House of Ladosha

House of Ladosha, musically starting in 2007, is a hip-hop group unlike any other. Composed of Antonio Blair (Dosha Devastation) and Adam Radakovich (Cunty Crawford Ladosha), House of Ladosha was inspired by New York ball culture. Not only do they throw shade with the beats of their music and their lyrics, but they also dress mostly in drag.

Their music is not a force to be reckoned with. Their performances can be described as ‘an explosion of glamor and terror.’ When watching their performances, you are likely to see Adam dancing more than Antonio, but the atmosphere of the places they perform is definitely like one of those rave clubs. They get their inspiration for their music as they are sleeping at night or while meditating. Antonio normally finds wealthy suitors at her feet, sex with mythological characters and a royal house of cannibalistic “cock pussy bitch faggots” that wear elaborate costumes. Respecting her body, Antonio abandons the usual references to the penis, vagina and butt replacing the hyper-sexualized language that goes with these words. The metaphors she uses instead almost describe interpretations of Salvador Dali paintings.

Both Antonio and Adam had very different childhoods, but they had one thing in common: their parents accepted them for who they were. Antonio grew up in Nashville, Tennessee. His parents were both “art-raging,” so he was always surrounded by everything art related. His parent’s did not care about gender norms either; he had over 30 Barbie dolls when he was younger, and he also wanted to be a gymnast as a child because of their outfits.

Adam grew up in a small town in Ohio. Although his parents were conservative schoolteachers, they always let him explore and do what he wanted to do. His older brother, Brian turned him onto rap music. As a child, he also loved any sort of television show that made him feel excited and fashionable.

As well as music, House of Ladosha is also considered to be like a second family. The starting members of the house all met in New York. They had all traveled from all over the country to attend New York’s fashion school. They started out going to parties together, but then it became much more as they got more comfortable with each other. Their family is described differently than the standard American family, however: this family consists of people that they have ki ki’s with. Those who are apart of this family also have dinner together and talk on the phone with each other. As a whole, the House of Ladosha family is a group of artists who rage.

Little Richard

While watching John Waters’ controversial movie Pink Flamingoes for this course, one thing that lingered in my mind was how important the film, and its creator, ultimately were to queer culture. Despite what you may (and let’s be honest, will) think about it by its conclusion if you can stomach it, it is a cult classic still talked about today with fans similar to those of Rocky Horror, and there was nothing like it or him at the time of its theatrical release. I consider Little Richard in the same way I consider John, because even today it is hard to state there was anything, or anybody, quite like Little Richard at the time.

Little Richard in my opinion is not just an important part of music culture, but queer culture as well. For one thing, the subject of his sexuality was a mystery throughout his career, and that mystery continues to this day. Whether it’s intentionally vague or not can also be debated, but what is known is he’s admitted to having sexual relationships with men and women, had drag queen stints, married a woman, told his biographer in 1984 he is omnisexual, told both his biographer and Penthouse magazine in 1995 he is homosexual, and authorized Mojo magazine calling him a “bisexual alien” in 2007. Who knows? The only thing that seems crystal clear amidst all the confusion is he does not identify as straight.

Little Richard was like nobody else on the planet at the time, in more ways than his sexual orientation. He broke barriers for both sound and skin color that were unheard of in his heyday. He was one of the first popular black crossover artists in music, selling out stadiums filled with black fans and white fans, appealing to minorities while being embraced by the majorities. He combined elements of different music genres like gospel music and the blues into rock and roll music everybody could not help but love, even if they did not want to; they usually did not want to, because of both his questionable sexual orientation and his androgynous appearance. And his voice. Holy shit, his voice! Drag queens in the ’50s who wore long wigs or had long hair like him, and who ever sounded high pitched like him (singing or just talking) were usually banished to the darkest recesses of street corners or bars with very low attendance, but in that same time Richard was selling out major stadiums and earning the respect of all who viewed his performances (spoiler: there were a lot of viewers). His flamboyance was never seen before from a major musician of the time, let alone a singer in as high a profile as him. His high pitch vocal style still resonates in gay bars in California, where “Tutti Frutti” can commonly be heard on the same night on the dance floor as Sam Smith’s “I’m Not The Only One” and Adele’s “Hello”.

