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Music: Popular  
 
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Australian Peter Allen, the cabaret singer, composer, and ex-husband of Liza Minnelli, had his biggest hit with "I Go to Rio" (1977), though he penned hits for other artists, including "I Honestly Love You" for Olivia Newton-John and "Don't Cry Out Loud" for Melissa Manchester.

Allen won an Oscar in 1982 for co-writing "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)" from Minnelli's film Arthur. Allen was an exuberant entertainer, known for leaping atop his piano during a performance.

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Carrying on the cabaret torch, Rufus Wainwright is an openly gay singer/songwriter whose style owes more of a debt to Cole Porter than to any of his contemporaries. The son of Loudon Wainwright, III and Kate McGarrigle, his music has been described as updated American standards and is critically lauded.

More experimental jazz and vocals artists include Milwaukee-based Mrs. Fun, a keyboard and drum duo, and BETTY, a theatrical New York-based band fronted by a trio of women--Alyson Palmer and sisters Amy and Elizabeth Ziff, both lesbians--who began performing together in the 1980s.

Active on behalf of gay and lesbian causes, BETTY contributed to the Out Loud CD, a benefit for human rights and freedom for lesbians and gay men, and have appeared in the gender identity film It's Pat (1994) and the lesbian love story The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love (1995).

The Billy Tipton Memorial Saxophone Quartet is a Seattle-based all-woman band named for Billy Tipton, a transgendered jazz musician, born Dorothy Tipton, who lived his life as a man for more than fifty years, in part to be able to pursue a career in music, then a man's domain.

Pop

Pop music has been filled with gay and lesbian personalities. Johnny Mathis, a sweet-faced, honey-voiced singer from Gilmer, Texas by way of San Francisco, rose to fame in the 1950s, singing ballads such as "Chances Are," his first number one single, "Misty," and "Wonderful, Wonderful." He scored Top 40 hits in each of the next four decades, and his Greatest Hits (1958) compilation stayed an astonishing 490 continuous weeks--nearly ten years--on the Billboard Top Albums Chart.

Mathis has spent more than forty years in the recording business. It was not until 1982, however, in an Us magazine article, that Mathis publicly came out as gay to his long-suspecting fans, stating: "Homosexuality is a way of life that I've grown accustomed to." The revelation did not appear to affect his record sales.

British singer Dusty Springfield was the powerhouse voice behind such hits as "Wishin' and Hopin'" (1964, covered by Ani DiFranco in 1997 for the soundtrack to My Best Friend's Wedding) and "Son of a Preacher Man" (1968).

Regarding her sexuality, Springfield stated: "Look, let's say I've experimented with most things in life. And in sex. I suppose you can sum it up that I remain right down the middle." An icon for gay and lesbian fans, Springfield teamed up in 1989 with Pet Shop Boys for "What Have I Done to Deserve This."

Singer-songwriter Laura Nyro (1947-1997) began writing as a teenager. She released her first album in 1968 at age nineteen. Acts as diverse as Three Dog Night and Barbra Streisand covered her songs "Stoney End," "Eli's Coming," and "Stoned Soul Picnic."

Elton John is a pop chameleon known as much for his ever-changing appearance as for his music. The writer of such pop/rock classics as "Bennie and the Jets," "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," and "Candle in the Wind," he came out to Rolling Stone as bisexual in 1976, then surprised fans by marrying a woman in 1984, and later stunned gays and lesbians when he performed a duet with rabidly homophobic rapper Eminem at the 2001 Grammy awards.

An enduring presence in pop music, John is arguably the most successful and prominent gay performer today. He is now refreshingly open about his long-running relationship with life-partner David Furnish, with whom he entered into a highly publicized civil partnership in 2005.

The 1980s "New Wave" era saw a number of gay musicians find success in the mainstream. Boy George, the cross-dressing lead singer of Culture Club, burst onto the scene with the band's hit "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?" (1982). Plagued by drug problems, George later embarked on a solo career as a singer and more recently as a DJ.

George Michael, who became a best-selling artist with the 1980s pop duo Wham! and later a successful solo artist, came out in 1998 following his arrest in a Beverly Hills park restroom on charges of soliciting an undercover male police officer. He seems not only to have survived the scandal, but also to have been liberated by it.

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