David Bowie Made Me Gay: 100 Years of LGBT Music

David Bowie Made Me Gay: 100 Years of LGBT Music

LGBT musicians have shaped the development of music over the last century, with a sexually progressive soundtrack in the background of the gay community’s struggle for acceptance. With the advent of recording technology, LGBT messages were for the first time brought to the forefront of popular music. David Bowie Made Me Gay is the first book to cover the breadth of history...

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Title:David Bowie Made Me Gay: 100 Years of LGBT Music
Author:Darryl W. Bullock
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David Bowie Made Me Gay: 100 Years of LGBT Music Reviews

  • Nicole Valentine

    Lucky enough to have this ARC handed to me in advance and I have to say it's the most comprehensive history of how the LGBT community has shaped the development of music over the last century. I came to this as a 70's and 80's music aficionado with a deep and abiding love for Bowie, and left with a huge breadth of knowledge and appreciation for so much more. Thoroughly enjoyed the chapters on the New York and London punk scene and was fascinated to learn of the late sixties/early 70's first brea

    Lucky enough to have this ARC handed to me in advance and I have to say it's the most comprehensive history of how the LGBT community has shaped the development of music over the last century. I came to this as a 70's and 80's music aficionado with a deep and abiding love for Bowie, and left with a huge breadth of knowledge and appreciation for so much more. Thoroughly enjoyed the chapters on the New York and London punk scene and was fascinated to learn of the late sixties/early 70's first breakout use of the Moog and how the LGBT community was involved. It's an absolute necessary purchase for any music lover.

  • Christopher Jones

    What an incredible read , informative in an interesting and upBEAT way, total page turning paradise........

  • Joshua

    There is a pronounced lack of David Bowie in this book, but that doesn't lessen the quality or importance of this work. Darryl W. Bullock captured me with the title, and while I was hoping to read a bit about the Thin White Duke, the man who is quickly becoming my philosophical, intellectual, and sexual icon, the book was actually a fascinating history about Queer musicians starting with the rise of Jazz in the early 1900s and ending in our current period.

    There are a great many writers that have

    There is a pronounced lack of David Bowie in this book, but that doesn't lessen the quality or importance of this work. Darryl W. Bullock captured me with the title, and while I was hoping to read a bit about the Thin White Duke, the man who is quickly becoming my philosophical, intellectual, and sexual icon, the book was actually a fascinating history about Queer musicians starting with the rise of Jazz in the early 1900s and ending in our current period.

    There are a great many writers that have made a living writing about the importance and relevance of "representation" in the media, and so I want to avoid in this review anything that sounds like a soundbite. David Bowie Made Me Gay is relevant because it writes queer people into the culture by simply observing that we were here, that we have always been here, and that our sexuality is something that has been relevant to our success as artists. Bullock observes numerous instances of artists who were shoved back into the closet because of the repressive cultures they lived in, and the story of Gladys Bently is enough to bring the reader to tears. But what's most important about this book is that Bullock does not attempt to editorialize or dramatize tragedy or success. Bullock's approach in this book is that of a record keeper.

    David Bowie Made Me Gay finds queer personalities through the history of music simply to observe that they were there and that many of the most important, and sometimes even just the minor characters in the long history of the music industries and genres were queer. This goes a long way then to helping young queer readers who may be interested in finding queer icons in music. It helps readers, lovers of music period, who might happen to be queer to appreciate that they may not be so different sexually than an artist they love.

    David Bowie didn't make me gay personally, but as I'm reading more about the man's life, and listening to more of his music, I see how important it is to have such an icon, such a human being in your life as an example. There are plenty of examples of wonderful, tragic, contemptuous, and of course, gay people in this book and it's worth the reader's time to read through this wonderful chronicle.

    The queer community's received another in a long line of great books that reminds the reader of one important fact that so many people would prefer not to here: we've always been here.

  • Kevin

    Darryl W. Bullock's "David Bowie Made Me Gay" is a comprehensive, illuminating and entertaining celebration of LGBT singers, composers, producers and musicians who created music over the last century. Bullock enhances these mini-biographies by placing them in context with historic advancements and setbacks in the quest for gay civil rights.

    "Written histories have tended to straightwash the stories of the female pioneers of the blues," writes Bullock before correcting accounts of Bessie Smith, Ge

    Darryl W. Bullock's "David Bowie Made Me Gay" is a comprehensive, illuminating and entertaining celebration of LGBT singers, composers, producers and musicians who created music over the last century. Bullock enhances these mini-biographies by placing them in context with historic advancements and setbacks in the quest for gay civil rights.