Every single thing that made Little Richard Little Richard was odd, weird, and was not seen before he entered the stage, entered the public eye, entered people’s thoughts, hearts, and minds, and blew it all away with good catchy music you could not help but dance to, even if you had nobody to dance with. His influence and excellence inspired generations of straight, queer, and questioning individuals alike to get into music, while simultaneously inspiring musicians of his same generation to improve (as both musicians, and people). There was never anybody quite like Little Richard before he started, and I cannot say there has been anybody quite like Little Richard ever since.

Only Straight Girls Wear Dresses Stereotype

Only Straight Girls Wear Dresses is a lovely song by CWA from a compilation album called Stars Kill Rock. About twenty different artists contributed to this alternative rock album. The album itself was released by a label called Kill Rock Stars in 1993 which was a “left-wing, feminist, and anti-war” label.

The lyrics of this song and even the title portray a certain stereotype for women in general. I feel as though in the LGBTQ+ community as well as in the cishet (cisgender, heterosexual folks) community girls who like girls are seen as badass and really butch. On the other hand, straight girls are seen as very feminine and into “girly” things. None of that is necessarily true. Straight girls as well as lesbians come in many different types. There are femme lesbians, butch lesbians, dykes, bull dykes, and many different more. Then on the other hand, there are different types of straight girls. They can be masculine or feminine or anything in between. With that said, what one identifies with can change at any time. The point I’m trying to make here is that physical appearance and sexuality don’t necessarily correspond. In some cases it does and in others it doesn’t.

I heard this song a really long time ago like in middle school (I was weird, okay), and when we began George Chauncy I thought about this song. The reason being was the discussion on the different types of homosexual men. When talking about the types of gay men, I thought about the different types of lesbian and straight women. I feel as though there there are a lot of expectations for lesbians but not nearly as much for gay men. That is how this song relates back to the class. Gay men and lesbians are similar enough in the types that there are. More feminine gay men are like femme lesbians. This song could really be switched around to say “you know, only straight men act very masculine and like sports and stuff” which again, isn’t necessarily true.

Lesbians cool only for the summer?

Demi Lovato, popular singer and actress, has continued to stay in the public eye and influence teens for many years now. She got her start as a child on “Barney & Friends.” In 2008 and 2010, she became a Disney Channel star in the hit movies “Camp Rock” and “Camp Rock 2” with the Jonas Brothers. In 2009, she was given her own Disney show, “Sonny with a Chance.”

Her music career took off during that time, as well.  In 2008, she released her first album, “Don’t Forget,” which was very pop in genre. Her second album “Here We Go Again,” was released in 2009, and it appeared on the U.S. Billboard 200. It’s top track made the Billboard Hot 100 at number 15.

During 2010, her music and acting career took a hiatus due to mental health issues. She openly discussed  her issues with anorexia, bulimia, self-harm, and bipolar disorder. In early 2011, she entered a rehab facility for three months to undergo treatment for these issues.

Three months after her release from the treatment center, she told People magazine, “What’s important for me now is to help others.”

After overcoming her struggle with mental health, her music took a meaningful turn. With every song that she released, she encouraged self-confidence, acceptance, and strength. Her third album, “Unbroken,” addressed a lot of her personal mental health issues. The album’s emotional and powerful lead single, “Skyscraper,” was Lovato’s first top ten single.

In the midst of trying to destroy the negative mental health stigma in society, she also became an advocate for the LGBTQ community. On numerous occasions, she publicly spoke about supporting same-sex marriage.

Check out this video:

In 2014, she served as the Grand Marshal for LA Pride Week, where she filmed her music video for her single, “Really Don’t Care.”

Lovato at LA Pride 2014

Her newest album, “Confident,” was just recently released on October 16th. Similar to her other music after her recovery, it embodies self-confidence and acceptance.

“Confident” album cover

Billboard.com comments on the album: “Since her emancipation from the Disney Channel’s clutches, Demi Lovato has become one of pop’s leading motivational figures, wailing songs about self-empowerment and talking to Congress about destigmatizing mental illness.”

However, the release of the album’s first single, “Cool for the Summer,” received some backlash from critics and fans. The song doesn’t embody the same attitude of all her other music, which is being yourself and being proud of who you are

I am a fan of the song, and I really liked it when I first heard it on the radio this summer. At a first listen, I didn’t realize this song is actually about a lesbian relationship since it does not use any pronouns whatsoever.

