Lesson, Part 2:
1973 - 1985

Audio Version
Song List: Part 2 (59:19)
Sue Fink - Leaping Lesbians (1977)
Alix Dobkin - A Woman's Love (1973)
Teresa Trull - Woman-Loving Women (1977)
Meg Christian - Ode to a Gym Teacher (1974)
Cris Williamson - Sweet Woman (1975)
Holly Near - Imagine My Surprise (1978)
Berkeley Women's Music Collective -
     Gay and Proud (1976)
Lavender Blues - Lesbian Nation (1978)
Flying Lesbians - I'm a Lesbian,
     How About You? (1975)
Maxine Feldman - Amazon (1979)
David Bowie - Queen Bitch (1971)
Jobriath - I'maman (1974)
Mumps - Muscleboys (1978)
Rough Trade - High School Confidential (1981)
Tom Robinson Band - Glad to Be Gay (1978)
Charlie Murphy - Gay Spirit (1979)
Larry Paulette - What Makes a Man a Man (1977)
Jayne County - Are You Man Enough to Be
     a Woman (1978)
Tom Wilson Weinberg - My Leviticus (1979)
San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus -
     We Kiss in a Shadow (1981)
Village People - Y.M.C.A (1978)
Sylvester - You Make Me Feel Mighty Real (1979)
Alicia Bridges - I Love the Nightlife (1978)
David Sereda - Underage Blues (1981)
Judy Reagan - Hollywood Haircut (1983)
Christine Jorgensen - I Enjoy Being a Girl (1982)
La Cage Aux Folles - I Am What I Am (1983)
Romanovsky & Phillips - The Prince Charming
     Tango (1984)
Automatic Pilot - Safe Living in Dangerous
     Times (1984)
Age of Consent - History Rap (1982)
Tom Robinson - More Lives Than One (1984)
Bronski Beat - Smalltown Boy (1984)
Holly Near comments (2010)
Holly Near & Ronnie Gilbert -
     Singing For Our Lives (1983)

                Click Artist Name if website is available



Welcome to Part 2 of Queer Music History 101 and I'm JD Doyle. As I said at the introduction to Part 1,
I'm designing this show as sort of a study guide, and I hope it appeals to those LGBT Studies courses
now found at many universities around the country. The Audio Segments make up two-hour crash
course, using short song clips, but the online lesson version has links to hear complete songs, and also
much more in-depth information.




Sue Fink - Leaping Lesbians (1977)

Part 2 picks up the story in the early 70's and I opened with Sue Fink, and her song "Leaping Lesbians"
was from 1977. It was not the first song that I would classify as part of the Women's Music Movement,
but perhaps the best one to use as an ear-catching opener. This segment will include more songs of
this genre than any other featured, because, plain and simple, I consider the Women's Music Movement
as the most important musically for our community. The song comes from the Olivia Records compilation "Lesbian Concentrate," released in direct response to the bigotry campaign of Anita Bryant.

But I need to go back to the beginning, with Alix Dobkin. In 1973 she formed her own record label, called
Women's Wax Works, and released the first album entirely produced, engineered, financed, and performed
by lesbians. It was called "Lavender Jane Loves Women." From it is the song "A Woman's Love."

Alix Dobkin - A Woman's Love (1973)                       Click for Alix Dobkin Interview

Teresa Trull - Woman-Loving Women (1977)  

After you heard Alix Dobkin I jumped right into the catalog of Olivia Records, the, I think, most important record label in our music history. It came along not only when there was a real need, but it did it with exquisite talent. That song was called "Woman-Loving Women" and was from Teresa Trull's 1977 album "The Ways a Woman Can Be." But the label really started in 1974, with its two main early talents, Cris Williamson and Meg Christian. Meg's album "I Know You Know" came first and while she was more known for sensitive ballads, her song "Ode to a Gym Teacher" struck a real chord with her audiences and became a classic.

