1920: popularity Mamie
Smith’s “Crazy Blues”
led to an explosion in
blues music, especially
among female singers
Ma Rainey: “Prove It On
Me Blues”
Bessie Smith: vaudeville
performances, race
Lyrics laced with double
1935: Lucille Bogan
(Bessie Jackson) –
“B.D. Woman’s Blues”
Popularity of blues
declined in the 1940s
Visibility of queer
artists also declined
during that time
1920s-50s: Cole Porter
› “I Get A Kick Out of
› “Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall
In Love”
1930s – 1980s:
› Flamboyant pianist
› Strongly denied being
gay, frequently sued
people who accused
him of being gay
1930s – 1990s:
Frances Fay: jazz,
cabaret, showtune
› “My name is
Frances—I’m very
gay, gay, gay”
› Numerous double
entendres in lyrics
Peter Allen: Liza
Minnelli's ex husband
Billy Tipton: jazz
› Assigned female at
› Lived as a man
throughout his music
career (some say
because of sexism in
music industry)
Rufus Wainwright:
heavily influenced by
Cole Porter
Johnny Mathis: active
since the 50s, came out
as gay in 1982
› “Wonderful, Wonderful”
› Christmas songs
› Obnoxious vibrato
Dusty Springfield: openly
› “I Only Want To Be With
› “What Have I Done To
Deserve This?”
Laura Nyro: wrote songs
for Barbra Streisand, The
5th Dimension, many more
 Elton John
 1980s: explosion of gay
pop & new wave artists
Boy George (Culture Club)
George Michael (Wham!)
Pet Shop Boys
The Smiths
Jill Sobule: “I Kissed A
Girl” (1996)
› “Supermodel” from
› Pink Pearl
Lance Bass came out
in 2006
Rise of Lady Gaga &
Born This Way
Adam Lambert
1939: “Lavender
Cowboy” by Vernon
Dalhart, banned from the
1973: Lavender Country
released debut album
k.d. lang: Canadian
country singer
› Came out as gay in
1992, not well received
in the U.S.
2010: Chely Wright
came out
1972: Joan Baez came out
after ending her marriage
Bernice Johnson Reagon:
lead member of Sweet
Honey (all women’s a
cappella group)
Indigo Girls: both openly
gay, strong queer fanbase
Lilith Fair: Sarah
McLachlan’s all women’s
summer tour, 1997-99 &
Anne DiFranco: “poster
dyke”, radical queer?
1950s – present:
constant speculation
about Little Richard’s
1970s – present: David
› Rise of glam rock
› Androgynous
1970s-1990s: Freddie
Lou Reed
› “Walk on the Wild Side”
› The Velvet
Janis Joplin: bisexual
woman, prominent figure in
rock music
› “Me and Bobby McGee”
› “Piece of My Heart”
› Joplin & Juanita Green
placed a stone on Bessie
Smith’s previously
unmarked grave
Joan Jett: lead member of
The Runaways
› “I Love Rock N’ Roll”
Linda Perry: 4 Non
› “What’s Up”
Riot grrrl movement
› Sleater-Kinney
› The Butchies
Michael Stipe of R.E.M. is
openly bisexual
 Melissa Etheridge: came
out in 1993
› “Come To My Window”
› “I’m The Only One”
Sigur Ros: lead singer
Jonsi is openly gay
 Laura Jane Grace: lead
singer/guitarist of Against
Me!, came out as trans in
Largely centered in urban
areas, with visible gay &
lesbian communities
 The Village People:
parodied gay stereotypes,
sold over 65 million records
 Grace Jones: androgynous
model & disco star
› “I Need A Man”
› “Pull Up to the Bumper”
› “You Make Me Feel
(Mighty Real)
RuPaul: “Supermodel”
Openly and viciously
homophobic lyrics
 Hypermasculinity (and
 Irony of “swag”
 Queer hip-hop artists
 Rise of sissy bounce
from southern hip-hop
 Azealia Banks
 Caushun
 Nicky Da B
 Le1f
 Mykki Blanco
 House of LaDosha
Teddy Prendergrass
› Caught with a trans
woman after a car
Eddie Murphy
› Found with a trans
female prostitute
Luther Vandross
› Media constantly
speculated his sexuality
Frank Ocean: came out
as bisexual in 2012
Openly homophobic
Artists frequently
promote queer bashing
& murder in their
Beenie Man
Elephant Man
Buju Banton
The Radio Dept.: Swedish
shoegaze & dream pop
› “Keen On Boys” about a
straight-identified man
sleeping with a gay man
The Knife: Swedish
electronic duo
› Shaking The Habitual
covers current topics in
queer theory
Perfume Genius: openly
gay singer-songwriter
› Many songs about his
experiences as a young
gay prostitute & his battles
with drug addiction
Rostam Batmanglij:
Vampire Weekend &
Owen Pallett: composer,
singer, violinist from
Arcade Fire & solo
Amanda Palmer: The
Dresden Dolls, solo
Tegan & Sara
The Hidden Cameras

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