TPR’s about to embark on its own series of lists, so full disclosure I’ve got top tens on the brain and hopefully you do too. The upcoming week will see all kinds of year-end compilations from all corners of the queer landscape–2009 was quite a year and I’ve always liked to look back as a way of getting ready for the next one. For ease of scope, 2009 will be the focus, topics and themes will vary greatly but they’ll all be compiled by queer folks doing important work.
Putting together my own music-centered list has been pretty satisfying, but when other pubs decide to make Grand Scope lists, like ones covering “the best ___ of all time” or even the last decade, I tend to barf. For many reasons, but mostly because such extended nostalgia tend to be self-satisfied exercises in text-wankery, and they rarely mean anything. Sure it’s a look back, but the infinite loss of context is just too great to be anything besides “Oh yeah! I remember that.” I was looking at Out’s “100 Greatest, Gayest Albums of All Time” list and immediately had a morning heave. What the hell does that mean, and how many blurbs about pop singers will I have to endure with this? Their “Greatest, Gayest Videos of All Time” is less problematic, but still a little random, and I didn’t even look at their “Gayest Christmas Songs” list because I hate Christmas and I don’t want to actually taste bile with my coffee.
Without dissecting the whole thing, I’m highlighting some choice picks from Out.com’s Greatest, Gayest list. On top are the most vexing – WHY? WHY must mainstream gay culture be so barfy? We also have my picks for surprising inclusions –at least they aren’t totally clueless to the people from our underground community that have helped shape our broader culture.
#100 – St. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band — There’s nothing gay about this that I can think of.
#91 Nightclubbing — Grace Jones is not in the top 50? And just one?
Four of Madonna’s albums AND ALSO the Immaculate Collection
#74 Michael Jackson – Off the Wall GROSS
Blurbing that Lady Miss Kier is better than a drag queen.
NO PANSY DIVISION
Blurbing that Beth Ditto refuses to wear deodorant and praising her for not filling Standing in the Way of Control with “political rants or power-lesbo rock statements”
#5 Judy Garland with the blurb: “You might think you’re too young or too butch or whatever for this 1961 chart-topper, but you’re wrong: This is one of the all-time greatest documents of old-school showbiz pizzazz” I’ve never listened to a Judy Garland song, and I’m not saying I won’t ever, but the life long insistence that I MUST keeps preventing it. The gay things I want shoved down my throat NEED to be consensual.
NOT TO BARF:
#89 Fifth Column – To Sir With Hate and lots of other queercore including Team Dresch, Bikini Kill, Le Tigre and Husker Dü
#69 Frances Faye – Caught in the Act — I hadn’t heard of this vintage queer record. I need to get it now.
#68 Nirvana – Nevermind and this quote from Kurt Cobain: “I found a gay friend who basically saved me from wanting to kill myself half the time. Apparently, everyone in high school knew he was gay, and they just didn’t bother to tell me or I just didn’t bother to notice until he decided to make a pass at me one night and I just flatly told him that I wasn’t gay but I’d still be his friend. After that, I just started to realize that people were looking at me even more peculiarly than usual and then I started getting harassed, especially in gym class. They felt threatened because they were naked and I was supposedly gay, so they either better cover up their penises or punch me… or both. But after that, I started being proud of the fact that I was gay, even though I wasn’t.”–Kurt Cobain
#17 Lou Reed – Transformer – One of the oddest records in history that has gotten mainstream attention