By Marten Weber
(editor's note: some links NSFW)
... but a new generation of vocal artists has more courage.
As an out gay writer, I find that one of the most rewarding
developments of the last decade is the emergence of proud and out
artists around the world and the amazing indie art scene they have
created. No longer do greedy or timid publishers stymie individual
artistic talent. Authors always had it easier, because we are ultimately
recluses who do not seek the limelight. Having your book rubbished by a
conservative reviewer is easier to stomach than attacks on a person,
unless, of course, your name is Rushdie.
To me, the most intriguing group of artists to come out are pop
singers. Songs never have to be explicitly gay; singers can always hide
behind an adored "you." Why bother with all the politics, then, and risk
alienating your bigoted fans (still the majority, unfortunately)?
I am not talking about the old guard here. Elton John, George
Michael, and boyband members Mark Feehily and Lance Bass came out after
they had raked in millions. That doesn't count! In fact, I dislike
people who, 10 years after they made it big, suddenly decide they are
rich enough to come out and reveal their sexuality -- typically in a
publicity stunt intended to kick-start their fading careers. But fine, I
won't argue. It's a personal journey, and you are ready when you are
ready, I guess.
Ricky Martin may have lost half his market value when he came out,
but he is an inspiration to countless singers around the world. Out gay
singers are far more popular than you would imagine. Here are a few you
may not have heard of, and some who are definitely worth listening to.
First, an honorary mention: Adam Lambert apparently is the first
openly gay singer to have become famous through the excruciatingly tacky
selection process of American Idol (though he wasn't technically out on the show). And he is still going strong.
More in my line is Frank Ocean. He came out before he released his first album. That's the way to go.
The adorable Mika went through the usual charade of calling himself bisexual before saying he identifies as gay. Well, most of us have been there. His music has a Middle Eastern touch.
If you like your men hairy and their voices dark, check out Barbzul. The music is... well, I'll stick to my Schubert for now. But it's nice to see the bear community handling a microphone well
I totally approve of this message by Matt Zarley
about honesty. I don't think America is ready for a gay president, but
who knows? I also approve of underwater blowjobs, especially by hunks
like the one in the video.
But enough about chest hair. There are up-and-coming twink singers, too. Being gay seems to be the latest Jewish fashion craze. Alex Shane Krilov might not be your cup of tea, but seriously, who can say no to Harel Skaat? His Hebrew rendition of "Ne me quitte pas" (on the site) is marvelous. It reminds me of a young Charles Aznavour.
Israel has also given us the laryngeally talented Yehonathan,
no less appealing in voice and timbre, but with a little more facial
and, I assume, chest hair. His songs are lyrical and very inspiring.
I discovered that there are porn stars who were singers before they
whipped out their equipment in front of the camera. German twink Carsten
Andersson thinks he can make it as a pop star even after all that
lustful groaning. I have my doubts, but here he is in all his glory.
Some are more subdued in their sexuality, but no less attractive. And
they are keenly aware of the role the male body plays in the promotion
of their art. Angelo has no problem with sexual objectification. He told
me in an interview, "Any artist who tells you that they are appreciated
solely for their artistic merit is lying. Everyone has something that
they lean on that helps build an identifying mark of separation. Having
unique or inimitable talent is one thing, but this is a business, and
like any other business, both the artist and the art become a
commodity." Here is his video statement.
We spoke about sexuality and the sex object in pop music. "When you
are trying to communicate urban mythology by way of NYC street pop, your
shirt comes off, the tattoos are out, and you are flexing muscles you
never even knew you had!" he told me. "I had the confidence to make a
record that I believed in and music that I love. If people discount that
effort because I have my shirt off in a photograph, they are welcome to
download someone else." Being gay and gorgeous as a career builder?
What do you think? I'll be talking to him some more in the next weeks.
I have left out quite a few gay singers (and all the lesbians, I am
afraid), and I sincerely hope that there are many more you can point out
to me. There is something very rewarding in supporting people outside
the deafeningly boring mainstream. Anybody can be a little monster and
scream "I was born this way," but what ultimately makes the world a
better place are not the sound effects and flashy costumes, or millions
of dollars lining the pockets of studio executives, but our support for
young and struggling talent, for individuals who go their own way and
sing with pride and honesty about their dreams and motivations. I am not
urging you to only support out gay singers, but try listening to
creative people who are not handed to you on the platter of deadbeat
And now I'm going back to cuddling Harel Skaat... only aurally, of course.
This post originally appeared at Huffington Post Gay Voices and is reprinted with permission from the author. Marten Weber recently released his sixth novel BODENSEE. His official website is www.martenweber.com.