The history of pop music by queer performers goes beyond Sylvester & came well before Pet Shop Boys. Some were out & some were forced out & some are neglected. This mp3 cd includes all that & more.
Forced out of the closet is Johnnie Ray. He, an amazingly popular torch singer in the early 50’s, was the prime target for teen hysteria in the pre-Presley days. I have At The London Palladium (1954); High Drama (1997 hits compilation) includes Cry (1951). Two arrests for soliciting under cover police offers pretty much ruined his reputation & career. His life is tragic & deserves a bio-film. He influence countless singers from Bob Dylan to Leonard Cohen.
Not actually queer music but an iconic queer film is Pink Flamingos (1972). I have the soundtrack release that coincided with the 25th anniversary release of the film on DVD in (1997). It is fun but mainly classic 50’s r’n’r such as I’m Not a Juvenile Delinquent by Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers. There needs to be a film looking at how many delinquents were queers.
From Toronto is the forgotten glamrock Justin Paige: Justin (1974) with bold songs like Sugar Daddy, Steam Queen & a cover of men in leather – this is an amazing, overlooked, historic recording. Bold lyrics done in a Joe Cocker bar-band style this is worth searching out. I bought a vinyl copy at Cheapies sometime in the 80’s based on the campy cover art & was not disappointed.
I’m sure he paved the way for Toronto’s Rough Trade: Avoid Freud (1980), Weapons (1983), O Tempora! O Mores! (1984). Carol Pope’s voice is powerful, the lyrics are funny – High School Confidential is a classic – often tackling complexity of relationships (regardless of gender). Avoid Freud is a must have in any collection.
Now a jump to another decade with Huggy Bear: sort of a compilation: Taking The Rough With The Smooch (1993) self-defined as riot grrrl “girl-boy revolutionaries.” Semi-punk with loose electric guitar, fun vocals & attitude. Perfect for queer core pogo dancers & not as dissonant as some. Similarly is Pansy Division: More Lovin’ From Our Oven (1996) a compilation of singles, unreleased tracks, demos. Total Entertainment (2003). Only Pansy has a more commercial sound – like REM but with very out lyrics & a sense of humour about lgbtq lifestyle.
Finally QBoy: Moxie (2009) One of the original few out rappers in hip hop circa 2001 – clearly a precursor to Lil Nas X but not as sexually out there as X. Not that there is conservative hip-hop but QBoy spits sex positive lyrics against a fine backdrop of samples & started to shake hiphop out of its homophobic misogynist closet.
This is the my favorite sort of mp3 cd compilation that covers a historic arch of a genre that so often get narrowed down a name or two – Elton John or Liberace aren’t the sole definitions of lgbtq music.