“David Bowie Made Me Gay: 100 Years of LGBT Music” by David Bullock— A History of LGBT Music

Bullock, David. “David Bowie Made Me Gay: 100 Years of LGBT Music”, Overlook Press, 2017.

A History of LGBT Music

Amos Lassen

LGBT musicians seem to have always shaped the development of music over the last century. They have provided a sexually progressive soundtrack in the background of the gay community’s struggle for acceptance. With the beginning of recording technology, LGBT messages were for the first time brought to the forefront of popular music. This is the first book to deal with the entire history of recorded music by and for the LGBT community and it shows how those records influenced the evolution of the music we have today.

We read about the lives of the people who made these records, we journey through the scarcely documented history of LGBT music-makers. Writer Darryl W. Bullock shows how gay, lesbian, and bisexual performers have influenced Jazz and Blues and continue to do so. Almost forgotten is the Pansy Craze during between the two World Wars (when many LGBT performers were feted by royalty and Hollywood alike) and we get a chronicle of the dark years after the depression when gay life was forced to go underground and we read of the re-emergence of LGBT performers in the post-Stonewall years with special attention to out-gay pop stars such as Elton John, Boy George, Freddie Mercury, and George Michael.

Bullock gives us a comprehensive history of LGBT music from the earliest records in the pre–jazz age to the 21st century and we see it as both a cultural and sociological aspect of the history that is impacted by diverse artists and music styles. He looks at their lives, their lyrics, and their struggles, both in society and within the music industry making this a fascinating read.

In reading about the LGBT community’s influence on music historically, we see how society moved between acceptance and persecution. We read of the contributions from many artists who have been forgotten and/or unappreciated and we see that not only were there LGBT recording artists since the beginning of recorded music and they did not hide their sexuality.

The history of LGBT music is the history of one hundred years of social change. “Music is sexy, and sex is better with the right music and LGBT people have been pushing the boundaries of music and sex for decades.” Music is also the soundtrack of our lives. In the prologue to “The Glass Menagerie”, Tennessee Williams wrote that the play is memory and memory always happens to music.

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