Martin Aston | The Writing Disorder | 16472gh
Martin Aston writes in The Guardian over the contribution the gay community made to rock and roll music. Many of the rock pioneers were gay and in the closet at the time.
It seems there was a brief flowering of gay culture within the main culture of music in America almost one hundred years ago.
… Talking about sex is hardly new for gay artists. They were doing the dirty in song almost 100 years ago, in 1920s Harlem, when blues singers such as Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith sang about same-sex affairs. Even gay men, less documented than the women, took advantage of a brief new social permissiveness following the first world war – George Hannah wrote and sang Freakish Man Blues in 1930. Away from the blues, there was the first gay pride anthem in 1920, Das Lila Lied (aka The Lavender Song), written by Berlin-based duo Spoliansky and Schwabach, through to the stars of the so-called Pansy Craze, popular in New York from 1930. From this came Gene – sometimes spelled Jean – Malin, whose 78rpm single I’d Rather Be Spanish Than Mannish predated Noël Coward’s none-more-camp delivery and innuendo. But the Pansy Craze was quickly snuffed out when 1929’s economic crash snowballed into the Great Depression, unleashing a new wave of religious bigotry and social repression.
Martin Aston’s book Breaking Down the Walls of Heartache: How Music Came Out was published by Constable on 13 October.