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Special Features Index  

Spotlight Rock Music
Although Rock Music has been closely associated with freedom of expression and rebelliousness, it has frequently been hostile to gay and lesbian performers. Nevertheless, both closeted and out glbtq performers are an important part of the Rock Music universe.
David BowieDavid Bowie (b. 1947), 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.
Ani DiFrancoAni DiFranco (b. 1970) is an openly bisexual singer who has been described as "the thinking person's acoustic punk feminist." She has drawn on an eclectic mixture of musical traditions to create a distinctive style.
Brian Epstein (1934-1967) created the public image and oversaw the career of the world's most famous rock group, the Beatles. At the peak of his success he suffered acute anxiety that his homosexuality might be exposed.
Melissa EtheridgeMelissa Etheridge (b. 1961) is an award-winning rock singer and songwriter who has not only managed to carve out a spectacularly successful career as a popular mainstream performer, but has also become a lesbian icon and activist for gay and lesbian causes.
David Geffen (b. 1943) is a controversial entertainment mogul and philanthropist who transformed himself into one of the most successful people in the entertainment industry; his 1992 declaration of his homosexuality only increased his stature.
Lesley Gore (b. 1946) is one of the few female solo artists to succeed during the era of the "girl groups" in the 1960s. Gore is also a songwriter and has influenced many women artists from Debbie Harry to Madonna. Since coming out publicly in 2003, she has hosted episodes of In the Life and reached out to members of the glbtq community.
Ro HalfordRob Halford (b. 1951) has been dubbed "The Metal God" by fans and critics. Halford, who has spent most of his career with the heavy metal band Judas Priest, is one of the most talented vocalists in heavy metal music and one of the few out artists in the genre.
Indigo Girls, which consists of Amy Ray and Emily Saliers, is one of the most successful folk/pop duos in recording history. Ray and Saliers have earned the fierce loyalty of their fans, many of whom are lesbians.
Joan JettJoan Jett (b. 1960) is an aggressive, punk-influenced guitarist and singer associated with the "riot grrrl" phenomenon. Jett remains vital as a musician, producer, and actor and has attracted a sizeable lesbian following.
Sir Elton JohnSir Elton John (b. 1947) is a pop superstar whose combination of melodic skills, dynamic charisma, and raucous performance style have made him a remarkably popular musical artist.
Janis Joplin (1943-1970) was as troubled as she was talented. The 1960s rock star and blues singer created an enduring musical legacy that crosses barriers of gender, race, and class. Though she never identified as bisexual, she had affairs with both men and women.
  k. d. langk. d. lang (b. 1961) is an anomaly in the music world both because she is a lesbian and because she refuses to confine herself within a specific genre.  
  Little RichardLittle Richard (b. 1932) is a legendary figure in popular music. Torn between his sternly religious upbringing and his homosexuality, he denounced his rock and roll lifestyle at the height of his career.  
  Freddie MercuryFreddie Mercury (1946-1991) was the front man of one of the world's most popular rock groups, Queen. That he was able to maintain this status in spite of critical hostility, his flamboyant androgyny, and questions about his sexuality is one of the more impressive accomplishments in the history of popular culture.  
  Stephin MerritStephin Merrit (b. 1966?) and the Magnetic Fields features an openly gay singer-songwriter and an openly lesbian accompanist and chanteuse singing songs about love in all its permutations. The group has produced some of the most critically acclaimed queer-themed popular music in recent memory.  
  Meshell NdegeocelloMeshell Ndegeocello (b. 1968) is a notably eclectic singer, songwriter, and bassist. Her music confronts social and sexual issues, including racial identity, same-sex attraction, and homophobia.  
  Music Videos rarely featured gay and lesbian content in the early 1980s, but with more openly gay and bisexual artists that situation has gradually changed.  
  Pansy DivisionPansy Division was the first rock band entirely composed of gay musicians who sang frankly gay-themed tunes. After a productive period of recording and touring, the band dissolved, but has since reunited.  
  Popular Music.has been tremendously influenced by gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered artists and audiences. Musical genres such as Disco and Dance have been more receptive to a homosexual presence than others such as Jazz and Rock.  
  Johnnie RayJohnnie Ray (1927-1990) caused a sensation in the 1950s with energetic concert performances of hit songs that earned him the title "Prince of Wails," but his career was damaged by arrests for solicitation and gossip about his sexuality.  
  Lou Reed (b. 1942) is a bisexual rock musician who came to symbolize the rebellious outsider in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Reed first achieved notoriety with Velvet Underground, a group closely associated with Andy Warhol's Factory.  
  Tom RobinsonTom Robinson (b. 1950) is a British rocker and activist who was embraced by the gay rights movement when he sang "Glad to Be Gay" in the late 1970s. He became the subject of controversy in the 1990s when he chose to live with a woman and become a father.  
  Renato Russo (1960-1996), one of Brazil's most popular rock stars, challenged homophobia in his homeland by coming out as a gay man.  
  The Smiths, a Manchester pop group that flourished from 1982 to 1987, created a highly original brand of punk-inspired music with queer subtexts. The group's singer and lyricist, Morrissey, cultivates an androgynous image in his solo career.  
  Dusty Springfield (1939-1999), a British rock star of the 1960s, has long been a gay and lesbian icon and is recognized as one of the most prominent white soul singers ever. Springfield came out as a bisexual in 1971, though recent biographies have shown that she was a lesbian.  
  Michael StipeMichael Stipe (b. 1960), lead singer, lyricist, and composer for the rock band R.E.M, as well as a movie producer, identifies himself as a queer artist.  
  Jann Wenner (b. 1946) is the founder and editor of the influential music and culture magazine Rolling Stone, a founder of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and an ardent advocate of free speech. A media storm resulted when Wenner left his wife of 25 years for a man in 1995.  


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