Listening closely to the lyrics, however, it became very clear: “I’m a little curious, too,” “Got a taste for the cherry, I just need to take a bite,” and “Don’t be scared, ’cause I’m your body type.”

A song like this from Demi Lovato, a powerful advocate for the LGBTQ community, is not unexpected. However, overall message of the song threw me off, and I was not the only one.

The song is about a lesbian relationship, but it suggests that the relationship is not approved by society, and that it needs to be kept a secret.

She sings, “Shhh…Don’t tell your mother,” “We’re cool for the summer,” and “Just something that we wanna try.”

Overall, the song depicts a secretive, experimental lesbian relationship that isn’t very serious, and that it’s just “cool for the summer.”

Afterellen.com comments, “Certainly there are women whose interests align with “Cool For the Summer,” but when pop stars create hits about bisexuality being less serious or, you know, cool but just “for the summer,” it implies female/female relationships should be (or are) not on the same level of sincerity that a female/male romance might be.”

Being an ally of the LGBTQ community, Lovato would most likely disagree with this statement; however, the lyrics to her song suggest differently.

The issue with this song can be easily connected to a reading we recently did in class by George Chauncey, “Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World 1980-1940.” Chauncey introduces the myths of isolation, invisibility, and internalization. The myths of invisibility and internalization can be recognized in the lyrics of “Cool for the Summer.”

Chauncey states, “The myth of invisibility holds that, even if a gay world existed, it was kept invisible and thus remained difficult for isolated gay men to find” (3).

He also states, “The myth of internalization holds that gay men uncritically internalized the dominant culture’s view of them as sick, perverted, and immoral, and that their self-hatred led them to accept the policing of their lives rather than resist it” (Chauncey 4).

In the song, Lovato tells her female partner to keep the relationship quiet, especially from her mother. She fears that society will disapprove, so the relationship is kept invisible. She internalizes the fact that they will be judged negatively for participating in homosexual behavior.

Overall, this song does not align with what Demi Lovato claims to support. It sheds a negative light on lesbian relationships, and it supports hiding who you really are in fear of being criticized by society.

Queering Racist Symbols

While watching the movie “To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar”, I was so wrapped up in the plot that I did not notice the big details. One of the larger details that I missed that was brought up in class is the moment in the film when RuPaul dressed in the confederate flag at a drag ball. The ball occurs in the beginning of the film; the three main characters are in a competition to take the ball’s title. RuPaul is introduced as last year’s winner and makes her début donning the glamorous confederate flag gown. RuPaul is one of the most widely known drag queens. She is an actor, recording artist, television show host, and has been the face of drag queens for quite some time.

Not only is RuPaul’s dress made from the confederate flag, but also the dress is made to be very extravagant and glittered. RuPaul has taken the very negative symbol that goes against even aspect of her character – black male, queer, drag queen – and turned it into a freaking dress. If that is not a huge   to the confederate flag and its meaning, I do not know what is.

RuConfed

There has been a controversial debate around what the confederate flag represents. Some people believe it is a symbol of southern pride – while most recognize the confederate flag as a symbol of racism and a reference to the horrible acts perpetuated against black people during that time. The flag also represents white supremacy and the push that happened against the civil rights movement. In my opinion, if the confederate flag is considered a symbol of southern pride, we have to take into consideration the period in which this represents. The south openly embraced slavery and the lynching of black peoples during the time the confederate flag was embraced. It is also important to note that this era has not ended, these acts have just changed form and are still perpetrated in a different manner. Southern pride must include that history so if you are claiming to embrace racist ideals. During the time of the confederate flag, this was also southern pride:

The only difference between these two images is that this image cannot be put on a flag and be mainstream.

Why is RuPaul wearing this symbol of racism and white supremacy?

Elizabeth Freeman would describe this phenomenon in terms of “temporal drag”. According to Freeman’s piece “Time Binds”, “temporal drag is a productive obstacle to progress, a usefully distorting pull backward, and a necessary pressure on the present tense”. Temporal drag is when a specific object representing a certain culture is revamped. This remaking is meant to conjure memories of the past, but not continuing or mocking it; it is remodeled for a different reason.

