I’m coming up to the end of my month-long writing project. Two entries to go. Tomorrow’s post will take a lot of thought and time, so today’s is going to be a little more lighthearted and fun.
On June 4, @jpbrammer tweeted: “remember what it felt like when you saw a queer person owning it, and it gave you permission to be yourself? You’re that person to someone”
I hope so. One of the reasons I decided to write this month is to help queer kids — especially queer Christian kids — know they’re not alone. I know it’s 2017 and there are many more positive public examples of LGBTQ people. Thank God for Ellen DeGeneres and Neil Patrick Harris. Thank God for Will & Grace and Modern Family. But maybe some kid needs to see a 45-year-old Christian man who is finally getting real about his identity. Maybe I can help people too.
I’ve been trying to think about who that person was for me. I guess I knew vaguely about gay artists, or maybe artists who had a gay vibe about them… Boy George & Culture Club, Elton John, Freddie Mercury… But they were really on the periphery of my existence. One artist stands out to me though. To this day, I can’t remember how I discovered k.d. lang, but I’m so glad I did. Talk about a queer person OWNING IT… This woman, with the voice of a Patsy Cline (her band was even called “the reclines.” Get it?) and the swagger of a young Elvis, didn’t give a damn what anyone thought about her. Nashville never really accepted her, even after she recorded the hauntingly beautiful, completely traditional “Shadowland” with legendary producer Owen Bradley. Even after she absolutely KILLED “Crying” with Roy Orbison on like every variety show that year. I remember this particular TV performance from 1988 or 1989. It was the Country Music Awards, and she was singing “Honky Tonk Angels Medley” with Kitty Wells, Loretta Lynn and Brenda Lee. Watch this gloriously awkward performance, and you’ll see a remarkably gifted lesbian who wasn’t even officially “out” yet, but she was out to all of us “with eyes to see.” I knew deep down, even then, that I had something in common with this woman.
Who was that queer for you? I would love to hear in the comments below… And if you can add a YouTube video or a photo, even better.