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arts

Alpha Index:  A-B  C-F  G-K  L-Q  R-S  T-Z

Subjects:  A-B  C-E  F-L  M-Z

     
Music: Popular  
 
page: 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  

Hip-hop, rap, and reggae are perhaps the most homophobic of popular music genres, and the lyrics have traditionally been laced with hatred and violence. Ice Cube in "Horny Lil' Devil" (1991) brazenly states: "But horny little devil true niggaz aren't gay / And you can't play with my Yo-Yo / and definitely can't play with me you fuckin homo."

Rapper Eminem drew the ire of gay and lesbian groups in 1999 over the homophobic, violent lyrics on his album The Marshall Mathers LP. Although he performed a duet of the song "Stan" with Elton John at the 2001 Grammys, Eminem later claimed to have no idea that John is gay.

Sponsor Message.

However, numerous female rappers--including Queen Latifah, M.C. Lyte, Da Brat, and Eve--have been presumed or rumored to be lesbians, though none of these artists has ever come out.

Perhaps the only explicit, positive reference to lesbianism in rap is in bisexual rapper Queen Pen's "Girlfriend" (1997), a reworking of Meshell Ndegéocello's "If That's Your Boyfriend (He Wasn't Last Night)," featuring an Ndegéocello cameo.

A more recent phenomenon, hip-hop lesbians and homo thugs, has garnered mainstream press in publications such as VIBE and XXL. Brooklyn-based Caushun (Jason Herndon), who has been spotlighted in these articles, bills himself as "The Gay Rapper." He has had success on New York radio and has been featured on MTV's program The 10 Spot.

The lyrics of reggae songs frequently advocate gay bashing and even murder. Four Jamaican reggae singers, Beenie Man, Bounty Killer, Elephant Man, and Buju Banton have been the objects of protest in the United States and Europe over their homophobic lyrics.

Banton's "Boom Bye Bye" urges listeners to shoot gay men in the head, pour acid over them, and burn them alive, while Beenie Man's "Bad Man Chi Chi Man" (Bad Man, Queer Man) includes the lyrics: "If yuh nuh chi chi (queer) man wave yuh right hand and (NO!!!) / If yuh nuh lesbian wave yuh right hand and (NO!!!) / Some bwoy will go a jail fi kill man tun bad man chi chi man!!!. / Tell mi, sumfest it should a be a showdown / Yuh seem to run off a stage like a clown (Kill Dem DJ!!!)."

In the summer of 2004, British police opened a probe into whether these songs violate British hate laws, and protests and threats of boycotts led to the cancellation of concert appearances in the United States by Beenie Man.

Carla Williams

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   Related Entries
  
arts >> Overview:  Blues Music

Blues music as it flourished in the 1920s was women's music, and it often featured sexually-inflected lyrics performed by women who were openly bisexual or lesbian.

social sciences >> Overview:  Circuit Parties

Circuit Parties refer to an ongoing series of gay-themed events that take place in major metropolitan areas throughout the year.

arts >> Overview:  Country Music

Although the roots of country music are in conservative rural America, in recent years many gays and lesbians have become attracted to it, and there has been an emergence of gay and lesbian country performers.

arts >> Overview:  Disco and Dance Music

No popular art form is more closely identified with gay culture than disco and dance music.

arts >> Overview:  Divas

The diva has traditionally played a significant role in both gay and lesbian culture as an object of cult worship with whom those who suffer the heartaches of forbidden love and ostracism from an unaccepting society find solace and identification.

arts >> Overview:  Music: Women's

Stylistically diverse and continually evolving, women's music has broadened over time, but it remains committed to lesbian visibility and feminist values.

arts >> Overview:  Rock Music

Although rock music has been closely associated with freedom of expression and rebelliousness, it has not been particularly welcoming to gay and lesbian performers.

arts >> B-52s

Commonly known as the "World's Greatest Party Band," the B-52sĀ features openly gay members who are active in glbtq, AIDS, environmental and animal rights issues.

arts >> Adam, Margie

A pioneer in the women's music movement, Margie Adam helped create a new political music genre that celebrated lesbian love and the changing lives of women.