Meg Christian - Ode to a Gym Teacher (1974)


         Cris Williamson and Holly Near

Cris Williamson - Sweet Woman (1975)  
Holly Near - Imagine My Surprise (1978)  
Berkeley Women's Music Collective - Gay and Proud (1976)

After Meg Christian came Cris Williamson, and her
album "The Changer and the Changed" made
history, not only for the unprecedented huge
sales for a release on an independent label, but for
how it reached the listeners, with songs like
"Waterfall" and the one you heard, "Sweet Woman."
And that set finished with an artist who is still a
major contributor to our music, Holly Near. The
song "Imagine My Surprise" came from her 1978
album by that title, on her own label, Redwood Records, and the second voice you heard on it
was by Meg Christian.

Click for More Information on Cris Williamson

Click for Holly Near Interview

Olivia Records lasted until about 1993, when Olivia
morphed into a cruise line, but I think another important contribution of theirs was to release in 1977 the first various artists album of lesbian
music. It was called "Lesbian Concentrate" and
was kind of a reaction to the Anita Bryant bigotry
brigade of those times. On the album Olivia
included their own artists and also some from albums the label distributed, like one by the
Berkeley Women's Music Collective, and their
song "Gay and Proud."

Recommended Autobiography: "Fire in the Rain,
Singer in the Storm," by Holly Near, (1990)

More Info on Berkeley WMC

Note: A thorough and entertaining look at the Women's Music
culture can be found at the website for the publication
"Hot Wire," where every issue from 1984 - 1994 can be downloaded.

Lavender Blues, Flying Lesbians, and the Berkeley Women's Music Collective


Lavender Blues - Lesbian Nation (1978)  
Flying Lesbians - I'm a Lesbian, How About You? (1975)

I played those last two to remind ourselves that women's music in the mid-70s was not solely the product of American artists. "Lesbian Nation" was by the Lavender Blues, from 1978, and they were from Australia. That song was talking about the riff in the women's movement between straight women and lesbians, which did not only happen in the U.S. And in 1975 The Flying Lesbians released their album by that same name in Germany. Three of the ten tracks were in English, including sort of a recruiting song, "I'm a Lesbian, How About You?"

Click for Interview with Nikki Mortier of the Lavender Blues, part of my Australian Music Show

Click for More Information on The Flying Lesbians

The above song by the Lavender Blues was about the riff in the women's movement between straight women and lesbians; not only a U.S. issue. This was particularly relevant for NOW (National Organization for Women). Why was this an issue? And, see my Nov 2009 show which contains a short interview with Ivy Bottini, the first lesbian purged out of NOW, 1970.
Ivy Bottini is well-worth researching. In addition to doing comedy, Ivy Bottini is a long time activist, with work spanning five decades. For just a sampling, in 1966 she founded the first chapter of the National Organization for Woman and in 1969 she designed their logo. She founded the first AIDS organization in Los Angeles and has been active in many other community services.

Of course there are many, and I mean many more artists I could sample before we leave this segment on Women's Music, but there is one I can't leave out, and I already played her on Part 1 of the show. Maxine Feldman's historic 45 rpm record came out in 1972, and it took her until 1979 before she was able to release a full album. That album was called "Closet Sale" and on it was an anthem that is still sung every year at the Michigan Women's Music Festival. The song is "Amazon."

Maxine Feldman - Amazon (1979)  

Click to Hear Maxine Feldman Interview

In the early 70s there was a strong Woman's Music Movement, but there was not, and still hasn't been a Men's Music Movement. Why not, and what made the movement for the women so strong, and why was this so important?

The early 70s was also host to a glam rock period and its leader was David Bowie. He was caught up in theatrics and hype at the time and worked it marvelously, with his Ziggy Stardust character. So, maybe it was Ziggy who was gay, or at least bisexual, instead of Bowie. Whatever the case, he was making millions. To give him credit though, I've heard many gay artists say Bowie, when he was in his I-might-be-gay period, was a big influence on their music. From his "Hunky Dory" album from 1971, here's a bit of "Queen Bitch," to be
followed by a real gay glam rocker.


