Happy pride! I hope the music is thumping, and you’re feeling cute and energized. The first Pride was a riot, led by trans women of color. Many brave queer ancestors brought us to where we are today.
Thanks for giving me an opportunity to share some of the music and artists who inspire my queerness, and remind me that being gay is my favorite thing about myself.
Year-round, my primary musical taste alternates quickly from campfire sing-alongs to seedy 70s disco by the likes of Sylvester and Boystown Gang, to torch songs and show tunes covered in punk rock cabaret (Kiki and Herb). I grew up in the shadow of Gen X, so 80s New Wave and 90s R&B were blasting whenever I had a babysitter, or later in life when I dated an older man.
A trio of singers who got me through the pandemics: Jackie Shane, a pioneering transgender R&B singer from Toronto, and jazz singer Cecile McLorin Salvant (MacCather Genius Award winner). I also stumbled across Norma Tanega, a songwriter and musician who had a five-year affair with Dusty Springfield and toured with the Grateful Dead. She was discovered playing songs as a camp counselor!
There’s a mix of my personal standbys - like Laura Nyro, Rufus Wainwright, Belle and Sebastian, and Stephen Merrit of the Magnetic Fields - and glorious protest poets, Nina Simone and Patti Smith. These voices have given me comfort for decades.
Most of these links are videos of live appearances or colorful music videos.
Daytime (Harsh realities and Idealist gazing)
Patti Smith, People Have the Power (amazing video at the Public Theater with “Choir, Choir, Choir”)
Norma Tanega, Jubilation (In the words of my friend Rosie, “I feel seen by this song.”)
Norma Tanega, Elephant, Angels, and Roses (This song is only on YouTube; it’s from an unreleased 1974 album. If you like Joni Mitchell, get ready to fall in love.)
Cruising the Club (Find me by the jukebox)
Boys Town Gang, Cruisin’ the Street (content warning: This is a 13-minute erotic audio journey)
The Afterparty (Let’s Play Dress up)
Kiki and Herb, Total Eclipse of the Heart (I include a couple of amazing tracks from their Carnegie Hall appearance on my Pride Spotify list.)
You can find Scotty's playlist on YouTube. Happy Pride!