Gay Icon: Who doesn’t want the title and who is fighting for it.

When Gay Icon is mentioned, who comes to mind?  What qualities do they possess?  Do they pick to be a gay icon?  Fight for the title?  Is it bestowed on them?  Is it a male or female?

 

Adam Lambert recently tweeted that he was a little fed up with tabloids, media, and the fans questioning “is he or isn’t he gay.”  Of course, the questions are not about him, even though they could have been during his American Idol contestant days (if the guy-liner wasn’t a giveaway).  So if not about him, whom is Lambert referring to?  Even the Taylors, Swift and Lautner, were swept up in the “is s/he gay” debate.  His tweets don’t come out and say a name, but recently, it seems like there are too many young singers to count that might be his target.  Two that appear to have the most vibrant bulls eyes on their backs are Harry Stiles and Nick Jonas.  Lambert's tweets are directed toward the “straight male pop stars [who] r pandering to gay audiences lately.”  After all, the title of Gay Icon in the music world is one that is a coveted honor and one that usually promotes longevity.  Look at Cher, Bette Midler, Madonna, Diana Ross etc.  Their careers have lasted longer than I have been alive.  But then again, is the title coveted by all?

 

Annie Lennox, one of my favorite singers for as long as I can remember being a music fan, has spoken to me through her individuality, power, and grace, and not because she is a gay icon.  I don’t think I knew she was a gay icon until the London Olympics.  Where was my head?  The fact that she did not feel the gay icon title was necessary or right did not surprise me.

 In a recent interview in Attitude, Lennox said of her status as a gay icon:

“Well it’s not something I set out to do. I mean these labels that are put upon you, like icon, gay icon, they’re sort of forced upon you … It’s certainly not offensive to me, I will take the compliment, but at the same time it’s reductive because I think ultimately we all need to be liberated from these labels that say whether we’re gay or we’re straight, or whatever … I would like to see a world – which is coming much more than it was 20 years ago – where it really doesn’t matter what your orientation is sexually. That’s the planet I live on, it makes no difference to me what a person’s sexual orientation is … There’s a funny evolution that will have to take place, from my perspective, in the so called ‘gay world’ where you don’t even need to say gay or straight anymore because it really doesn’t matter.” – Attitude

Is she too much of an idealist where labels don’t matter, don’t exist?  In her response, I do not feel she is rejecting the title, and she didn’t seek it out, but she expresses that she feels the title is not necessary and would be happier if the title existed for no one.

 

So while Annie Lennox is saying the title is not necessary, another seasoned performer loves having her gay fans and seems to be proud to be a gay icon.  Bette Midler has definitely earned her status.  It seems our community and her accepted each other and stuck with each other through a great deal.  New Now Next stated:

“As you may already know, Midler got her start as a vocalist performing in some of New York City’s seediest bathhouses during the ’70s. She stood with the gay community during the devastating AIDS epidemic in the early ’80s, a decades-long fight for civil rights and most recently, the battle for marriage equality.” – NewNowNext

 That sounds like a little more than flashing body parts around and being all sexy and questionable.  Bette says she has noticed that there is a change in the gay fan base. 

“Asked what she misses most about those days, the 68-year-old Divine Miss M was pretty specific in her latest interview with the Advocate. “[I miss] the extreme characters you used to see in the Village in the old days,” she said. “You just don’t see them anymore.” – NewNowNext

I remember her saying the same thing during an interview on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon.  Extreme characters.  I am not sure I knew how to take the comment and it seemed the audience didn’t either.  There was an odd silence and Fallon seemed to ponder her response.  No elaboration was provided on the televised interview but through the Advocate, she elaborated:

“I really do miss [the extreme characters] because there was a feeling I used to get that people were expressing themselves in the most elaborate of ways,” she added. “Now the [gay community] has kind of gone mainstream. It’s sort of ordinary now, and a little bit of the specialness has rubbed away … It used to be the love that dare not speak its name and now it’s the love that won’t shut the [f*&k] up…but seriously, the great thing about the gay revolution is that it has become ordinary and I’m happy to see how far it’s come and to see the community be more at peace with itself and, I want to say, more homogenized. Even being considered a gay icon — which was something that used to be whispered and bandied about — has become sort of mainstream, and that’s a good thing.” – NewNowNext

Who is better to comment on being a gay icon than Bette?  Has it become a mainstream role?  And if it is more mainstream, does that make it less important or influential of a role?  It seems that it took a while for Bette and Lennox and others to earn the icon status.  Is Lambert maybe thinking the title is becoming more banal, especially if it is being pursued by new young straight male pop stars? Or is Lambert hoping he is a gay icon, especially now with his position singing with Queen?

Back to Adam Lambert's tweets.  Who was he chatting about?  Was it Nick Jonas?  Other blogs have said yes, it was Jonas that Lambert was tweeting about, but with so many boys these days stirring up the gossip, it is hard to tell.  But what does Nick Jonas have to say about it?  We see Nick Jonas’s response in an interview with Chris Azzopardi from Pride Source (full interview here).