arts >> Allen, Peter

Although not publicly out as a gay man, Australian singer and songwriter Peter Allen signaled his homosexuality through his flamboyant persona and the subtexts of many of his songs.

arts >> Baez, Joan

Legendary folk singer and catalyst for social change, Joan Baez has both described herself as bisexual and participated in the struggle for gay and lesbian rights.

arts >> Baker, Josephine

Entertainer Josephine Baker achieved acclaim as the twentieth century's first international black female sex symbol, but kept carefully hidden her many sexual liaisons with women, which continued from adolescence to the end of her life.

arts >> Bass, Lance

Singer Lance Bass gained fame as a member of the boy band *Nsync; since coming out in 2006, he has spoken on behalf of glbtq rights.

arts >> Bell, Andy

Singer and lyricist Andy Bell, half of the synth-pop duo Erasure, is one of the few openly gay, high-profile rock musicians.

arts >> Bernhard, Sandra

Sharp-tongued comedienne, writer, singer, and actor Sandra Bernhard is known almost as well for her amorphous sexuality as for her cynical wit.

arts >> Bowie, David

David Bowie, also known as "The Dame," became a leading light in 1970s "glam rock," going on to enjoy international superstar status, but his relationship to queer culture is deeply contradictory.

arts >> Boy George (George O'Dowd)

A pop icon with a rich soulful voice, Boy George, who fronted the band Culture Club in the 1980s, managed to survive homophobia, drug addiction, and fame.

arts >> Camp Records

In the early 1960s, the Camp Record label issued records of gay parody songs; although the music is without much artistic merit, the records are significant for what they reveal about pre-Stonewall gay culture.

arts >> Carter, Nell

A dynamic performer on stage, television, film, and record, Nell Carter built a successful and versatile show business career; only after her death was her longtime relationship with a woman revealed to the public.

arts >> Cheung, Leslie

Androgynously handsome Hong Kong actor and pop singer Leslie Cheung played sexually ambiguous characters, as well as romantic leads in both gay- and heterosexually-themed films.

arts >> Christian, Meg

Women's music pioneer Meg Christian was among the first performer to address lesbian and feminist issues in her songs.

arts >> DiFranco, Ani

Openly bisexual singer Ani DiFranco, described as "the thinking person's acoustic punk feminist," has drawn on an eclectic mixture of musical traditions to create a distinctive style.

arts >> Dobkin, Alix

A lifelong progressive activist and a pioneer in women's music, Alix Dobkin not only helped create a new era of women's music in the 1970s but also paved the way for mainstsream lesbian musicians.

arts >> Etheridge, Melissa

Award-winning rock singer and songwriter Melissa Etheridge has not only managed to carve out a spectacularly successful career as a popular mainstream performer, but she has also become a lesbian icon and activist for gay and lesbian causes.

arts >> Faye, Frances

Gravel-voiced vocalist and pianist Frances Faye warmly embraced her gay and lesbian audience and was openly bisexual at a time when few other performers dared to do the same.

arts >> Ferron (Debby Foisy)

Canadian folksinger Ferron (Debby Foisy) is a pioneer in women's music who has been compared to Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen.

arts >> Gately, Stephen

Singer, songwriter, and actor Stephen Gately gained fame as one of the lead vocalists in the Irish pop group Boyzone.

arts >> Geffen, David

Controversial entertainment mogul and philanthropist David Geffen transformed himself into one of the most successful people in the entertainment industry; his 1992 declaration of his homosexuality only increased his stature.

arts >> Gilbert, Peggy

A virtuoso jazz musician and leader of a number of successful all-women bands, Peggy Gilbert tirelessly promoted other female musicians and demanded that they receive respect and opportunities.

arts >> Gold, Ari

Ari Gold, the award-winning recording artist, is unusual for his openness in an industry that has not exactly welcomed openly gay performers.

arts >> Gore, Lesley

One of the few successful female solo artists during the era of the "girl groups," singer Lesley Gore is also a successful songwriter; in 2003, she came out publicly and hosted an episode of In the Life.

