Five Straight Musicians Who Have Courted The Gays To Varying Degrees Of Success
BY: DAN TRACER
ON: MAR 7, 2015
Just in time for Madonnaâ€™s new album to hit stores (do record stores even exist anymore?), hereâ€™s a look at five musicians over the years who have identified potential to resonate in the gay community and actively worked to strengthen those ties.
Some to more success than othersâ€¦
1. Nick Jonas
Weâ€™d be remiss not to mention Nick Jonas first. He (or someone heâ€™s paying handsomely to do publicity) realized early on that a gay fan base is a good fan base. His was a multi-pronged approach. Show up live at gay bars flashing your abs? Check. Come out with a sex-forward ad champaignÂ reminiscent of locker room cruising? Check. Play a gay character on TV and be quoted saying, â€œthe sexiest things in a person is their acceptance of all peopleâ€? Check. And mate. As manufactured as his appeal to gay men might be from a marketing perspective, we get the sense that Nick really is the ally he makes himself out to be. And the fact that heâ€™s the first American straight pop starÂ go this directionÂ is, well, groundbreaking.
Do we feel pandered to? No.
2. One Direction
The boys of One Direction take after Nick Jonas in that they embody a new generation of young people who donâ€™t observe such strict lines when it comes to sexuality. It makes sense when you understand theÂ band membersÂ have grown up in an environment where gay is OK. Thereâ€™ve beenpro-gay TweetsÂ and the occasional peck on the lips. But then thereâ€™s the gay rumors, which the boys had every part inÂ slyly creating. And then moreÂ even sillierÂ gay rumors. It seems like whileÂ they may be totally cool with the gays, they started to have a bit of fun making the press jump whenever they tossed a bone. And then Louis Tomlinson got genuinely worked up when a reporter commented that wearing an Apple logo might suggest support for Tim Cook.
Do we feel pandered to? Ehh, yes.
3. Bette Midler
Bathhouse Bette, the one that started it all.Â The gay Continental Bathhouse opened their basement doors in 1968 at the Ansonia Hotel on New York Cityâ€™s Upper West Side. Owner Steve Ostrow told Betteâ€™s acting teacher at the time that he was starting a â€œnightclub in his basement.â€ Bette had recently put together a solid 20 minutes of material, and booked the gig, later revealing that she was unaware at the time that the audience members wouldÂ be in their towels. But she didnâ€™t seem to mind one bit. That gig would launch her to worldwide fame, and it all started with gays.
Do we feel pandered to? Hell fucking no!
For Madge, the equation seems to have gone inÂ reverse. The gays came to her, and she took their support to heart, willfully becoming a gay icon in the process. In 2008, record producer David Foster reportedly told Madonna thatÂ he didnâ€™t like sight of two men kissing. â€œTwo men kissing should be looked at as normal! You represent everything Iâ€™m trying to change,â€ she responded. She has spoken out against LGBT bullying and urged her fans to support gay marriage among other pro-gay gestures over the years.
Do we feel pandered to? No.
5. Katy Perry
So get this â€” Katy Perry kissed a girl, and she liked it. Our apologies if youâ€™ll now have the song stuck in your head for the next 72 hours. â€œI Kissed A Girlâ€ was released in 2008, and was a huge success for the budding pop star. The critics, however, disagreed.Â AllMusic concluded â€œthe problem is not with Katyâ€™s gender-bending, itâ€™s that her heart isnâ€™t in it; sheâ€™s just using it to get her places, so she sinks to crass, craven depths.â€Â Slant Magazine agreed, saying the song â€œisnâ€™t problematic because it promotes homosexuality, but because its appropriation of the gay lifestyle exists for the sole purpose of garnering attention â€” both from Perryâ€™s boyfriend and her audience.â€
Do we feel pandered to? Hell fucking yes.