David Bowie - Queen Bitch (1971)  
Jobriath - I'maman (1974)  

QMH Show on Glam Rock, Nov 2003
Jobriath Tribute Section

In 1974 an artist just going by the name Jobriath burst onto the glam scene, amid huge publicity, including billboards of his half-naked form on buses in New York City. He tried hard, but the hype lost steam with his second album, and he died of AIDS in 1983, so we're left with a minor legend of what might have been. From his album just titled "Jobriath" was the song "I'maman."

Note: In 1972 Bowie produced Lou Reed's "Transformer" album, which yielded the hit song "Walk on the Wild Side." The song is a classic, and touched on topics not generally found in a Top 20 hit: drugs, transsexuality, male prostitutes and oral sex.

Jobriath's controversial LP cover from 1976


And also in the late 70s there was sort of a pop punk gay scene, and I'm going to represent that with The Mumps, with their main members being Lance Loud and Kristian Hoffman. Here's their song from 1978, "Muscleboys."

Mumps - Muscleboys (1978)  

Rough Trade - High School Confidential (1981)

Out of Canada was the band Rough Trade, led by the very out Carole Pope, singing here "High School Confidential." That song hit the Top 20 in Canada in 1981 and was one of the first lesbian-themed songs to make the charts in the world. And, getting this out of the way, in the early 80s Carole Pope was in a relationship with Dusty Springfield.

Of Additional Interest: (from Wikipedia) "'An American Family' is an American television documentary filmed in 1971 and first aired in the United States on PBS in early 1973. The show was twelve episodes long, and chronicled the experiences of a nuclear family, the Louds of Santa Barbara, California, during a period of time when parents Bill and Pat Loud separated and Pat filed for divorce." Their son Lance came out during the series, and he and best friend Kristian Hoffman (also in the TV show) later formed "The Mumps." Lance represented for much of American their first look at a "real" gay person on television.

And up next is one of the most iconic of gay anthems, Tom Robinson Band's "Glad To Be Gay," from 1978.
Tom Robinson Band - Glad to Be Gay (1978)   

Charlie Murphy - Gay Spirit (1979)  

From "Glad To Be Gay" I went to "Gay Spirit," a song I love by Charlie Murphy. For the first year or so I did
QMH I used to open my show with a bit of it. It's from the landmark various artists album "Walls to Roses,"
and I say landmark because it was the first compilation to feature straight and men together, and the album
just exuded feminism. This is as close to a "Men's Music Movement" as we got.

QMH Show on "Walls To Roses" LP, and Interview with Charlie Murphy

Larry Paulette - What Makes a Man a Man (1977)  

QMH Show featuring Larry Paulette

I mentioned cabaret in the first segment, but that was mostly singers doing the old standards, only keeping the pronouns to match their own. Oh his 1977 album Larry Paulette offered some more up to date material, including one adopted by some gay folks for its special meaning, a cover of the 60s song "Our Day Will Come." But I want you to hear his take on the Charles Aznavour standard "What Makes a Man a Man," and then musically I'm going in another direction, but asking a similar question.

Jayne County - Are You Man Enough to Be a Woman (1978)

Following Larry Paulette was the iconic rocker Jayne County, who before her sex change recorded in the 70's as Wayne County. From 1978 was her challenge "Are You Man Enough to Be a Woman."

QMH Interview with Jayne County

Recommended Autobiography: "Man Enough to Be a Woman," by Jayne County, (1995)



Tom Wilson Weinberg - My Leviticus (1979)  



Now next I've got a couple mellow songs from two different genres. In 1979 Tom Wilson Weinberg, then just known as To
m Wilson, released an LP called "Gay Name Game," packed full of topical songs. This album was actually the first openly gay music I ever heard, and I loved it. One of its quieter songs makes a nice statement to those who would use the Bible against us. It's called "My Leviticus."

QMH Interview with Tom Wilson Weinberg

More on TWW Musicals

While Tom's first releases were more in the cabaret vein, he is much more known for his musicals. "Ten Percent Revue" (1985) and "Get Used To It" (1993) have both had a number of productions across the country over the years. His song to achieve the most exposure was "Lesbian Seagull," being used in the movie "Beavis & Butthead Do America," as sung by Englebert Humperdink. Tom's book musical "Eleanor & Hick" (1997), about Eleanor Roosevelt's relationship with journalist Lorena Hickok, has also had several productions.



