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Threesome: retro gay anthems

February 27, 2009

Listen up, possums: LGBT themes in popular music did not start with YMCA and end with Katy Perry kissing a girl and liking it. So in honor of Sean Penn’s Oscar win for his portrayal of Harvey Milk, this “Commie, homo-loving writer proudly presents three retro gay gems from the vault.

First up is Elton Motello‘s 1977 punk treasure “Jet Boy Jet Girl,” written from the point of view of a gay teenager who is essentially the flip side of Katy Perry’s ‘experiment’ – after a brief fling with him, his lover returns to girls. I suspect it doesn’t get a lot of airplay in the United States, since in 1989, Florida station WIOD was fined $10,000 by the FCC for playing it. But it was in regular rotation in the UK and Canada, and has been covered by bands including The Damned.

Next up is a dance hit by John Water’s favorite actor (or -ress), Divine: “You Think You’re A Man.” Released in 1984, it reached #16 on the UK charts and even landed Divine a spot on Top of the Pops. However, it never charted in the US. (seeing a pattern here?)

Finally, Canada’s Rough Trade were a new-wave band who were, as their name implies, unabashedly sexual. Their song “High School Confidential,” made it into the Canadian Top 20, one of the first explicitly lesbian-themed songs to be a Top 40 hit anywhere in the world. And, oh yeah, this was 1981.

MP3: Elton Motello – Jet Boy Jet Girl

MP3: Divine – You Think You’re A Man

MP3: Rough Trade – High School Confidential

2 comments

  1. The Kinks – Lola


  2. Hmmm….Well, it wasn’t meant to be an exhaustive list, by any means (Pete Shelley’s “Homosapien” would have been next on the list, if it was more than a trio). But I don’t think I’d have included “Lola” in any case. Written as it is from the point of view of a confused (questionably) straight boy, it’s far closer to “I Kissed a Girl” than the three songs in the post. If I was going to include something in that vein, Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side” comes to mind as a much better candidate, and I’m sure there are others.



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