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Rocking our world

Gay music at front, center of pop mainstream

By GINA VIVINETTO
Published August 26, 2004

I got an e-mail from a publicist recently with the heading "Gay Music Goes Mainstream," and after that the little adage, "It's good to be gay."

In the past, I've written about the contributions gay folks have made to pop music, mentioning artists such as R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe, Fred Schneider of the B-52's, K.D. Lang, Sleater-Kinney's Carrie Brownstein, Boy George, Johnny Mathis, Bob Mould and Grant Hart of Husker Du, Melissa Etheridge, Elton John - heck, everyone from Cole Porter to Rob Halford of Judas Priest.

So, I'm not so sure it's just now that gay music has gone mainstream.

I have, however, been seeing folks celebrating gayness more in pop music.

Yoko Ono, one of my favorite artists - both conceptual and musical - this summer re-recorded her hit Every Man Has a Woman Who Loves Him, changing the lyrics to Every Man Has a Man Who Loves Him. (A third version for women-loving women is soon to be released.) The song was originally released on Ono and John Lennon's Double Fantasy album in 1980.

The artist, who has seen a resurrection of her musical career and calls herself simply ONO, performed the revamped version at this summer's gay pride rally in New York. It's now at the top of Billboard's dance charts.

Ono, 71, is vocal about her support of gay and lesbian marriage. That issue, she says, is what led her to re-record the song.

"I should think that people would be more interested in politics and all that is happening (in the world) rather than two lovebirds who are looking to wed," Ono told an interviewer this summer.

"I think it's very nice that in an age when love is so scarce that people are willing to gamble on getting married."

The news release that told me how festive it was to be gay introduced a new Web site with the aim of keeping people up to date on this "queer music revolution."

The site, www.gay.com/entertainment/music/buzzworthy has the lowdown on hot new groups such as New York's campy dance-art-rock combo Scissor Sisters who do that fab disco cover of Pink Floyd's Comfortably Numb, bisexual singer Rachel Sage and country hunk Matt Alber.

The site also features gay hip-hop artists, punk bands and even a Christian rock duo.

Ever heard hip-hop music rapped by a guy who's both gay and Jewish? Ari Gold is out and proud about it. The 27-year-old New Yorker, who poses shirtless to show off his washboard abs in promo pics for Space Under Sun, his soulful debut, says he touts his sexuality to reach out to gay youths who lack role models.

"For me, rather than just wanting to be famous for getting on MTV and for writing songs, it's more important to reach a gay audience and to give them something that they don't have, something I didn't have when I was growing up," Gold told Time Out New York.

As for Halford, of Judas Priest, he lives openly as a gay man and tells interviewers he's happy to be out of the closet. Leather-clad Halford told Time Out New York that heavy metal fans have embraced him since he came out in an interview in The Advocate in 1998, just after Judas Priest broke up.

"The wonderful thing was the acceptance and human intelligence of the metal community," Halford said. "I think a lot of people look at us as a bunch of Neanderthals. . . . There's a misconception that metal people wouldn't be able to handle this kind of thing, and that just wasn't the case."

Since then, Priest has reunited. Halford and the gang are touring as headliners with Black Sabbath on this year's Ozzfest bill, which hits the Ford Amphitheatre in Tampa on Sept. 2.

* * *

FOSTER AT FLIRT: Another out-and-proud gay performer is singer-guitarist Jen Foster, who performs at Flirt nightclub in Ybor City at 9:30 p.m. Sept. 3 with local favorites Halcyon.

Foster is making waves for singing catchy pop a la Sheryl Crow, and love songs about chicks, on her critically acclaimed debut Everybody's Girl.

Flirt is at 1909 N 15th St. Admission is $10. Ages 21 and up.

-- Gina Vivinetto can be reached at 727 893-8565 or gina@sptimes.com

[Last modified August 25, 2004, 09:24:13]


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