I agree with partially with Freeman’s concept of temporal drag. I agree with the notion of an object of the past being created into a new entity, however, I do feel like RuPaul was mocking it. I believe she was showing that the flag meant absolutely nothing and was just another piece of fabric. Drag queens are known for two actions: performing and “reading”. Reading, in drag queen terms, is a form of publicly making fun of someone. I believe RuPaul was definitely reading those individuals who embrace that flag by making it into a dress and performing for those at the ball. She was demonstrating how much she did not care about the meaning of the confederate flag and showing the lack of respect for it. The flag means the world to some people and she was showing them that the flag and it meaning actually meant nothing.

In carrying out this performative reading, I believe RuPaul is concurrently reaching for something else, something deeper. As Jose Munoz said in his novel “Cruising Utopia”, “Turning to the aesthetic in the case of queerness is nothing like an escape from the social realm, insofar as queer aesthetics map future social relations. Queerness is also a performative because it is not simply a being but a doing for and toward the future. Queerness is essentially about the rejection of a here and now and an insistence on potentiality or concrete possibility for another world.” In a way, I believe RuPaul was performing the acceptance of all people. By making that flag into an extravagant gown, she is rejecting white supremacy and the systems that are created by that supremacy which oppress groups of people.

I believe there are many reasons why RuPaul decided to wear that dress instead of verbalizing her opinion. However, the main reason could be that she did not want to spend time explaining how she felt to those who would questioned her.

Audre Lorde said it best, “Black and Third World people are expected to educate white people as to our humanity. Women are expected to educate men. Lesbians and gay men are expected to educate the heterosexual world. The oppressors maintain their position and evade their responsibility for their own actions. There is a constant drain of energy which might be better used in redefining ourselves and devising realistic scenarios for altering the present and constructing the future.” Why should those that are oppressed explain their plights and their feelings to the oppressors? In order to avoid that explanation, RuPaul decided to wear that gown instead of speaking her feelings. If the oppressors want to understand the oppressed, they need to do research of their own instead expecting the oppressed to explain everything.

Born This Way

Lady Gaga is an eccentric, well-known pop artist whose career has never had a dull moment. She is known for her wild antics such as wearing a meat dress to arriving at an awards show in an egg, which she stayed in for seventy-two hours before coming out to be reborn on stage. Since the beginning of her career in 2008 Lady Gaga has won five Grammy Awards and thirteen MTV music awards for her hit songs like ‘Just Dance,’ ‘Poker Face,’ ‘Born This Way,’ and ‘Bad Romance.’ In addition to her music, Lady Gaga pours her heart and soul into supporting the LGBTQ community and fighting for their equality. When she is not on tour or writing songs, she is speaking at pride events, conferences, and being there for her fans which she calls her “Monsters.” For example, she spoke at the National Equality March Rally, the Gay Pride Rally in New York City, in Maine to repeal “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” and many more across the United States.

Gaga has been and advocate and an icon for the LGBTQ community throughout her entire career, and she continues to use her fame and influence to fight for equality for all of the queer culture. Many of her songs like ‘Poker Face,’ ‘Born This Way,’ and ‘Hair’ refer to her sexuality and many of the struggles the LGBTQ community can relate to. The most controversial of these songs would be ‘Born This Way,’ because a lot of Gaga haters and anti-LGBTQ people were outraged by the lyrics. These naysayers believe that sexual orientation is a choice, which goes against the message the lyrics ‘Born this way’ stand for. Some people take issue with this song due to the reference to loving God, and they do not believe God approves of queer culture and therefore criticize her for putting them together. However, they do not speak for all religions, there are some religious communities that do not condemn queer culture. Although there were many objections to this song, Gaga also gained a lot of fans because the lyrics made a connection with people, and helped them realize it is okay to be different and to love yourself for who you are, because you were “born this way.”

“‘Born This Way’ is about being yourself, loving who you are, and being proud” – Lady Gaga

Some people argue that Lady Gaga is not truly queer, that instead it is an act she puts on to gain popularity and profit and therefore they do not think she should be an LGBTQ icon or advocate. However, Lady Gaga has come out identifying as a bisexual time and time again over the years. It is true she has only dated men, but she says she has always been attracted to females as well and has had many sexual relationships with women. Queer is an umbrella term for many different sexualities like gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning and many more. Lady Gaga is queer, and she supports all of the queer community. She is not discriminating against straight people, her point is that not everyone is the same. There are straight people and queer people and everyone deserves love and acceptance. She advocates for queer equality which relates to the conversation in class about gender neutral bathrooms. They are similar in theory as both concepts make provisions to include not exclude. For example, in our discussion about bathrooms, we talked about how it is not about removing separate sex bathrooms, it is about adding a third option for gender neutral people so that everyone’s needs are met.

