Script for June 25, 2001, QMH:
Frank Luther & Century Quartet - the gay parade (30s)
Welcome to the special gay pride edition of Queer Music Heritage. I'm JD Doyle and I'm here on the 4th Monday of each month to bring you an hour devoted to our culture's music. This edition will be packed full of songs celebrating our lives.
Again, welcome to Queer Music Heritage. I couldn't resist starting this show with that song. It is obviously called "the gay parade" and was by Frank Luther & the Century Quartet, from the 1930's. It of course was not written for the gay & lesbian movement, but I appropriated it just the same. The next song you'll hear is the one I usually use to start off my show, kind of my theme song, but this time you'll get to hear the whole thing, without my voice-over. It's by Charlie Murphy and is called "gay spirit."
Charlie Murphy - gay spirit (1981)
That song is special to me. It was one of the first gay anthems I became aware of and I used it to start off my very first Queer Music Heritage show. It came from Murphy's 1981 album "Catch The Fire."
Since there will be so many obscurities heard on this show, I thought those of you on the internet would like to be able to see photos of the artists and recordings, and view the playlist. So I've set up a special web page just for this show. It's at www.queermusicheritage.com.
Next up is one of our best anthems, and the story behind it. On last month's show I featured an interview with Leah Zicari, about her new CD called "Hard Road." Well, I also asked her to tell us about her song "glory glory." It appeared on her 1990 cassette called "Wouldn't That Be Fun?" and is one of my favorites. Here's Leah telling us about that song.
"Glory Glory" was written, I think it was ah 1989, 1990, and the place of inspiration, and this is where I get much of my inspiration, was in the shower, and I was in the shower, and it was just like a lightning bolt that struck me. I don't know why I had "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" going through my head in the first place, but I did, and I just started, just started singing the words from a radical, queer point of view. And I just started singing, "Glory, glory, I'm a lesbian, glory, glory, I'm a gay man," and from there, I knew I had something, at that moment, so I rushed out of the shower. I'm not even sure I finished my shower, and got to the paper and the pen and began writing. This is too an important historical point of that information, especially for the younger listeners. It was the late 80s, or just getting into the 90s. We had just gone through eight years of Ronald Reagan, and were into the Bush administration, so we're well into twelve years of Republican ah leadership in the White House. We had also just come from we were at the peak, I think, of the AIDS crisis. We were still learning things about that. There was still a lot of backlash. There was still a lot of discrimination. You know, in the decade of the 90s, we really got to see an improvement in how gay people are perceived, and how gay people are treated, and how we are presented. And certainly nothing's perfect, but there was a big difference in the 90s and the 80s.
And so when
I wrote that song, that was the point of view that I was coming from,
that the gay community was coming from. We were still fighting for
basic decency and basic issues of rights. You know, there were no
"out" television shows and television stars and television
characters, or any of that. That kind of stuff was just beginning.
So that's the perspective that that song comes from, and people picked
up on it, because, and I can only take half the credit. I can only
take the credit for the lyrics, and the music itself, that's the type
of music that just, it just swells you with pride, whether you're
singing the gay version, or whether you're singing "The Battle
Hymn of the Republic." It's just a song that the music instills
you with pride, and I think that's part of what help make that song
the power song that it became. Cause since writing that song I know
that it's, it's still sung today at gay pride marches and parades,
and I know it's still used as theme songs for some gay radio shows,
and I know it's still played. And I know when I perform it at gay
pride events in my home town, people still want to hear that song.
And a friend of mine was few years back was in Iowa, I think, somewhere
out in the Midwest, and he was at a gay bar, and there was a drag
show. And one of the drag queens came out singing "Glory, Glory."
And it was at that moment that I knew I had arrived. When drag queens
start doing you, you're there.
Zicari - glory glory (1990)
I followed Leah Zicari with Suzanne Cimone, singing the title song from her 1995 CD called "Freedom Day." Also from 1995 is the next song, which has a very interesting title, "I Saw Jesus Down At Stonewall." It's by Jallen Rix, and is from his album "The Sacred And The Queer." He also released a video for the song, and from it I took a section where he describes it. It was recorded outdoors so you'll hear a little background noise.
The word "integrity" comes from the same root word as the word "integrate," so possible someone of integrity is someone who takes all the different aspects of their life and brings them together as a whole, and I wanted a song that would kind of reflect that integration in my life, and a friend and I would kind of joke around, how would we do that? how would we make it really practical to make people understand what that process has been like, or how diametric those ideas are in our society, and we kind of joked, oh, we ought to have Jesus go to a gay bar, yeah yeah yeah, and we kind of laughed about that. And yet that ended up being what the song was. And I used to always sing, "I saw Jesus at a gay bar" until someone came up to me and said, "oh I really like your music, but what's that song about Jesus down at K-Mart?" And so I decided to change the song. I think it's a little more poetic this way, and that's where the song came from.
Rix - I saw Jesus down at stonewall (1995)
Following Jallen Rix was Worm singing "Stonewall," from his 1995 CD "I Pledge." His name is Jimmy Worm but only uses his last name on his CD. And following Worm was the Berkeley Women's Music Collective, singing "gay and proud." It appeared first on their self-titled album in 1976 but is probably more famous for appearing on the various artists album "Lesbian Concentrate," released in 1977.
