When Private Dancer hit the charts, I drove everybody around me nuts.
While my parents constantly threatened to throw the goddamn album out the window if I continued to play it, I ignored their loving and gentle warnings and purchased another copy.
What my parents and all the other haters didn’t understand was that I was seeking freedom.
As a gay black kid trying to survive high school, Detroit in the 80’s and AIDS as a ubiquitous reminder of what happens to boys who “like” boys, I felt trapped, invisible and targeted.
I longed for freedom,fame and fortune, and killer legs.
In my adolescent mind, owning Turner-like gams would allow me to (benevolently) rule the world.
All gay men need their icons.
All gay men need a bold, courageous bellwether who is unafraid to take up space, demand attention and create a world and reality of their own.
As a persecuted minority, we all look toward those that demonstrate what can be achieved with perseverance,dogged determination and a healthy dose of self confidence.
High school friends and family members teased me about this never ending obsession with the old lady who was the Rock Goddess ; I hummed every note on Private Dancer and entertained myself recreating every video move and dramatic interview.
While I couldn’t rock a leather skirt or pants or heels or anything resembling leopard print, I lived for the denim jacket that reminded me that I could walk the tough streets of NYC and own them.
Having idols and those that light the way are important.
Twenty years later, there is still not much that can match my frenzied devotion and allegiance to the Honky Tonk Angel.
I have seen other singers attempt to blatantly and deliberately court myself and my gay brethren. At 47, I am the same age she was when she was at the height of her career and comeback.
My legs are good but not Tina good.
Nothing says I have made it despite incredible odds like a pair of mile long stems and an attitude to match.