“Lady Gaga Is Queer. Always Has Been, Always Will Be” – Queer Voices

Another Lady Gaga song that supports my argument that she is a good LGBTQ icon, is ‘Heavy Metal Lover.’ This song is about one of her past relationships where they shared an interest in leather and BDSM. Throughout the song there are sounds of whips slapping, and lyrics like “Whip me slap me, punk funk, New York clubbers, bump drunk.” This type of sexual behavior directly relates to the film “Cruising” because they both have scenes in the leather bars in New York City where gay men in leather explored their sexuality. Also, BDSM is an aspect of queer or abnormal sexuality, which connects to Gayle Rubin’s theory of sex hierarchy with the “Charmed Circle.” Rubin used this circle to describe good, normal, natural, and blessed sexualities in the inner circle known as the “Charmed Circle.” The outer circle describes the bad, abnormal, unnatural, and dammed sexualities known as the “Outer Limits.” Lady Gaga advocates for the outer limits and for acceptance of different sexual expressions.

“There’s nothing wrong with loving who you are” – Lady Gaga

Mentioning the New York gay leather bars exemplifies her knowledge of LGBTQ history showing she has done her research and is part of the queer community. ‘Heavy Metal Lover’ is also another source of evidence that Lady Gaga is bisexual because her lyrics are gender neutral, meaning she does not show a preference for one sex over the other. In addition to demonstrating her knowledge about LGBTQ history, Lady Gaga reiterates her strong passion for the LGBTQ community by using “Baby we were born this way” in the song ‘Heavy Metal Lover.’ This use of repetition of ‘born this way’ once again emphasizes and proves Lady Gaga is a good LGBTQ icon, and ‘Born This Way’ was not a fluke or a publicity stunt.

“No matter gay, straight, or bi, lesbian, transgender life, I’m on the right track baby, I was born to survive” – Lady Gaga

As many of our classmates can vouch for, it can be very challenging living as queer in a world where not everyone accepts you. During a time of confusion, loneliness, and self-hate, I believe having the support of a pop star like Lady Gaga can only be seen as a positive, and in fact can be the light at the end of the tunnel for many that are struggling. At the end of the day, we need more people who accept us like Lady Gaga.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The King of Carrot Flowers Part 1

I need to give a slight preface: Given this unit of sex, it seems we didn’t get pass the mental time line of the late 1990s, the most recent article is from 2000 by Kalifa. All references are more than a decade earlier than our current head space. I realize we alternatively have and have not progressed past the contentions of queer sex (and sex in general) brought up in this specific-date unit, but I want to focus on art generated from this particular period still in relation to its contemporaries. What I mean is, I want to archive Neutral Milk Hotel’s “King of Carrot Flowers Part 1” as if we were all still operating under 1990 assumptions, otherwise its significance fades. This band has been around since 1991 and one of the few from this time period of popular culture (to my knowledge) that acknowledges gay sexuality. Listening to it now in 2015 and it is still difficult to catch the address of ‘he’ instead of the traditional ‘she’ of the love song until the fifth hearing. A testament to even our assumptions now, so I’m curious to analyze it from its own perspective.

I am so focused to archive it in its own stratum because in class we discussed how homosexuality and violence were intrinsically linked in that time period. During the days spent on Cruising and Interior. Leather Bar, the issue of homo/erotic/physical/violence very much dominated the discourse. Homosexuality depicted as steeped in deviance was normative then, as compared to now where it is known that homosexuality is not its own deviant behavior. So when I look at the lyrics “And your mom would stick a fork right into daddy’s shoulder/ And dad would throw garbage all across the floor/ As we would lay and learn what each other’s bodies were for” I cannot get the image of gay love surrounded by pain and degradation out of my head. But that is the mind set the artists were working in. Yes, on the cusp of the millennial social revolution, but still mired within the political and societal constructions of the day. The speaker remembers his lover surrounded by violence and secrets, but he is not making a stand with this, he is solely commenting on the life lived that was comparative to so many other lives of that generation. The only stanza that describes the tenderness and yet still the ‘illicitness’ of the romance, “And this is the room one afternoon I knew I could love you/ and from above you how I sank into your soul/ into that secret place where no one dares to go” is followed right after, and ends the song with “And your mom would drink until she was no longer speaking/ and dad would dream of all the different ways to die/ each one a little more than he could dare to try.”