San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus -
     We Kiss in a Shadow (1981)  

And that was a little bit of the old show tune "We Kiss in a Shadow," from the 1951 musical "The King & I." It's one of the songs in which gay folks in the 50s & 60s saw special meaning. The San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus knew that, of course, and included it on their first LP, in 1981, which was the first album released by an openly gay or lesbian chorus.


The sort of adoption of a song intended for another
use or meaning was not the only example of songs
like this in our history. These have also been
described as conscripted songs. Can you name others?

Hint: one was sung by a famous blonde singer & actress in the 50s. It won an Oscar for Best Original Song. Frank Sinatra had a big hit in 1966 with another, and a 1965 Beatles song made a hit by another English group was one. To give some more modern examples, the Sister Sledge song "We Are Family," from 1979, has been widely used as a gay anthem, and "I'm Coming Out" gave Diana Ross a top ten hit in 1980, no doubt helped by gay & lesbian record buyers. Another song often thought of in this light is
"Our Day Will Come" (Ruby & the Romantics, 1963).

Secret Love, Strangers in the Night, You've Got to Hide Your Love Away


In the late 70s the disco craze really got started, and I think for a lot of gay people it represented a new freedom, and this was a genre we adopted for our own, and we found a community in the clubs playing this music. I sometimes get on my own soapbox that disco music really is not gay music, because about 95% of it is by straight artists, mostly women, and a small percent of the small percent by actual gay artists was lyrically gay. Still this music just has to be represented here, and I've picked three acts special to us. And, no, I'm not playing "It's Raining Men." I love that song, but it's just not a gay song because the Weather Girls were not gay. So, here are the Village People, where while the lead singer was straight, most of the rest were really singing like they meant it, at the "Y.M.C.A."

Village People - Y.M.C.A (1978)  
Sylvester - You Make Me Feel Mighty Real (1979) 
Alicia Bridges - I Love the Nightlife (1978)  

QMH Show on Gay Disco Music,
including Interview with Randy Jones

QMH Show with Alicia Bridges Interview

Sylvester, of course, was very openly gay, and "You Make Me Feel Mighty Real" was just one of his hits.
And it wasn't known much then, but Alicia Bridges is, and was then, lesbian, and her huge hit was
"I Love the Nightlife."

These next two songs are both fairly obscure, and I'd be surprised if even people who follow LGBT music would know them, but I like them for the messages they tell. First is a Canadian artist who released his first album in 1981, called "Chivalry Lives," and the song I'm sharing with you gives the perspective of what it is like to be a gay teenager. Here is David Sereda and "Underage Blues."

David Sereda - Underage Blues (1981)   Click for More Information
And the second song tells a different story. It's by Judy Reagan on her 1983 album "Old Friends," and I love that her song "Hollywood Haircut" pays tribute to the lesbians who walked before her. It was true in 1983 and now 27 years later of course it's even more true. Judy Reagan and "Hollywood Haircut."
Judy Reagan - Hollywood Haircut (1983)   QMH show featuring Judy Reagan's Music

Christine Jorgensen - I Enjoy Being a Girl (1982)

I had to set a time frame for these two shows to encompass, and I set mine to cover our musical history up though 1985, so I am pleased that this allows me to include the first well-known transsexual, Christine Jorgensen. Her famous sex-change was headline news all over the world in 1952, and afterwards she mainly became an entertainer. A very rare night club appearance of hers was recorded in 1982, though not released until 2006. Her act was more telling jokes and stories than singing but here you get to hear her introduce her theme song.   Recommended Autobiography: "A Personal Autobiography," by Christine Jorgensen, (1967)

QMH Interview with David Cunard, who produced this album   &   QMH Christine Jorgensen Tribute Section

La Cage Aux Folles - I Am What I Am (1983)   

From 1983 that was of course a bit of "I Am What I Am," from the musical "La Cage Aux Folles," which was really the first big hit musical to have gay themes as its central plot.      Click for More Information


Again, that was 1983, the same year that Romanovsky & Phillips began their careers. I did a special show on them in 2003 and here's how I introduced it: "They were one of the most prolific acts of gay & lesbian music. They gave us eight recordings and over one hundred songs that chronicle gay culture with their perfect balance of wit, sensitivity, humor, charm and a political passion all their own. They've given us the soundtrack of our lives." From their first full-length album "I Thought You'd Be Taller," here's "The Prince Charming Tango."

