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Rock Music  
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Unsuccessful in finding an American label interested in his brand of rock music, County moved to England. There he formed yet another group, The Electric Chairs; they were signed by the independent label Safari Records, which issued his 1978 debut album The Electric Chairs. Soon after came the release of the most renowned of County's songs, "Fuck Off," which Safari chose to release under a pseudonymous label. Further albums included Storm the Gates of Heaven (1978), the group's most commercially successful work, and Things Your Mother Never Told You (1979).

In 1979, Wayne County moved to Berlin and later that year reemerged as Jayne County. A live album titled Rock 'N' Roll Resurrection, County's first recording as Jayne, was released in 1980. Her next album was the self-produced Private Oyster, released in 1986. Periodic releases followed in the 1990s, some featuring new songs, others featuring reworked versions of past material. County published her autobiography, Man Enough to be a Woman, in 1996. Her most recent album is So New York (2003).

Freddie Mercury to Melissa Etheridge

The 1970s disco scene saw the emergence of such gay, or at least gay-friendly, performers as Sylvester, the Village People, and Grace Jones, and in the 1980s, dance and techno groups such as Bronski Beat, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, and the Pet Shop Boys. The world of adult-contemporary music has also seen several openly gay--and best selling--artists such as Boy George, Elton John, George Michael, Rufus Wainwright, and k.d. lang.

However, within the realm of rock music, a world dominated by swaggering men with electric guitars and their mostly straight male audiences, there have been, until quite recently, few openly gay musicians whose music also reflects their sexuality.

For example, Freddie Mercury, the gay rock icon and former front man for the British power rock group Queen, only publicly declared his homosexuality one day before his death from AIDS-related illnesses in 1991.

Likewise, Morrissey (born Steven Patrick Morrissey), lead singer of the British rock band the Smiths from 1984 to 1988, who has been embraced by many in the gay community as one of their own, has never publicly come out and has contradicted himself repeatedly on the subject of his sexuality.

There have, nevertheless, been a few exceptions. The British rocker Tom Robinson broke political ground in the late 1970s with his song "Glad To Be Gay." Although Robinson subsequently married and fathered two children, he continues to define himself in the media as either queer or bisexual. And his music continues to reflect his sexuality. He cleverly titled his 1996 album Having It Both Ways, and the bisexual-themed "Blood Brother" won him Best Song at the 1998 Gay/Lesbian American Music Awards.

Joan Jett rose to fame in the 1970s' all-girl rock band The Runaways. Her cover of "I Love Rock 'N' Roll," with her band The Blackhearts, was a number one hit in 1982; "Crimson and Clover" was another hit. Jett, however, did not come out as a lesbian until the 1990s.

One of the most successful gay rock artists today is the award-winning singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge, who began recording in 1988. Etheridge's sensual, blues-based, and autobiographical songs became even more deeply personal and confessional after she publicly came out as a lesbian in 1993. Moreover, her coming out caused her career no harm; her album Yes I Am--released in the year of her coming out--became her biggest seller to date.

Although Melissa Etheridge has a strong lesbian following, she has also become a crossover success; among her ardent fans are men and women of all sexual orientations.


Angered by the and sexism within much of the rock and punk music scenes, a group of young, militant gay musicians started a movement that has been dubbed "queercore." It is characterized by hardcore punk music and frank lyrics that address such issues as queer desire and societal prejudice.

Queercore gained notoriety in the late 1980s through such underground 'zines as Homocore, JD's, and Chainsaw, and in the art of Bruce La Bruce and G.B. Jones. Later, throughout the 1990s, queercore was most visibly exemplified by the raw music, political rage, and social commentary of such groups as Pansy Division, Fifth Column, Team Dresch, and God Is My Co-Pilot.

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