It is not addressed whether the “king of carrot flowers” parents are fighting and drinking over their sons gayness, or over personal disputes. But the two seem linked through the construction of the song.

The slight biblical reference in the first stanza “in holy rattlesnakes that fell around your feet” makes the listener consider the bible and its verse “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.” Abomination means ‘a thing that causes disgust or hatred,’ like a crime against mankind, such as a violent act, and once again homosexuality is bonded to violence.

The key reason this song should be tabled within its era is that reading this in 2015, it seems I am imbuing this song with meaning, I am making it mean this terrible thing. But back then, as shown through our very own class consensus, homosexuality was violence, it was deviance; and in mainstream media (a reflection of the majority opinion) it was a dark and unsettling thing.

This song reads more bitter than sweet, and its main significance lies in its unquestioning commentary about the idea of homosexuality. How then it was one being inherently surrounded, grown from, described by, abuse.

 

 

“Somewhere Over the Rainbow”: The gay anthem of the century

The Wizard of Oz tells the story of a young girl, Dorothy, who is whisked away from her drab, boring, black and white town to the elaborate and extravagant land of Oz. In her anthem, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, Dorothy sings about wanting more than the life she has and asks “If happy little bluebirds fly, beyond the rainbow why, oh, why can’t I?”

What was thought to be a song of a young girl dreaming for a bigger life became an anthem for an entire community looking for someone to guide their way out of the shadows. “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” became “an anthem of pain for homosexuals who perceived themselves as belonging to a despised minority.” (Brantley, 1994) Gay men everywhere began identifying with not only the song, but Dorothy herself, calling themselves “Friends of Dorothy.” Dorothy accepted people for being different hence her friendships with the Cowardly Lion, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Man. And following her character from the film, Judy in real life accepted people who were different. Judy Garland, the woman who played Dorothy, became an idol for the gay community. In the 1950’s and 1960’s, Judy Garland became the ultimate gay icon. She was relatable, she was human, and most of all she was camp. Camp, as defined by Babuscio, are the “elements in a person, situation, or activity that express, or are created by, a gay sensibility.” Camp was in every essence Garland. She was larger than life, over the top, and extravagant. Towards the end of her career, Judy began to fall apart, the drugs and alcohol become too much. But after all of that, her fans still loved her. In some way, her falling apart and displaying her struggles to the entire showed how human she was and that she knew how it felt to be the victim. To this day, Judy Garland is not an example of camp, Judy Garland is camp.

not-in-kansas

Judy Garland died on June 22, 1969, one week prior to the riots at Stonewall. Some state that there is a common factor between the two; that Garland’s death lead to high emotions and rage but no truth behind that facts have ever been proven. For those who believe this to be true, Garland’s death leading to Stonewall riots shows a critical turning point in the gay rights movement.

Stonewall

After Garland’s death, her legacy continued on through her song that started it all, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” The community continued identifying with the song and making their own renditions to keep it alive.

The song gives them power. Identifying with something bigger than themselves. After all, isn’t that what Judy was? She was bigger than life!

I think all of this, identifying with the song and “Friends of Judy” exemplifies a sense of world-making, a notion brought forth by Berlant & Warner (1998). To them, world-making is more than what is just evident in the public. It’s what you make of intimacies; it highlight that inventiveness of the queer world, as well as the fragility of it. World-making is building a community where you feel at home, and in an essence Judy gave that to the gay community. She showed that it’s okay to be human and makes mistakes. “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” continues to be an anthem for the gay community, and I believe it always will. It will always be a sense of hope. Judy will be a sense of hope.

judy-garland-dorothy

On a final side note, I believe that it is not a coincidence that the flag for the gay community happens to be a rainbow flag. Even Gilbert Baker, the creator of the LGBT flag, gives some credit to Judy. No matter what, Judy will always be “over the rainbow.” (corny I know, but I couldn’t not put it.)