Mark Weigle QMH promo
Time now for another interview, but I didn't conduct this one. Some of you may know that in addition to Queer Music Heritage I'm involved with another radio show. Heard every week on "Lesbian & Gay Voices" is the gay news magazine This Way Out, and it's heard on probably 100 stations around the world, and on the internet. It contains a monthly segment called AudioFile. I'm one of the co-producers of AudioFile, along with Chris Wilson and Christopher David Trentham who live in Los Angeles. On it we feature three new CDs by gay & lesbian artists each month, accompanied by short interview clips by the artists. It's really a joy to be able to help spread the word about the new music of our culture. Chris Wilson did this interview with Mark Islam, who talks about his song "Get Used To It," from his album "The Recent Past," from 1998.
Chris Wilson: So, in this interview, one of things that I want to hear more about is about the song "Get Used To It," and what made you decide to put it on your first debut CD.
I needed to be out, right out of the gate. I decided that was one
of the overriding issues in my own life
I definitely felt a conflict
between who I was going to be open to and who I was going to keep
it from. And so I figured it was kind of like a pre-emptive strike.
You know, if I put it out and tell everybody, then I don't have to
worry about it. You know what I mean? That it's not something that's
going to come back to haunt me later, that I deliberately tried to
suppress something, and the purpose of art anyway is to tell the truth.
Islam - get used to it (1998)
After Mark Islam's wonderful song "get used to it" was another song I love, "no closet" by Jamie Anderson. It was from 1992 and appeared on her "Center of Balance" album.
On my April show I interviewed Tom Wilson Weinberg, one of our most prolific singer-songwriters. He wrote the songs for a various artists release called "Don't Mess With Mary," That project was released in 1994 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Stonewall, and he introduces a song from that album by Jan Tilley called "Bricks and Bottles."
Tilley - bricks and bottles (1994)
This show is full of my favorites, and I followed Jan Tilley with one of the gay groups I respect the most, the Flirtations. From their first album, just called "The Flirtations," was an inspiring song that just happened to be written by a straight man, folksinger Fred Small. His song "Everything Possible" has been recorded many times by a variety of artists and is also a favorite of gay choruses.
I've got one more song and a special interview to go with it. Before I talk about it I want to thank you all for tuning into the show, and I want to thank the other artists who gave me interviews that helped give some background to our music: Leah Zicari, Mark Islam, Jallen Rix and Tom Wilson Weinberg. If you have questions or comments about any of the music I've featured, including maybe where to track them down, I'd be glad to help, so please email me, and check out my website found, logically enough, at www.queermusicheritage.com. This is J.D. Doyle for Lesbian & Gay Voices, and I'll be back on the 4th Monday of next month.
Tonight's show ends with one of our newest anthems with a very fitting title, It's called "Pride" and is by Jon Gilbert Leavitt. It's an instant gay & lesbian history lesson, and I love this recording. You'll hear it after Jon tells us about his reason for writing it, the reaction it's gotten, and it's meaning. I'm proud to share with you the words and music of Jon Gilbert Leavitt.
I came up with the idea for "Pride" in the summer of 1999 when the media started hyping the coming new millennium and at the same time did countless retrospectives of 20th century history. When I realized that gay lesbian bisexual and transgender history was being overlooked or ignored, or just thought of as unworthy of mentioning, I realized that there was a void, and our voices in history had to be heard. I also realized when gay history is talked about Stonewall is the only familiar event that seems to come up, and there was a lot that happened before, and after 1969. I was surprised at the quick reaction I got to "Pride." When I sent out a bunch of promo CDs I heard from people within days, and even stumbled on it being played on the radio on two different occasions. That was exciting of course but as time went on, and I heard from people who were grateful that someone had a song like this out there, or that they remembered some incidences and it brought back memories, or even a couple of people who actually cried. Since the song isn't a tear-jerker or a ballad, I guess the lyrics, just listing names and events, can affect people in different ways. The other positive reaction is having it aired in other countries where English isn't spoken, and that surprised me cause it's so North American in content, and history and meaning. But it's gotten positive responses in places like the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Italy, and even Hong Kong.
The most important
meaning "Pride" has for me is that it can be used as a learning
tool to enlighten some and educate others. After that, I guess, "Pride"
is a tribute to the people in the past who gave up so much of themselves
and had the courage to stand up and fight in a world so different
than the world I grew up in. It's a lot easier for us today and I
can't imagine the adversity people like Magnus Herschfeld or Harry
Hay or Barbara Gittings or James Baldwin felt. They had great courage.
And part of me feels that celebrities coming out little by little
and with "Will and Grace" and "Queer As Folk"
on TV, we don't need to continue fighting because we're there. But
we're not and we have a long way to go for total equality and acceptance,
and that can only come with education and exposure, and of course
with votes. I want to thank JD Doyle, Queer Music Heritage and KPFT
90.1 for their support in giving me the opportunity to share "Pride."
Happy Pride, everybody.
Jon Gilbert Leavitt - pride (2000)