Well, actually they were far from it. The 1980s was a very challenging time for gay men with AIDS and homophobic legislation. But the power of pop helped them through it. After all, when it comes to gay anthems, who doesn’t think of the 1980s?
Blondie, Bananarama, Culture Club, Madge and even the delectable Divine. Like the best pop, these guys ‘n gals were fierce and indomitable. Their crazy, raucous mantras gave gay men and women the strength to weather the storm. I will survive? (well, that was actually 1978) But…Yes, we did.
Pop without a diva is like a fist fucking without the Crisco. Simply unimaginable. The lynchpin of al gay anthems are the divine divas who deliver them. So much has been written on why gay men love divas. The reasons are complex – or perhaps not! The great gay anthems are only remembered because of the fearless, outrageous ladies who sing them.
Our legendary divas have overcome adversity. They know better than anyone how to turn shit into manure. They rule supreme – and many a queen’s eyes have been scratched out should some mere mortal attempt to diss an idol.
Pop is performance. The bigger and wilder the better. Gay anthems are no place for understatement and hiding away. They’re about proclaiming you’re out and proud in the most shameless, extravagant ways possible.
No queen worth his leopard print leotard creeps out of the closet. He explodes from those doors – bursting forth amid screams and an avalanche of glitter. The performance of pop music epitomises pride.
Pop and gay anthems go arm in sequinned arm with camp. Let’s face it, a lot of pop music is in the worst possible taste. And that’s why we love it. Camp is all about irony. Susan Sontag’s Notes on Camp give us a neat little check list: artifice, frivolity, and ‘shocking’ excess. Bette Midler, Cher, Liza Minelli…the names keep coming.
Gay anthems feature the most emotive of vocal performances. Think Shirley Bassey fondling her diamonds then waving her hands around like she’s hanging the washing on a very high line – in the midst of a cyclone.
Pop is an unrepentant celebration of feelings. And there’s little subtlety to how they’re expressed. How refreshing this is to gay men, who have spent a lifetime hiding their emotions. How inspiring this is to those who have been taught to be ashamed of who they are.
Pop tells us it’s fine to yell about how we yearn to be loved or just ravished. The louder the better! The disco is a world where inhibitions are left at the door. A place where you can love as freely as you’ve ever dreamed.
When you dance you feel alive. You can feel every part of your body moving in synch to the music. Nothing is constrained. You feel free. Dance is escape. Dance is endless possibility.
Dance anthems are about defiance. About celebrating the present. About banishing the past or just the tedium and despair of everyday existence. Pop gives us the license to dance until our stilettos snap.
The greatest of the divas have constantly reinvented themselves. They’ve sprung back from personal and professional disasters to embrace new audiences – and new pop aesthetics. Gay anthems are about shape shifting. They’re about starting again and pioneering a new way of being. Of surviving. Just like life itself.
Pop is fun and joyful! It’s about unwinding, throwing caution to the wind, and being as ridiculous and unseemly as you’ve always yearned to be. No one goes to cheesy pop for high art. We head there for release.
Drama, divas, dance and daring. Pop means a bloody good time. There’s no hierarchy when we throw those crazy moves on the dance floor. We’re all equal. We’re all connecting. It’s no wonder that we never want those magic nights to end.
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