Romanovsky & Phillips - The Prince Charming Tango (1984)  

QMH Interview with Romanovsky & Phillips

MORE: I was glad my 1985 stopping point allowed me to include R&P, and "Prince Charming Tango" is a good beginning. But their later songs covered many more aspects of our social and political history that really bear reflection. Just to mention the ones that can be heard on my interview show with them, I will point out "Homophobia," "What Kind of Self-Respecting Faggot Am I?" "Living With AIDS" and "The Sodomy Song." Other noteworthy songs include "When Heterosexism Strikes," "Queers in the Closet," "No False Hope," "Love Is All It Takes" and really many, many more.




Automatic Pilot - Safe Living in Dangerous Times (1984)

Also from 1984 is one of the very earliest songs about AIDS. It's by the San Francisco group Automatic Pilot. It's called "Safe Living in Dangerous Times."

QMH Show featuring Automatic Pilot Music, with additional information

That song was recorded in 1984 but an album project went on hiatus when the member coordinating it died of AIDS, as have several other group members. The Automatic Pilot CD was, if you will, resurrected and called "Back from the Dead," and was finally released in 2005.


AIDS obviously affects everyone and artists from all over the spectrum have been moved to write about it. How did LGBT artists and songwriters deal with the AIDS crisis, and how did that change over time?

The place to start: QMH Show on Songs About AIDS


Age of Consent - History Rap (1982)

Did you know there was a rap song that fits this show? Actually it's by an act that was probably the very first to do lyrically gay rap songs. They were from Los Angeles and were called Age of Consent, and were active from 1981 to 1985. Their work was compiled on a 2004 CD called "Old School on the Down Low." I love that the song tells about the Stonewall Riot, though I had to edit a couple words in the song to make it more ready for radio. Here's Age of Consent and "History Rap."

QMH Show on Gay Hip Hop, Including an
Interview with John Callahan of Age of Consent



Call it Gay Rap, Homohop or Queerhop but it all boils down to music of a genre that's not at all been very open to LGBT artists. Why is there so much homophobia in this genre, and is this changing?


A subject I've not addressed yet is, well, what about the B in LGBT? When you are talking music, songs are few and far between that actually tackle the subject head on, without being vague or coy, or for novelty or shock value. If someone is singing to the same sex it is assumed they are gay or lesbian, and if they are not, well, they are assumed straight. So the B is barely represented. Yes, it was rumored in the 70's that David Bowie was bisexual, but that's something he denied

many years later. Keeping within my time period of before 1985 I could have picked some obvious songs by straight acts, like the song "AC - DC" by the band Sweet from 1975, or "I Like It Both Ways," by Supernaut, which reached #1 in Australia in 1976. Instead I'm glad I can share with you one that is from a truly honest first-person perspective. From 1984 is Tom Robinson and "More Lives Than One."

Tom Robinson -
More Lives Than One (1984)

QMH Interview with Tom Robinson

Shows on Bisexual Song Lyrics,
Feb 2004
and March 2004

Tom has one of the most comprehensive websites among all LGBT artists, with music, articles and
lots of history, at TomRobinson.Com

And this is a good time to go back and ask again, what is queer music, and what makes it different, and the same, from what straight artists write and sing about? It's the same because of course LGBT people write about relationships, falling in love, wanting to be in love, and losing love, although now I think the songs are being done in a more matter of a fact way, the other person just happens to be of the same sex.