 Azzopardi: Why is it so important for you to reach out to the gays for your solo debut?

Jonas: When I was setting up this record and meeting with the team about it, I told them that I really wanted to make an effort to embrace that part of my audience. I've known for a long time that it is a great part of the audience, and I just never felt like we made all the effort we could to embrace them. It's been really fun and really incredible.

Azzopardi: When did you know the gay community was embracing you?

Jonas: I think it was a combination of things. I did theater prior to recording music, and so at a very young age I made a lot of really close gay friends. When I started recording music, and my brothers and I started recording and touring, we saw pretty quickly – this was back in 2005/2006 – that this was a big part of our audience. As the years went on, and as I went back into theater, I made the (gay community) a priority. It's about embracing all sides.

Azzopardi: What do you make of naysayers who say you're just using your body to bait the gay community?

Jonas:  Everyone's entitled to their own opinion. I think it's unfortunate that some people have to find a negative in every situation. Clearly my heart is in the right place, and more than anything, if they just looked at my life and my gay friends and the authentic nature of where my heart is, they'd just see that they're kind of ignorant. – Pride Source

Is Nick trying to court the gays?  Make up for lost time with us?  Taunt us with his abs and gay television characters?  I am not sure there is a clear answer.  I’m a little biased since I am gay, but in looking at Nick Jonas’s pictures and actions, I guess I forget that there are women out there looking at his pictures, too.  Maybe he’s taking these candid shots while grabbing his junk for all the ladies out there, followed up with a game of Name that Junk.  Then again, maybe it is the media that is fanning the fires.  Going back to Lambert’s comments … is the first tweet for the Nicks and Harrys out there and is the second tweet for the media?

What about the new young gay male pop stars?  Are they allowed to want to adorn the gay icon status?  Digital Spy had the following question for Sam Smith after his recent success and his coming out.

Lewis Corner:  It does feel the music has completely transcended the revelation…

 

Sam Smith:  "It's because I'm not trying to be a spokesperson. It sounds awful of me, but I'm really just trying to live my life and write music about it. That's what I do. I'm not trying to heal the world. From a young age I've always been like this, so it's been normal. My family and friends have made it feel normal and I'm not going to stop that now." – Digital Spy

Smith doesn’t want to be a spokesperson, but does he have a choice?  Do we not bestow the title on Sam Smith since he doesn’t want it?  Will he receive gay icon status like Lennox, not desiring it, but stuck with it?  Do we not allow the Nicks and the Harrys to gain the title of gay icon? Do we let it die off with the farewells of Cher, Bette, Diana, etc. 

Going back to something Bette said, extreme characters.  What if instead of extreme characters in her crowds, what if there are less extreme characters in the entertainment world?  Maybe we are hungry for that extreme character or performer that Cher, Bette, Ross, Elton John, Freddie Mercury use to be. 

When Gay Icon is mentioned, who comes to mind?  What qualities do they possess?  Do they pick to be a gay icon?  Fight for the title?  Is it bestowed on them?  Is it a male or female?

 

6 thoughts on “Gay Icon: Who doesn’t want the title and who is fighting for it.”

  1. I think all performers
    I think all performers attract and seek out the gays. Heard it once said, if you don’t have the gays, you haven’t made it. Bette is right though, some “uniqueness” has drifted away. As for Adam, other then AI, not sure what his long term longevity will be. Barely know a song of his, and certainly don’t wait enrapture for his releases. Nick Jonas has my attention though. Adam isn’t even an Icon yet. Legends are the Cher’s, Madonna’s and Bette’s. Which to me surpasses Icon status. When one Legend departs our world a new one gets their wings….

  2. To me an Icon Must pay the

    To me an Icon Must pay the price like a Better or Cher, Madonna, Beyonce, or even Britney We have tons of Gay Icons throughout the test of time, such as James Dean, Liberace, Rock Hudson, Judy Garland,  Charlie Chaplin  just to name a few. Only time will tell with Adam or Nick, Longevity and body of work will determine Icon Status.  Gay Icons are not always gay so, I don't see why Adam's complaining I suppose he might be a little JEALOUS… Nick fan base audience has been teen girls and gay teens and they grow up to become adults so, all he is doing is addressing his core fan base and as he said they had been neglected so, now (or Some of) his handlers are probably in my opinion Gay and said why not work it . He's 22 and great role model to have on our side for our future generations. Young kids look up to him and what better person to speak out and say Gay is Okay.  

  3. LOL nick jonas and the

    LOL nick jonas and the american idol guy aren't gay icons… far from it. The only one that is is Ms. Annie Lennox!

  4. Most interesting thing I got

    Most interesting thing I got out of this was that Bette Midler is 68 years old! Damn, she does good for her age. 

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