My grandparents love and admiration ensured that I wouldn’t listen to those who tortured and tried to belittle me.
While this was a powerful tool in my survival arsenal, my love for pop culture and musical celebrities contributed to my ability to move beyond being harassed and move towards finding role models to emulate. Pop stars had a serious impact on my self esteem and kept my life full and exciting.
Private Dancer, Purple Rain and any and everything by the Eurthymics kept me riveted to the tv and radio for all of my high school years.
To me Tina Turner is and remains a goddess, Prince a God, and Annie Lennox is right up there with them both.
Being fifteen and constantly afraid of being found out, I looked for representatives that looked like me. When I found none, I widened my aesthetic and looked for people who were powerful, different, successful and flat out didn’t give a shit what people thought.
When I saw La Turner and realized here is a forty-five year old (which is ancient when you’re fifteen) black woman who is doing this rock and roll thing which I had always assumed was overwhelmingly white and male and being mega successful, I was awed.
When I found out that she was told by absolutely everyone to give up the dreams of being rock royalty because of her age and color and gender and she did it anyway, I was transfixed.
My lifelong obsession began.
Prince was male and talented and different (feminine in type of dress and presentation if you grew up in my neighborhood) and he didn’t give a shit. Prince allowed his talent and passion to do the talking and there was no argument that he was gifted. Even my parents adored him with my dad being the only parent I knew who could sing all of the words to “Purple Rain”.
All of the adults I knew were a bit thrown by the whole g-string, high-heeled boots, trench coat and oral sex references but I didn’t care.
Annie was no different. She was this very interesting unapologetic mixture of male and female energy and a big bowl of talent as well. What all of these incredible artists had in common was a belief in themselves and the willingness to stand alone and be “unusual” and unapologetic about it.
While I am not very moved by lady gaga’s music, I do understand her career as being an oasis for difference and a place where outsiders can feel less alone and isolated and more included and understood.