This Fuckin’ Rock: Rock & Gay Culture

This Fuckin’ Rock:

Rock & Gay Culture

(This article is currently being translated)

Rock and "homo" sex

(Homely thoughts about rock music in response to the 20th LGBT Pride March in Argentina.)

Some of our friends have excellent skills to call us at a moment least fitting for it. Alfredo is one of them. Just as I was venturing into the world of plumbing, when I was about to fix that leaky, dirty pipe, he called me up: “Fede, wanna go with me to the march this Sunday?” I must say that, except for a call to get some substantial inheritance, there was nothing more important by then than completing that domestic task. “Well, let’s see… what if I call you back later? I’m kinda busy now.” My evident lack of interest generated a weird sincerity attack by him: “Right! I’ll be waiting. I’m aware it’s the same circus parade that some ‘cool’ TV programs talk about… but at least we’ll be hanging out for a while.” Hanging out for a while. I thought those who died in Stonewall would think this was so pointless, as I was finishing my work with the pair of pliers Enriqueta, the next-door neighbor who talks to her dogs, had lent me. Hanging out, just like going to a café, a night club or a recital.

“But make sure you call me back, pal. Don’t just go away as you always do whenever you don’t like a thing. There must be a rock band you like, you know.” In case I didn’t understand his gentle request, he was playing his last card by making a veiled complaint. Friends really know your weakest points, don’t they?! So with either rock or pop as options, I replied “Nope. I don’t think there’ll be rock bands. I bet pop’s what you’ll get.”

As I was zapping, battered by my humble epic as a plumber, and also trying to find a music video (because music channels no longer broadcast videos!), I thought for a while: a gay pride march, rockless and with lots of pop instead. Madonna and Lady Gaga, The Bee Gees and the disco culture, Miranda and Diego García… they all associate the gay world with pop, dance, brightness, superficiality, instantaneity, carefree attitudes, Rafaella Carrá’s happy ladies, and the sort of carefree hedonism that horrifies even the friends who most understand you despite not being like you. They’re all features hardly used to describe rock. This is where we are, right in the field of courage, commitment, counterculture, criticism… What a set of adjectives!

Then, all of a sudden, Italian Philosopher Gianni Vattimo made an appearance within my mind, insulting and yelling at me. He says the average gay guy is a sort of homosexual male, specifically a Californian male back from the 50’s, an individual defined by the realm of consumption. Homosexual or faggot, on the contrary, is a broader and more precise category defined as such in the realm of enjoyment. I’m sorry, Gianni, I quite agree with your theory, but just talking about and writing gay is much more comfortable. At this point, I’m tired of housework, of Alfredo’s reproach, and of what’s intriguing about the connection between rock and the gay world. Very well then, let’s write gay: it’s just three letters.

Getting back to rock, it seems it hardly associates with the gay world, but at the same time I think of Mick Jagger’s mouth, the rustic beauty of the first Elvis, Glam Metal’s stretched clothing, Bowie’s blatant (and premeditated) ambiguity. Even though it is a genre that would never have become what it is nowadays without endless gay contributions (Little Richards, Freddy Mercury, Rob Halford, Elton John, Marc Almond, Bob Mould, Michael Stipe, Morrissey, and so on and so forth) and further ambiguous icons (David Bowie, Lou Reed, Mick Jagger, Iggy Pop and many others), rock, generally speaking, hasn’t been able to generate lasting bonds with gay culture as pop or dance music have. After all, rock means arousal, opposition, and ambiguity, but at the same time it’s a “blokes-in-boats” thing, in which everyone is a full-fledged, regular guy that is just attractive and that’s it, no more!… Because they all end up engaging with cute female models or actresses, and all what a a poor old youth who got too exited can have is just illusions. Rock is such a hysterical and so self-conscious thing that it can hardly be swept away by anything. It arouses lots of feelings, is stimulating, and that’s it… get over it! Some say pop is shallow whereas rock talks about great truths! Well, the mistake lies right in agreeing with such idea, I think. They say history is written by the victors, guess who’s the victor in this case.

Up to this point I haven’t covered anything new. A couple of years ago Bod Mould, the leader of the mythical American hardcore punk trio Hüsker Dü, had already come to realize what rock actually was. As he came out, he intended to fight against the misimpression that being gay means being a camp pop dancer. To many of us (I think as I get up and look for a beer, also rehearsing in vain a Moonwalk step), dancing isn’t our cup of coffee. Others, conversely (and that’s not my case, either!), are really into composing rock songs with their gay genius (see, Gianni?, in the end of the day I did what you told me to). In any case, Mr Mould eventually opened in Washington a nightclub for gay youth, where you could hear just rock. That way, he avoided clichés like dancing with Madonna and Erasure, and, at the same time, his songs got a quite well-known personal attribute (indeed, a gay one) without double or hidden meanings. There you go, there are gay dudes that don’t wanna dance pop, but rock instead… Go and check it out with the Judas Priest’s guy!

Let’s be fair. Year by year, though it was born as a conservative white boy amid the wasp American kingdom of Sun Studio and a strong culture of machismo (is there anything as phallic as the guitar and its riffs?!), rock has been able to promote inner countercultural reflection: from the American homocore scene to the questioning over the normalization of post punk. Bands like The Gossip, Pansy Division, Hidden Cameras, Magnetic Fields, etc. (don’t forget regular gay guys), they all chronicle their own experiences and, as a happy result, their fans feel they’re sharing a common feeling. Morrissey, an expert on the field, once talked about it: “Reader meets author”.

Let’s face it: does anyone identifies with a 45-year-old rocker who, like teenagers, is worried about partying on the weekend and having fun?; what about a millionaire who talks about his existentialists worries caused by Dolce & Gabbana? Got any answer? It’s unfair, therefore, critizicing Ricky Martin because up until quite recently he sang to women.

Original Title: Este puto rock!: La relación del rock y la cultura gay

Originally Published by: Leo Aguirre on March 12, 2012

Translated by: Themonochromeman

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