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Music: Popular  
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However, sometimes the lesbian content was stated more plainly--Rainey's 1928 lesbian blues classic "Prove It On Me Blues" contains the unequivocal lines:

They said I do it, ain't nobody caught me
Sure got to prove it on me
Went out last night with a crowd of my friends
They must've been women, 'cause I don't like no men.

It's true I wear a collar and a tie . . .
Talk to the gals just like any old man . . . .

Similarly, Lucille Bogan, also known as Bessie Jackson, recorded "B.D. [Bull-Dykers] Woman's Blues" in 1935.

However, as the popularity of the blues waned in the 1940s and 1950s, the gay and lesbian content in popular music disappeared.

Still, as blues gave way to rock and roll, lesbian singers such as Big Mama Thornton kept the tradition alive. Thornton, a powerful performer who frequently dressed in masculine clothing, released the classic "Hound Dog" in 1953, three years before Elvis Presley.

The tradition of blues women continues in contemporary performers such as lesbian Gaye Adegbalola, one-third of the blues group Saffire: Uppity Blues Women, which she co-founded in 1984. Adegbalola released her solo album Bitter Sweet Blues in 1999, on which she covers Ma Rainey's "Prove It On Me Blues."

The record also includes the original composition, "Front Door Blues," with the lyrical refrain: "all of her stuff is out of the closet / but she can't walk through that front door," of which Agdebalola says: "This gay little ditty is an ode to courage."

Candye Kane is a swing, rockabilly, and blues singer from San Diego, California, whose shows have been described as like "a revival meeting in the parking lot of an x-rated bookstore." A bisexual, sex-positive former porn actress turned singer, Kane has a big voice and larger-than-life persona. Her record The Toughest Girl Alive (2000) features the number "(Hey Mister!) She Was My Baby Last Night."

Jazz and Cabaret

From the 1920s through the 1950s, gay composer Cole Porter wrote dozens of unforgettable songs such as "Let's Do It, Let's Fall in Love," "I Get a Kick out of You," and "Don't Fence Me In." Many of them became standards of the American songbook.

Educated at Yale where he had composed more than three hundred songs, including fight songs and musical productions, before he graduated, Porter was expected to become a lawyer but instead pursued his true love, music. Although Porter married in 1919, the marriage was not a traditional union and did little to interfere with his pursuit of homosexual affairs.

The 1945 film Night and Day, starring Cary Grant, was loosely based on Porter's life, but contained no reference to his homosexuality. Because of his marriage and his inarguable importance in American musical history, many biographers still downplay if not actually deny his homosexuality.

Although everyone from Ella Fitzgerald to Johnny Mathis covered his tunes, Porter's music fell out of fashion with the advent of rock and roll. Recently, however, it has experienced a resurgence in popularity. Red Hot & Blue, a 1990 tribute album featuring covers of Porter's songs by Neneh Cherry, k.d. lang, Erasure, and Jimmy Somerville, was a benefit for AIDS research and relief. And in 2004, a second Cole Porter biopic, Irwin Winkler's Delovely, appeared, this time taking a more honest view of the composer's sexuality.

Pianist Liberace was a fixture in Las Vegas and on television beginning in the 1950s. He made his Hollywood debut in 1950 and began starring in his own television show two years later. He earned two Emmy awards, but never gave up his concert career.

Liberace played to capacity crowds from Madison Square Garden to the Hollywood Bowl to Soldier Field in Chicago, where in 1955 he performed for an astonishing 110,000 people. In his flamboyant, diamond- and rhinestone-encrusted costumes, and his signature candelabra atop his grand piano, "Mr. Showmanship" brought a delightfully campy aesthetic and staggering talent to the interpretation of old standards.

When he opened in Las Vegas in 1955, Liberace became the highest paid performer in the town's history. The author of four autobiographical books, none of which mention his homosexuality, he is better remembered for his outrageous style than for his music.

Frances Faye was a Los Angeles-based vocalist and lesbian. She began a 1976 performance with "My name is Frances Faye--I'm very gay, gay, gay." Faye performed on television and in movies for nearly fifty years, including a role as the madam in Louis Malle's Pretty Baby (1978). She is best known for her rendition of "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered." Faye had a loyal gay and lesbian following until her death in 1991.

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