When I was asked to write a guest blog for Electroqueer, my first thought was what the hell do I write about…what is it that Electroqueer readers would want to hear from me? I mean after all, I’m just an openly gay Billboard recording artist…aren’t there several of those now days? Adam Lambert, Elton John, Melissa Etheridge, oh and let us not forget Ricky Martin to name just a few. I mean what makes me any different than these guys…besides the fact that they’ve crossed over into mainstream, won awards, and sold millions of copies of their albums. I mean how did that happen anyway? What was their secret? Could it be that they all waited to reveal their sexual orientation until AFTER they were sitting on top of the world? Hmmm, not that I could have fooled anyone pretending to be straight (I’m just too expressive), but maybe had I not been out since the moment I started performing, I too would have a Grammy and be making guest appearances at AmFAR benefits…and maybe not. When I tried to think of at least one out recording artist who has really hit mainstream that had been out since the beginning…you know, I mean OUT, told the world who they were the moment we first heard their first song, I couldn’t think of one!
It’s interesting that mainstream seems to accept artists when they think they’re like them (mostly straight). They love your music, relate to you, give you credit for helping them through life’s hardest situations, want you to sing their songs, and let you delve into the deepest part of their lives. And when they find out your gay, it really doesn’t matter much. I mean, by that point you’re already in. It would be like finding out your dog was gay and then giving it away. It’s too personal by then. But what about being gay from the beginning? Why do people have such a hard time letting you in knowing that you’re gay before they hear your message? It’s like there is a wall (homophobia) and people don’t let you in because of it, but once you’re in, it’s almost impossible to build that wall because they already think they have something in common with you. They’ve put a name and a face to a message they understand and what’s the point of building a wall once something has already passed it?
If they had known that Melissa Etheridge was singing about her relationships with women, would straight people still have related with her? Would they be okay knowing that, but willing to make the message and lyrics work for their situation like gays have done for years? Who can really say, but it’s a formula that seems to have worked for many of the out mainstream artists today.
In an ever changing world of more tolerance and acceptance, I think in time, artists will be able to perform their music and reach people of all sexual orientations regardless of their own. Until then, each artist will continue to make the choice they see best for their own journey till the day comes when a choice won’t need to be made.