LESBIAN SUBTEXT IN SEVENTIES AND EIGHTIES MUSIC THE DIG DEEP YEARS

21 Feb

The trouble with growing up a lesbian in the seventies and eighties, was although the music was brilliant, non of it related to me in any way and my inner feelings or hidden feelings. 

We had songs about  boy meets girl, boy loses girl, girl loses boy even boy meets boy.  So where did I feature in all of this.  Music was my lifeblood, during those decades the music we listened to defined our identity, punk, mod, new romantic, whatever music you most enjoyed became the image and lifestyle that you were often judged by.

Then if music became our identity, where did that leave my true identity?  The hidden me that wanted to escape and proclaim, this is who I am, I am not ashamed and actually if you don’t like it then that’s okay because there will be plenty of other people who will like me and accept me.

I yearned for some kind of hint that the people I thought were cool, might just think my innermost feelings were cool and give voice to some of that experience.

The situation was thankfully different for gay men, in those days it was much cooler to be a gay man and the charts were reflecting this.  From the androgynous glam of Bowie and Bolan to the out and proud acts that subsequently found acclaim.  The Communards, Boy George, Marc Almond, The Pet Shop Boys, Dead or Alive to name but a few.  The gay boys were visual and singing about their life experience.

Of course we had Annie Lennox who used the ‘gender bending’ image to sell her music which was wonderful but I never felt for one moment she was singing about anything other than the ‘straight experience’, albeit with subversive packaging.

So I had to find the subtext in music and I became an expert at spotting a hidden meaning in a lyric or a song and bit by bit pieced together music that actually meant something to the inner me.

Let’s take a look at some of the songs that tweaked with me and I think were written with a lesbians subtext.  Remember these are open to interpretation but they for me rang a bell.

Alison Moyet, great singer always a gay icon and Ordinary Girl reeks of lesbian drama.

Of course today Joan Armatrading is out and proud but in those days of Clause 28 the only gay woman you ever saw was your scary gym teacher Joan was not openly out.  But her songs immediately struck me as being written for and about women and this was always my favourite.

Hazel O’ Connor similarly to Annie Lennox played with gender roles and ‘butched’ herself up on occasions.  But with Hazel, unlike Annie you just felt that she may have walked the walk as well as talked the talk.  One of my favourite songs by our ‘Haze’ was Runaway, and just sit back and listen, it’s packed with teenage and potentially lesbian angst.

This brings me to my secret teenage anthem, the song that when I first heard it I knew was written for me and I knew Tracy understood everything.  The anthem that secretly spoke to a million closet cases like me who wanted to just break out and escape, Tracy Chapman and the majestic Fast Car.

Thankfully now you don’t have to look too deeply to find lyrics that relate to the female gay experience singers are falling over themselves to announce they are gay or bisexual.  Jessie J, Katy Perry announcing she kissed a girl and she liked it, Pink a Lesbian icon, even Beyonce ponders if she were a boy.  It’s cool and it is no longer a taboo.  But in those dark days of not too long ago we had to dig deep but we unearthed some jewels. 

 

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7 Responses to “LESBIAN SUBTEXT IN SEVENTIES AND EIGHTIES MUSIC THE DIG DEEP YEARS”

  1. Sue Webster February 21, 2013 at 10:44 pm #

    Ange brilliant writing yet again!! You pulled my heartstrings with that one!! You are dead on!!! Why was it ok to be a gay guy back then but not a lesbian?!!! I love you for who you are 🙂 are you really a lesbian? 😉 *runs for cover 😉 love always angel xxxxxxxxx

    • angelacollings February 22, 2013 at 10:55 am #

      Awwwww Sue, thank you so much love you too sweetheart xxxxxx

      • Tony Wood February 22, 2013 at 11:04 am #

        The Hazel O’Connor song for me was Glass Houses on Sons & Lovers – make way for the queen, he’s got the most amazing wardrobe you’ve ever seen, so what if he bleaches his hair and dresses are what he likes to wear…

      • angelacollings February 22, 2013 at 12:02 pm #

        Great lyrics and I never picked up on them I was too busy looking for lesbian subtext. Love Hazel and still adore Breaking Glass x

  2. hockeyjules February 22, 2013 at 7:32 pm #

    I always loved will you by the fab hazel – love ur song choices

  3. Mockingbird Lane July 27, 2013 at 8:32 am #

    My brother suggested I might like this web site. He was entirely right.
    This publish truly made my day. You can not imagine just how much time I had spent for
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