A personal LGBTQ playlist for Pride Month 2021 – and beyond
A couple of years ago, I made myself a playlist for Pride, because the ones you get from streamers and such are generally garbage.
Katy Perry does not represent Pride Month for me, and neither does Lady Gaga. Neither do hipstery queer acts of a more modern vintage, from John Grant to Bright Light Bright Light. I’m 50, and sometimes cranky, and I don’t listen to a ton of contemporary music, and I own that. My musical tastes are a little all over, but largely of an older era, and I own that, too. This playlist won’t work for everybody; it may not work for you. But it’s a slice of who I am, and what Pride means to me. (Also, obviously, a bunch of stuff I would’ve put in this playlist isn’t on Spotify, so there’s that.)
This is being published in July 2021, on purpose. Because Pride shouldn’t be limited to 30 days in June of each year, and then put away. (What that is, is rainbow capitalism, but that’s a whole other conversation.) Pride is something that should be year-round, should be forever. And if you don’t like that, I don’t really give a fuck.
I should say first and foremost, that I owe a huge debt in my queer musical education to JD Doyle and his Queer Music Heritage website. Likely no one in the world knows more about the history and heritage of queer music than Doyle, and his website is a veritable font of both knowledge and entertainment. When I did a deep dive on Women’s Music several years ago, his site was my first stop, and I learned so much. God bless him for the amount of research he’s done around queer music. For just one example, here’s part of an interview he did with Maxine Feldman around her landmark 1971 single “Angry Atthis,” along with the song itself (which isn’t on any streaming service).
AUDIO: Maxine Feldman “Angry Atthis”
I can’t begin to elucidate, really, on how rich a vein Women’s Music is. (Here’s a primer from NPR from 2020.) From Cris Williamson’s 1975 The Changer and the Changed – one of the most important albums ever released (here’s what Ann Powers had to say about it in 2017 – look for #123) to her Olivia Records cohort Linda Tillery (whose catalog on Spotify is sadly lacking, but fortunately, her killer “Womanly Way” shows up courtesy of a compilation), and from late ‘80s stars Tracy Chapman to Indigo Girls, both of whom are a clear part of the lineage of Women’s Music, whether or not they own the term, much of the songwriting found in the genre is ne plus ultra, and that’s not even mentioning the playing, singing, production.
Riot grrl and punk aren’t so much my thing, so this playlist is thin on those, though I do love Team Dresch’s Personal Best and almost anything by Hüsker Dü. And Dog Park Dissidents’ “Queer As in Fuck You” gives this playlist its title. Whereas new wave-slash-synthpop definitely is my thing, so you get Bronski Beat, Dead or Alive, Pet Shop Boys, and Soft Cell. (Have never cottoned to Erasure; couldn’t really tell you why, apart from a low-grade annoyance with Andy Bell’s voice.)
AUDIO: Dog Park Dissidents “Queer As In Fuck You”
A few disco, hi-NRG, and dance classics are sprinkled throughout: I can’t imagine my life without Miquel Brown’s awesome 1983 12” “So Many Men, So Little Time” (released just as AIDS was mowing down an entire generation of queer men), or Madonna’s “Vogue” (you know the story on that one), or Diana Ross’s Nile-Rodgers-wrote-her-a-cheeky-Pride-anthem “I’m Coming Out.” The legendary Sylvester means the world to me, as does Rob Halford (even if I love him more than I love his band Judas Priest), and as once did RuPaul. But whatever the latter has become (speaking of rainbow capitalism…), “Supermodel” is still an important single, especially when you consider if was in rotation on MTV in 1993, not exactly the gay-friendliest time in American history.
VIDEO: RuPaul “Supermodel (You Better Work)”
I go deeper on a few selections in this piece over on my blog, where I wrote about the 2019 version of this playlist. (I’ve edited it down for the RNRG version, linked below.) I left out a few of the more, ahem, questionable selections (Queen’s “Back Chat,” anyone?). Your mileage, of course, may vary.
And if you don’t love my musical take on Pride, on queer libreration, by all means I encourage you to make your own. Whatever Pride means to you is valid and important. This is just one man’s version. I mean, obviously I think my version is the best one, but still. And no matter what, fellow queers, don’t let your inner light be extinguished. Ever. As Joni Mitchell wrote, you are stardust, you are golden. Happy Fucking may-it-never-end Pride.