How have gay lyrics evolved over the years? Well, in the early years there were a lot of songs about coming out, or political songs about acceptance, which led to Pride songs and songs about Stonewall. The AIDS song you just heard points out how strong topics can inspire our music. In the late 70's there were a lot of songs about Anita Bryant, and then about Harvey Milk and Dan White. As AIDS really hit in the mid 1980s and 90s, many, many songs have addressed all angles of that, such as the emotional areas of grief, anger, sympathy, and the political and social approaches.

The death of Matthew Shepard brought forth a number of songs, and I've accumulated over 50 of them on my site, and over 80 songs on same-sex marriage. There are also many songs about gays in the military, and gays and religion, and on and on. People write about what move them. And I do want to acknowledge that our straight allies do write gay songs, for example about many of the topic areas I've just mentioned.

This is JD Doyle and I'm winding down Part 2 of this very special show called Queer Music History 101. Remember there are a lot of resources on my website to accompany these two segments, and that's at QueerMusicHeritage.com. I picked 1985 as a stopping point, but of course the years since then have been very rich in the music produced, and there are numerous songs and artists I wish I could have included, both before and after that time frame, in so many genres.

Bronski Beat - Smalltown Boy (1984)

These last two songs are quite different from each other, but both of much significance. I know of more than one person who has told me that they were inspired to come out of the closet by this next song. Its message and that its music video was widely available to those waiting in the closet, gave it a wonderful impact. Jimmy Somerville was the vocalist, then as part of the band Bronski Beat, and 1984 was the year for "Smalltown Boy."

     On a personal note, I love this song so much I use its intro part as the ringtone on my cellphone.

That was Bronski Beat. And the last song of this show was inspired by our history. It was written by Holly Near, and sung here by she and Ronnie Gilbert, from the 1983 album "Lifeline." She called the song "Singing For Our Lives." Over the years I've interviewed many of the artists you heard in these two segments, and while I wasn't going to include artist quotes about the songs, I'm making an exception, and letting Holly Near introduce the song "Singing For Our Lives."

Holly Near introduction (2010)

Holly Near: I wrote "Singing for Our Lives" after Harvey Milk and Mayor Moscone were assassinated in San Francisco, and I can remember it being sung at many events but the thing that always moved me so was that people would put up their lighters, their candles, and there were people in the streets singing this song, the first verse is that "we are gay and lesbian people"…were saying those names about themselves for the first time.

They were being very brave in coming forward and trying to take the rage and the hurt of the city as a result of Harvey being killed, trying to take that anger and direct it toward the social change movement so that something can be built rather than something destroyed. So it's become kind of a peace anthem, a gay and lesbian anthem, and an anthem that allies and gay people can sing together. In fact oftentimes in the concerts when I start to sing that song people stand, and take hands, and sing it together as a real glue in their community, which is very moving to me.

Click for Holly Near Interview

Recommended Autobiography: "Fire in the Rain, Singer in the Storm," by Holly Near, (1990)


Holly Near & Ronnie Gilbert - Singing For Our Lives (1983)  

We are a gentle angry people
And we are singing, singing for our lives

We are a land of many colors
We are an anti-nuclear people
We are young and old together
We are gay and straight together
We are a gentle loving people

The death of Harvey Milk inspired Holly Near to write "Singing For Our Lives." It was written
shortly after the event, but not released on a recording until 1983. Still, it was one of the earliest songs about him, and most were written after 1990. Why did it take so many years for these songs
to evolve? My QMH show on "Harvey Milk Songs"
takes you through all the major songs, and
notice that there were a number of songs about Dan White, appearing almost immediately.
It appears anger is a faster song inspiration.


Gay Liberation Quire - Hark the Herald Fairies Shout / God Help Ye Merry Dykes and Poofs (1983)  

Bonus Song: Yes, Virginia, there are Queer Xmas Songs, which can be heard on all my December shows. These two, from 1983, are historic in that they are by a very early gay choir, in Australia, the Gay Liberation Quire. Their songs were political and fun, like these, "Hark the Herald Fairies Shout" and "God Help Ye Merry Dykes and Poofs."

Click for More Information     


Below, my first two Youtube Videos, Click images to View Them