Frank Ocean

frank-ocean-650px

Christopher Edwin Breaux, better known as Frank Ocean, is an americna singer, songwriter, and rapper. He’s an artist that seems to prefer no labels. In Frank Ocean’s coming out statement (http://frankocean.tumblr.com/image/26473798723 ) which read slightly more like a song at times, it appeared that he wasn’t really coming out, but acknowledging that he does not choose one sex or the other, in his own very poetic way. The statement, an image posted on Ocean’s tumblr account clarifys a situation that occurred when a journalist made comments on about several of his songs addressing a “male love object”. His announcement of the fact that he has once been in love with a man in an industry that is historically and currently deemed rather homophobic was significant and even more significant because he has not “come out” but rather just announced that he loved a man. He identifies with neither gay nor straight.

Instead of an announcement addressing his sexuality one way or another, Frank Ocean took to tumblr in a way in such that I would classify his work as art and specifically poetry in the way he articulates his thoughts. With his post, he breaks down normative thoughts about queer culture, and not only chooses to not classify himself as gay but not as straight either; in fact he does not classify himself as anything but simply defines himself as a loving human being who experienced a relationship with strong emotions.  While he did post this post out of a response to a journalist commenting on his “male love object”, he didn’t respond by simply saying he was gay; he responded by expressing a love he had shared in his life.

 

I think Frank Ocean’s coming out, if you will, or better said, expression of his sexuality, is important to gender, sex, history, and current queer culture, because it is so representative of what modern day sexuality should be like. Sexuality over time has been classified in very certain definite ways, and in today’s culture, not only should gender and sex not be assumed by someones appearance, but sexual preference should not have to be one way or another. Sexuality has evolved and through Frank Ocean’s statement, through the units of our class and discussion, if there is one thing that is clear, it’s that sexuality is and should be up for every individuals own interpretation and not classified as gay or straight only… if that is not what someone so desires.

 

“The Electric Lady” by Janelle Monae

The Electric Lady is Janelle Monae’s second album, and it was released in early fall of 2013.  This follows her first album, The ArchAndroid. which was released in 2010.  Janelle Monae’s single “Q.U.E.E.N.” was featured on The Electric Lady. The lyrics and music video, as well as the album as a whole, feature a number of queer topics such as same-sex attraction, resisting labels, questioning religion, and challenging gender roles.

The Electric Lady fits in a queer archive because Janelle Monae embraces difference, an idea often associated with the queer community in numerous ways, including her album’s concept, lyrics, and music videos.  She as an artist is unafraid to take risks and address potentially taboo topics in her work.  Additionally, Monae speaks to a number of possible identities, including queerness, blackness, and womanhood.  The story of The Electric Lady is queer in itself.  Both it and The ArchAndroid depict a dystopian community in which there is a totalitarian government, humans are forced to wear cages on their heads, and everyone looks down on androids. Monae portrays the character of  a revolutionary android who actively resists the regime that is in power.  The androids could be compared to various societal minorities, including those with which Monae identifies.

“Q.U.E.E.N.” is a song that does not shy away from questioning our societal roles. Janelle Monae is well-known for this, and while she has not officially confirmed or denied any rumors about her sexuality, she is a great representation of queer ideals, saying “I won’t allow myself to be a slave to my own interpretation of myself nor the interpretations that people may have of me.” “Q.U.E.E.N.” itself has many lyrics that can be connected to queer thought, such as “Am I a freak because I love watching Mary?,” “Hey sister am I good enough for your heaven?,” and “Categorize me/I defy every label.” Also, Monae sports a multitude of styles in the music video which include aspects of masculinity and femininity, challenging gender norms. I wanted to feature this song because I believe Monae is one of the more progressive artists of our time. Her music constantly questions the labels and differences our society seems so focused on.

The ideas expressed by Janelle Monae’s music seem to align specifically with those of Monique Wittig. Monae resists the general norms set up by society, which is reminiscent of Wittig’s sentiment that “these discourses of heterosexuality oppress us in the sense that they prevent us from speaking unless we speak in their terms…these discourses deny us every possibility of creating our own categories.” This is echoed in Monae’s lyric; “categorize me I defy every label.”  She does not believe in the labelling that is so prevalent in both our culture and that of her dystopian fantasy world.  Monae resists the norms in both her appearance and her creative output, and her work should be cemented in this queer archive as an example of an artist who is not afraid to take risks.