arts >> Grant, Cary

Although actor Cary Grant consistently denied rumors of his bisexuality, his good looks, charisma, and ambiguous sexuality enchanted women and men alike.

arts >> Griffin, Merv

Singer, talk show host, and a creator and producer of television shows, Merv Griffin remained in the closet even as his bisexuality was an open secret within show business communities.

arts >> Halford, Rob

Rob Halford--dubbed "The Metal God" by fans and critics--is one of the most talented vocalists in heavy metal music and one of the few out artists in the genre.

arts >> Harris, Sam

Multi-talented Sam Harris is best known as a singer and actor; since coming out publicly in 1999, he has lent his voice to the cause of glbtq rights.

arts >> Hockney, David

One of the liveliest and most versatile visual artists of his generation, David Hockney not only has helped break down resistance to the erotic gaze directed at the male body but also has presented gay male couples in domestic--rather than sensational or sexual--images.

arts >> Hunter, Alberta

Blues singer, lyricist, and actress Alberta Hunter, one of the top recording artists in the 1920s and 1930s, experienced a dramatic comeback in her old age.

arts >> Ian, Janis

Nine time Grammy Award nominee Janis Ian uses her artistry as songwriter and performer to further the cause of social justice.

arts >> Indigo Girls

One of the most successful folk/pop duos in recording history, Indigo Girls (consisting of Amy Ray and Emily Saliers) have earned the fierce loyalty of their fans, many of whom are lesbians.

arts >> John, Sir Elton

Pop superstar Elton John's combination of melodic skills, dynamic charisma, and raucous performance style have make him a remarkably popular musical artist.

arts >> Joplin, Janis

As troubled as she was talented, 1960s rock star and blues singer Janis Joplin created an enduring musical legacy that crosses barriers of gender, race, and class; although she never identified as bisexual, she had affairs with both men and women.

arts >> lang, k. d.

Long before she came out, lesbians had made singer k.d. lang their own.

arts >> Levan, Larry

Regularly hailed as the world's greatest DJ and widely credited with changing the sound of dance music in the 1970s and 1980s, Larry Levan was the driving force behind New York City's legendary dance club Paradise Garage.

arts >> Liberace

Liberace was for many the epitome of flamboyant camp, yet he was also a gay man who steadfastly refused to acknowledge publicly his sexual identity.

arts >> Little Richard (Richard Penniman)

A legendary figure in popular music, Little Richard, torn between his sternly religious upbringing and his homosexuality, denounced his rock and roll lifestyle at the height of his career.

arts >> Martin, Ricky

Singer Ricky Martin, whose good looks and sensuous stage performances fueled an extremely successful career in pop music, avoided answering questions related to his sexuality until 2010, when he came out publicly via a Twitter announcement.

arts >> Mathis, Johnny

One of the most gifted interpreters of romantic ballads in the history of American popular music, Johnny Mathis is notoriously reticent about his own romantic life.

literature >> McKuen, Rod

The poems and songs of the amazingly prolific Rod McKuen express a bittersweet, aching tenderness that has endeared him to millions of fans.

arts >> Mercury, Freddie

The front man of one of the world's most popular rock groups, Queen, Freddie Mercury was noted for his flamboyant, gender-bending androgyny.

arts >> Merritt, Stephin (b. 1966?) and the Magnetic Fields

Featuring an openly gay singer-songwriter and an openly lesbian accompanist and chanteuse singing songs about love in all its permutations, Stephin Merritt and the Magnetic Fields have produced some of the most critically acclaimed queer-themed popular music in recent memory.

arts >> Michael, George

Popular singer and songwriter George Michael, who confirmed his long-rumored homosexuality after an arrest for "lewd behavior" in 1998, has devoted much effort to AIDS charities since 1992.

arts >> Ndegeocello, Meshell

Singer, songwriter, and bassist Meshell Ndegeocello is a notably eclectic artist whose music confronts social and sexual issues, including racial identity, same-sex attraction, and homophobia.