    "Written histories have tended to straightwash the stories of the female pioneers of the blues," writes Bullock before correcting accounts of Bessie Smith, Gertrude 'Ma' Rainey and Billie Holiday in the 1920s and '30s. Bullock then profiles Noël Coward, Marlene Dietrich and Cole Porter. (Porter's 1941 song "Farming" is the first pop song to use the word "gay" to mean "homosexual.") The 1950s brings scandal sheets, arrests and lawsuits (amazingly, Liberace sued two newspapers who hinted he was gay and he won money from both publications).

    Things loosen up in the 1960s when Little Richard, Lesley Gore and Dusty Springfield came out to the press. And while the Who's Pete Townshend and the Kinks' Dave Davies didn't come out until the '90s, they were both writing popular queer-themed songs in the 1960s. Bullock also covers multiple musicians in chapters on specific genres like women's music (Janis Ian, Joan Armatrading, Holly Near), country (Ty Herndon, Chely Wright and Drake Jensen) and disco (Village People, Sylvester, Divine, Jacques Morali). Bullock's sensational reference guide uncovers a lot of fascinating and unfamiliar queer history and shares it in an entertaining and breezy style.

    This comprehensive, briskly paced and essential reference guide uncovers a century's worth of hidden history on LGBT music-makers.

  • Vari Robinson

    Provided very interesting history, and I learned a lot. I also liked that there was more international focus instead of just US/UK. However, I did feel like it focused too much on cis men and sometimes provided too many background details (details of someone’s Mom/Dad and their lives) which felt unnecessary.

  • Véronique

    This quite ambitious book would have greatly benefited from a better editing: it tries to cover too much ground and sometimes falls into namedropping; some transitions are shaky; some passages have weird shifts in tone (formal/neutral to familiar/subjective). That being said, i learned a lot and i really enjoyed the chapters that were more focused on 1-2 artists and dealt in depth with them.

  • John

    The first part of this book was really interesting and informative. I never knew there were so many GLBT artists from the 1920's-50's that had such influence on music and the struggles they went through. I enjoyed that part the best. The second half, mostly the 70's to today, was kind of a letdown. Most of the information was based on magazine articles or previously published source material, even though a large number of the people discussed are still alive today. I don't know if they just coul

    The first part of this book was really interesting and informative. I never knew there were so many GLBT artists from the 1920's-50's that had such influence on music and the struggles they went through. I enjoyed that part the best. The second half, mostly the 70's to today, was kind of a letdown. Most of the information was based on magazine articles or previously published source material, even though a large number of the people discussed are still alive today. I don't know if they just couldn't get interviews or if they didn't try, but I think they missed a big opportunity. And what they did have just wasn't new information, at least for me. Additionally, it was very focused on men, more so that I had hoped. All in all, it left me wanting.

  • Mark Schlatter

    Overall, I found this a very disappointing read. I think the idea of the book (tracing the influences and performers of LBGT music) is great, and the introduction --- with a big focus on Bowie's importance --- makes an excellent case for the exploration. I learned a lot, including the facts that Johnny Mathis and Leslie Gore were gay, the existence of Camp Records and gay novelty LPs, the support of African American communities in the 1920's for LBGT performers, and the differences between the W

    Overall, I found this a very disappointing read. I think the idea of the book (tracing the influences and performers of LBGT music) is great, and the introduction --- with a big focus on Bowie's importance --- makes an excellent case for the exploration. I learned a lot, including the facts that Johnny Mathis and Leslie Gore were gay, the existence of Camp Records and gay novelty LPs, the support of African American communities in the 1920's for LBGT performers, and the differences between the Women's Music movement in the US (folk-based) and the UK (punk-based). There's a ton of information, much of it beyond what this straight reader knew about LBGT music.

    However, the organization is often horrible. The first chapters, which focus on just one or two performers, have a better focus, but later chapters suffer from information overload and no narrative structure to give the reader any guidance. A common practice by Bullock is to spend one to two paragraphs on a subject, talk about the performer's contributions, say where they are now, and then repeat with very little transition. (You can even find some sentences which appear to change focus midway through.) There's very little clear connective tissue and an overabundance of personalities. The result is often confusing and feels shallow. I'm sure there are some fascinating stories and thematic explorations that can be written about LGBT music, but this wasn't it for me.

  • Trent

    A breezy survey of LGBT musicians from the late nineteenth century through to the present day. Because some of the information was new to me and interesting, I kept reading. But it was a slog, since there is little in the way of anaylsis or perspective or unifying themes--at times it's like reading a laundry list (this person was a queer musician; that person was, here's another who was), with all the superficiality of a (very long) People magazine profile.

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