in his next videos and songs. In response to the controversy surrounding his performance, Lambert said: "Female performers have been doing this for years—pushing the envelope about sexuality—and the minute a man does it, everybody freaks out.” Amen, brother, but what's a boy to do about it?
Then there are the openly gay artists who do channel their sexuality into their songs and videos. Cazwell and Jefree Star come to mind, love them or hate them. And while their videos are very in-your- face about their sexual preferences—and hey, more power to them—this is the same reason why they have not gained mainstream appeal and seem to be delegated to the niche gay market. At their most prominent, these male singers are featured on Logo. Rarely has there been a crossover, if ever.
Where does that leave us, the gay boys who often look towards pop culture for signs and support? We boys have never been afraid to embrace the power of the feminine; in fact this is what often makes us so liberated and celebratory. But when it comes to looking towards male role models in music idols, the industry has failed to give us an icon of equal measure as the divas we so often venerate.
Perhaps this is because the industry is still at odds with gay male artists and the relationship between their lyrics, their personal lives, and their sexuality. Obviously it is a very telling sign when Katy Perry can (albeit problematically) croon about her sexual experimentations with a woman and hit mainstream appeal, but can you imagine say for instance, Adam Levine coming out with a song about his hook-up with a dude? Not that it would be hot, but I have a feeling there would be a much greater outcry than the sort Katy Perry received for “I Kissed a Girl.”
So where does the problem lie? Is the music industry still homophobic? Well, obviously yes, but that requires another essay entirely. GaGa is an out bisexual woman and there are no doubts about her success as an artist. There is also no question that the gay community helped raise her to that level of super-stardom. But can we gay boys raise one of our gifted own in the manner we did GaGa? It's not a question of whether or not society is ready for a gay male artist, it's a question of whether or not society would let that gay male artist be open with himself and to the public at large.
We may just be on the threshold for success already. Even though I am not a fan of the show for many reasons, Glee managed to make a celebrity out of an out gay singer like Chris Colfer. Though he has not broken into the Top 40 scene yet, his critical success is very promising and may pave the way for more young gay men to make it big in the mainstream music market.
Until that time arrives, I am content to hear the GaGas and Nickies sing their songs, and will no doubt enjoy the next diva who bursts onto the scene. These women are proud of who they are, are frank about their sexuality, and have shown support for not just the gay community but women's rights as well. I just hope that one day the next generation of gay men can look up to one of their own who made it big and be truly proud.