arts >> Near, Holly

Activist, singer, and songwriter Holly Near has been a tremendous influence in the formation and promotion of the women's music movement.

arts >> Ottman, John

In addition to scoring over thirty full-length motion pictures, American film composer, editor, and director John Ottman has also created musical compositions for numerous short films, television programs, and commercials.

arts >> Pansy Division

The first rock band entirely composed of gay musicians who sang frankly gay-themed tunes, Pansy Division have recently emerged with a more mature sound.

arts >> Porter, Cole

Living the paradoxical life of an openly closeted gay man, songwriter Cole Porter introduced non-normative values and risqué double entendres into what was one of the most pedestrian and hackneyed of cultural forms.

arts >> Rainey, Gertrude ("Ma")

"Mother of the Blues" Gertrude "Ma" Rainey made no secret of her relationships with women.

arts >> Ray, Johnnie

Singer Johnnie Ray caused a sensation in the 1950s with energetic concert performances of hit songs, but his career was damaged by arrests for solicitation and gossip about his sexuality.

arts >> Robinson, Tom

British rocker and activist Tom Robinson was embraced by the gay rights movement in the late 1970s, but became the subject of controversy in the 1990s when he chose to live with a woman and become a father.

arts >> RuPaul (RuPaul Andre Charles)

A six-foot five-inch tall African-American drag queen who usually performs in a blonde wig, RuPaul has given drag a new visibility by infusing it with gentleness and warmth.

arts >> Russo, Renato

One of Brazil's most popular rock singers, Renato Russo challenged homophobia in his homeland by coming out as a gay man.

arts >> Scissor Sisters

The American pop band Scissor Sisters was spawned in New York City's gay club scene; frequently addressing issues of transgressive sexuality, the band has cultivated a large glbtq fan base.

arts >> Smith, Bessie

Gifted with a powerful voice and sophisticated musical artistry, singer Bessie Smith conducted her life by her own set of rules and had affairs with both men and women.

arts >> The Smiths and Morrissey

A Manchester pop group that flourished from 1982 to 1987, The Smiths created a highly original brand of punk-inspired music with queer subtexts; the group's singer and lyricist, Morrissey, in his solo career cultivates an androgynous image.

arts >> Somerville, Jimmy

Noted for his diminutive size and amazing voice, Jimmy Somerville achieved fame as the lead singer with the openly gay pop groups Bronski Beat and The Communards; many of his songs are overtly political and deal with such issues as gay relationships and the loss of friends to AIDS.

arts >> Springfield, Dusty

Now widely acclaimed as one of the greatest voices of popular music, British rock star of the 1960s Dusty Springfield has long been a lesbian icon.

arts >> Stipe, Michael

Lead singer, lyricist, and composer for the rock band R.E.M., as well as a movie producer, Michael Stipe identifies himself as a queer artist.

arts >> Sweet Honey in the Rock

An ensemble of Black women singers who are also cultural and political activists, Sweet Honey in the Rock has embraced lesbianism as a life force and given it a voice.

arts >> Sylvester

One of the most original and talented musicians to come out of the disco arena, Sylvester was a versatile stylist who brought depth--as well as campiness--to all his material.

arts >> Thornton, Willie Mae "Big Mama"

A powerhouse performer noted for her no-nonsense stage presence and a penchant for cross-dressing, blues singer and songwriter Big Mama Thornton not only established a signature style of her own, but also inspired mainstream rockers.

arts >> Wainwright, Rufus

Singer and songwriter Rufus Wainwright, dubbed the "thinking gay man's sex symbol," has built a successful career with witty lyrics and rich melodies.

arts >> Warhol, Andy (as artist)

The avatar of Pop Art, Andy Warhol expressed desire in his images of celebrities and flouted traditional notions of masculinity by embracing extravagance, effeminacy, and an obsession with surface appearances.

arts >> Wenner, Jann

Jann Wenner, founder and editor of the influential music and culture magazine Rolling Stone, was outed in 1995.

arts >> Williamson, Cris

Pioneering singer, songwriter, activist, and teacher, Cris Williamson has been at the forefront of the women's music movement--and a major presence in the lesbian community--for decades.

arts >> Young, Will

The first winner of the British Pop Idol talent show, Will Young has gone on to achieve success as a recording artist and actor, while also using his celebrity to advocate for good causes.


