Evolution is complicatedAn intentionally vague term used to describe one’s status when it lies somewhere between single and not, or to describe a relationship that isn’t necessarily monogamous or doesn’t necessarily involve just 2 partners.. None of us are born politically correct, and sometimes our path to enlightenment is messy.
The death of disco queenA gay man. Can be used interchangeably as a term of endearment or as a derogatory term, depending on context. Often used in conjunction with a modifier, which can range from merely descriptive (LeatherLeather culture is found in all lifestyles, but among gay men it refers to practices and styles of dress organized around hedonism and eroticism ("kink"). One way this culture consciously distinguishes itself from mainstream sexual cultures is through a specifically homoerotic aesthetic that draws from post-World War II biker culture as well as military and police uniform. Leathermen art, such as Tom of Finland, represents the hypermasculine ideal. Literature like The Leatherman’s Handbook speaks to the culture and the code. The International Mister Leather organization speaks to the community. Queen, Draq Queen, Theater Queen) to derisive (bitchy queen, fussy queen, messy queen). Also can be used as an adjective, i.e. “He’s so queeny,” and often refers to a particularly effeminate gay man (See “NellyAn adjective used to describe a girly gay man (see “FemmeRefers to a swishy, fussy queen (See “Flaming Queen”).”).”). Donna Summer inspired me to research the shades of her past when it comes to her legions of gay fans.
My love for Donna’s music is sentimental. I have clear memories of her disco siren songs at an impressionable age. Her voice and her vibe shaped my taste in music (and men!), even if I barely understood at the time that my favorite flavor was gay. And allegedly, Donna barely intended to give off such a gay vibe, even though she was the very definition of a diva on the gay dancefloor.
Now that the gay disco dreams of my youth have defined my adult life, my heart aches for my beloved gays who grieve so deeply over dearly departed Donna. My respect for her disco legacy is unquestioning, and the loss they feel is real.
But I needed to quench my curiosity about how she managed to cling to her iconography despite the cloud that hung over her relationship with the gay community. Allegedly, she had denounced it in the most heartless way, intimating that AIDS was god’s punishment for homosexuality.
I doubt anyone but Donna knows the truth about what she did or didn’t say, but perhaps the most fitting tribute to her glamorous life and untimely death is to practice forgiveness. I have no doubt Donna went to her grave with heartfelt regret that she had been misunderstood, but it was also a time when AIDS itself was misunderstood.
New issues divide us today, and they still offer opportunities to evolve and forgive. As dark and discriminatory chapters of human history come to a close, new struggles emerge, and the best we can do is live and learn.
The struggle for full acceptance of the T in LGBT is one example of such an opportunity. We’re beginning to understand how nature and nurture play into this next civil rights frontier of the gay agenda, and I admit I’ve had to check myself along the way. In retrospect, I’m grateful for the littlest bits of exposure and communication – however clumsy or coincidental – that paved my path toward understanding that dignity is a universal struggle.
Donna Summer’s “Last Dance” was for love, and I’d like to remember her by giving her the benefit of the doubt. She will always be the one who put the love in “Love to Love You, Baby,” and she was a glittering example of the beauty of loving her gays, in her special way. And damn that diva could bring it like no other.