“Loved your column in Attitude,” wrote my Sky News journalist friend. “Brings some ballast to the magazine.” Er thanks, I thought. I’m not sure he’ll agree once he gets to the end of this one though.
“Why is it that gay men have such a shit taste in music?” queried another friend to me the other day. Somewhat bridling, I asked what on earth he meant. “Well, it’s all Kylie, musicals and Eurovision with you lot,” isn’t it, he explained helpfully.
Well, he’s got a point, hasn’t he? I don’t mind admitting that my own musical tastes play up to that stereotype quite nicely. Abba, Roxette, Sparks , Pet Shop Boys – well, you get the picture.
A couple of years ago I attended a very rich friend’s 60th birthday party where Kylie was the main cabaret act. We were all strutting our stuff at the front of the stage to ‘Better the Devil You Know’ when someone whispered in my ear: “Do you realise we’re only six feet away from Kylie’s bum?” I turned round to find David Cameron giggling. Anyway, I digress.
I’m sure there are some gay heavy metal fans out there, but I have to say I have never met one. In fact, I’m not sure I’d want to. The nearest I get is the Meat Loaf anthem “I’ll do anything for Love, but I won’t do THAT!” And so say all of us. Whatever THAT is. I think we can guess. But seeing as this magazine is moving inexorably upmarket, I’d better not. I’d hate to be canned after only three columns.
I’ve been to the Eurovision Song Contest twice. Just writing that, it feels like it should be written into my official gay passport, as proof that my musical taste is somewhat dodgy. And yes, I did go out of choice. Back in 1994 I shared a flat with an ‘ex’, who was a complete Eurovision obsessive. On the first night we met, we were in the midst of passion when somehow we got side-tracked onto a discussion about the relative merits of Celine Dion and Vicky Leandros (Luxemburg 1972, since you ask). I guess you had to be there, although frankly I am rather grateful you weren’t.
I ended up attending a Eurovision convention in Germany (95% of the people there were gay, you might not be surprised to know) before attending the actual contest at The Point in Dublin in May 1994. It was the year of Riverdance – about the campest form of entertainment ever invented.
Four years later Tory MP Graham Brady rang me up and explained he’d been invited to go to the Eurovision Song Contest in Birmingham by the BBC on the basis that at 27, he was the youngest MP in the House of Commons. Being a thoroughly nice bloke he thought I would enjoy the experience more than he would. He was right. I ended up sat next to newly elected Labour MP Stephen Twigg [you know, the one who beat Portillo]. It proved to be quite an experience, especially when the Israeli contestant, a stunning looking transsexual called Dana International took to the stage. Twiggy was up on his feet, boogying and clapping, momentarily forgetting that he was an honourable member. When I told him the next day I had met Dana International after the contest he could quite happily have killed me. I got the ‘bitch stare’. When I told Graham Brady about the evening I could tell that he was rather relieved he hadn’t attended himself.
But let’s not pretend that it’s only gay people who like Eurovision or music that’s considered camp. Follow the twitter feed of right wing Tory MP Nick de Bois and you might deduce that from his love of all things Eurovision, he is a confirmed Friend of Dorothy. Not a bit of it, as his wife will happily confirm.
The truth is that there is no such thing as ‘gay’ music. If Kylie, Lady Gaga, Erasure or the Pet Shop Boys only appealed to gay people, they wouldn’t sell the quantities of records or downloads that they do. It is true to say that some bands or singers have a disproportionately large gay following, but if you think about it, the same songs get people on a dancefloor whether they happen to be in a straight or a gay nightclub. Music doesn’t discriminate in its appeal. It just gives the appearance of doing so.
And we should acknowledge that it is entirely possible to be gay and not be into so-called trashy pop. It’s possible, but unusual. I have never yet met a gay fan of Led Zeppelin, but I’m sure there’s one out there somewhere. There always is.