    Bibliography
   

Bashir, Samiya A. "Strictly for the Ladies." XXL 5.6 (July 2001): 116-120.

Davis, Angela Y. Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude 'Ma' Rainey, Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday. New York: Pantheon Books, 1998.

Faris, Jocelyn. Liberace: A Bio-Bibliography. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1995.

Hardy, James Earl. B-Boy Blues: A Seriously Sexy, Fiercely Funny, Black-On-Black Love Story. Los Angeles: Alyson Publications, 1994.

Jackson, Joe. A Cure for Gravity. New York: Public Affairs, 1999.

Jasper, Tony. Johnny: The Authorised Biography of Johnny Mathis. London: W. H. Allen, 1983.

Liberace. An Autobiography. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1973.

_____. The Things I Love: America's Greatest Showman Invites You on an Intimate Tour through His Homes and Shares the Treasures of His Fabulous World. New York: Grossett & Dunlap, 1976.

MacLean, Stephen. Peter Allen: The Boy from Oz. Milsons Point, Australia: Random House Australia, 1996.

McDonnell, Evelyn, and Ann Powers, eds. Rock She Wrote: Women Write About Rock, Pop, and Rap. New York: Delta Books, 1995.

Middlebrook, Diane. Suits Me: The Double Life of Billy Tipton. New York: Mariner Books, 1999.

Moore, Peter. "Outcry Grows against Anti-Gay Singers." www.365gay.com (August 19, 2004): www.365gay.com/newscon04/08/081904ukBeenie.htm.

Thomas, Bob. Liberace: The True Story. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1987.

Venable, Malcolm. "A Question of Identity." VIBE 9.7 (July 2001): 98-106.

White, Charles. The Life and Times of Little Richard: The Quasar of Rock. New York: Harmony Books, 1984.

Artist Home Pages:

www.lauranyro.com/.

www.adegbalola.com/.

www.rufuswainwright.com/.

www.bitchandanimal.com.

www.melissaetheridge.com.

johnnymathis.com/.

www.kdlang.com.

www.joanjett.com/.

www.sonymusic.co.uk/georgemichael/.

www.hollynear.com/.

www.thebutchies.com/.

letrigreworld.com.

www.hellobetty.com/.

www.righteousbabe.com.

www.candyekane.com/.

www.coleporter.org/.

www.liberace.org/.

www.dustyspringfield.co.uk/.

www.eltonjohn.com/.

www.joejackson.com/.

www.smoe.org/soniadf/ (Sonia and disappear fear).

thecreamwillrise.com/ (Sophie B. Hawkins page).

www.smelll7.com/main.html.

www.jimmysomerville.co.uk/.

www.rupaul.com/.

indigogirls.com.

www.michellemalone.com/.

www.wendybucklew.com/.

www.kristenhall.com/.

www.vickirandle.com.

www.culturalheritagechoir.com.

www.skunkanansie.com.

www.criswilliamson.com.

Additional Pages:

Sullivan, Tom. "Remember Ma Rainey," www.lambda.net/~maximum/rainey.html.

LBGT Hip Hop: www.phatfamily.org/.

Frances Faye Fan Page: hometown.aol.com/tyjonal/myhomepage/fan.html.

Little Richard Fan Page: www.kolumbus.fi/timrei/lre.htm.

A Collection of Indigo Girls Information: lifeblood.net [contains an extensive articles database that is relevant to almost all of the artists discussed].

www.andwedanced.com/artists/sylvest.htm.

www.soulwalking.co.uk/Sylvester.html.

www.sbu.ac.uk/stafflag/johnnymathis.html.

www.mrlady.com/.

www.killrockstars.com/.

www.mrsfun.com/.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Williams, Carla  
    Entry Title: Music: Popular  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated July 6, 2009  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/arts/music_popular.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2002, glbtq, Inc.  
 

 

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