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Music: Popular  
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The Kinks' "Lola" (1970) is also about a young man's sexual awakening with a woman: "I'm not the world's most masculine [alternately "passionate"] man / But I know what I am, and I'm glad I'm a man / And so is Lola."

The soundtrack for The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1977) includes the song "Sweet Transvestite," performed by actor and singer Tim Curry.

Rocker Janis Joplin was a hard-living, wildly talented bisexual woman from Port Arthur, Texas, who redefined rock and roll. With her first band, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Joplin helped define the look and sound of Bay Area hippie rock music in the 1960s. Her hits include "Me and Bobby McGee" and "Piece of My Heart."

In a gesture of musical and continuity, Joplin, along with Juanita Green, a Philadelphia woman, bought a stone to mark the unmarked grave of pioneer blues woman Bessie Smith, who died prematurely from injuries sustained in an automobile accident. Joplin herself died too young, of a heroin overdose at age twenty-seven.

Lesbians have had a significant impact in rock as well. Joan Jett rose to fame in the 1970s all-girl rock band The Runaways. Her cover of "I Love Rock and Roll" was a number one hit in 1982; "Crimson and Clover" was another hit for her. Jett came out as a lesbian in the 1990s, and has appeared as Columbia in the Broadway production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

4 Non-Blondes, with lesbian lead singer Linda Perry, scored a huge radio hit with their 1991 song "What's Up."

Grammy award winner Melissa Etheridge, long a staple on the lesbian club scene in Long Beach, California, had a string of successful albums before she came out nationally in 1993 at an inaugural ball for President Clinton. That same year her breakthrough best-selling album Yes, I Am featured the hit "Come To My Window," with the lyrics: "I don't care what they think / I don't care what they say / What do they know about this love anyway?"

Etheridge and then-partner Julie Cypher set tongues wagging when they posed nude for a PETA [People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals] campaign in 1995, but it was nothing compared to the media coverage surrounding their revelation in January 2000 that rocker David Crosby was the biological father of their two children, conceived through artificial insemination. Etheridge has since exchanged wedding vows with actress Tammy Lynn Michaels.

Sophie B. Hawkins, whose hits include "Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover" and "As I Lay Me Down," and who was the subject of the biographical documentary The Cream Will Rise, prefers the term "omnisexual" to describe her sexuality.

Fiercely independent bisexual singer Meshell Ndegéocello became the first woman artist signed to Madonna's Maverick records. Her first album, Plantation Lullabies (1994), featured the hit "If That's Your Boyfriend (He Wasn't Last Night)."

The Murmurs, Skin--the vocalist from the late band Skunk Anansie--and Kate Schellenbach, drummer for the late band Luscious Jackson, are also lesbian rock and rollers.


Punk music, dominated by angry young men in the 1970s, re-emerged in the 1980s and 1990s with several lesbian bands at the forefront, including L7, Sleater-Kinney, Tribe 8 (a play on the old term for lesbians, "tribade"), the Butchies, and Le Tigre.

Both the Butchies (Alison Martlew, Kaia Wilson, and Melissa York, the latter two formerly of the all-dyke punk rock band Team Dresch) and Le Tigre (Kathleen Hanna, formerly of Bikini Kill, Johanna Fateman, and JD Samson) are on Mr. Lady Records, an independent label run by Wilson and her partner, Tammy Rae Carland, that also distributes lesbian videos and films.

Le Tigre combines a fiercely feminist take on art, culture, and politics with witty, high energy pop/punk performances. Former member (and one of the founders) of Le Tigre, Sadie Benning, is a lesbian video art pioneer.


The advent of disco in the early 1970s provided perhaps the watershed moment in gay music. The disco scene, centered largely in urban areas, provided an atmosphere of tolerance and release that dovetailed with the gay and lesbian rights movement born of the Stonewall Rebellion in 1969.

Much disco music focused on themes of freedom, sex, and dancing as a means of escape from the pressures and injustices of life. Examples include "It's Raining Men" (1983) by the Weather Girls (formerly Two Tons of Fun and Sylvester's backup singers Martha Wash and Izora Rhodes [Armstead]).

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