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March 2015

Song Lyrics That Used the Word 'Gay' Before Its Meaning Changed




If a song has the word 'gay' in its lyrics chances are it came from an earlier era, most likely before Stonewall and the beginning of the gay liberation movement (but there are exceptions).  Such songs use the word to describe a mood of happiness or lightheartedness.  When people hear these lyrics today some smile, others giggle, but traditionalists are often annoyed that the word has lost its innocent meaning.  (Occasionally a misguided soul tries to change 'gay' to 'happy' or 'fun' but then relents when his/her attempt is discovered and ridiculed in the media.)  For this post I've found eighteen songs that use the word the old-school way, and here they are ...



This was a top-10 tune for R&B singer Sam Cooke in 1962.


Let me tell you about a place

Somewhere up-a New York way

Where the people are so gay

Twistin' the night away





This was one of the biggest hits of the 1950s, by the Platters.


Oh yes, I'm the great pretender

Just laughing and gay like a clown





Like The Great Pretender, this was another big hit from 1956.  Originally performed by Frankie Lymon & the Teenager, it was also a top 10 hit for Diana Ross 25 years later.


Why do birds sing so gay?

And lovers await the break of day?

Why do they fall in love?





From the 1945 movie State Fair, it won Rogers & Hammerstein an Oscar for Best Original Song.


But I feel so gay

In a melancholy way

That it might as well be spring





A jazz classic written in the 1930s by gay composer and lyricist Billy Strayhorn (who also wrote Take the 'A' Train).


I use to visit all the very gay places

Those come what may places

Where one relaxes on the axis of the wheel of life

To get the feel of life

From jazz and cocktails





This maudlin pop song by Gilbert O'Sullivan topped the charts in the summer of 1972. 


To think that only yesterday

I was cheerful, bright and gay





Written by Bob Dylan in 1997, long after the word 'gay' had its transformation.


I'm strummin' on my gay guitar

Smoking a cheap cigar





A somewhat generic New-Age song in the style of Enya or Sarah Mclachlan that was a hit for Loreena McKennitt.


We've been rambling all the night

And some of the day

Now returning back again

We bring a garland gay





This is an Australian nursery rhyme.  The kookaburra is a large bird found in Australia and New Guinea that has a loud call that resembles human laughter.


Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree,

Merry, merry king of the bush is he

Laugh kookaburra, laugh, kookaburra

How gay your life must be!




Here's another children's song, this one from 1949.  The composers, Steve Nelson and Jack Rollins, would write Frosty the Snowman the following year (but with no use of the word "gay").  Peter Cottontail was released as a single by Gene Autry and it went to #5 on Billboard's Hot 100!  


Bringin' every girl & boy

A basketful of Easter joy

Things to make your Easter

Bright & gay




From West Side Story, this song has a gay pedigree as its lyricist was Stephen Sondheim.


I feel pretty, oh so pretty

I feel pretty and witty and gay

And I pity

Any girl who isn't me today





This comes From Leonard Bernstein's operetta Candide, composed in the 1950s.


Glitter and be gay

That's the part I play 

Here I am in Paris, France

Forced to bend my soul


And later in the song ...


Enough! Enough!

I'll take their diamond necklace

And show my noble stuff

And being gay and reckless





Al Jarreau provided vocals for this jazz-infused theme song for ABC's detective comedy from the late 1980s.  It starred Cybil Shepherd and, in his breakout role, Bruce Willis.


Some walk by night, some fly by day

Nothing could change you, set and sure of the way

Charming and bright, laughing and gay

I'm just a stranger, love the blues and the Braves





A composition by Rodgers & Hammerstein, it was written for the 1945 movie State Fair, it won the Oscar for Best Original Song.


But I feel so gay, in a melancholy way

That it might as well be spring


It might as well be spring



Sung by Amy Adams' character in the 2007 Disney movie Enchanted, this is the most recent example of a song tapping the word 'gay' for its earlier meaning.


And you’ll trill a cheery tune in the tub

As we scrub a stubborn mildew stain

Lug a hairball from the shower drain

To the gay refrain

Of a happy working song





This was the first cartoon to air in primetime.


When you're with the Flintstones

Have a yabba dabba-do time

A dabba-do time

We'll have a gay old time!





A song by Rodgers & Hart Rodgers written for the 1930 show Simple Simon, the song was cut.  On Bette Midler's 1990 album Some People's Lives, one of the tracks is this song, but, curiously, her version changed the lyric, excising "gay" for "light my way".


When I was mean to him he didn't say go away now

You see I was his queen to him

Who's gonna make me gay now?





Although the word 'gay' didn't mean 'LGBT gay', this holiday chestnut was first sung by gay icon Judy Garland in the 1944 movie Meet Me in St. Louis.


Have yourself a merry little Christmas

Let the yuletide be gay

From now on our troubles will be miles away





This is likely the best-known song on this list, largely because it's been around since the late 19th century.


Don we now our gay apparel

Fa la la la la la, la la la!

Troll the ancient Yuletide carol

Fa la la la la, la la la la!




Finally, one of the readers of this post was inspired to post a video on YouTube with a medley of 34 songs, including most of those listed above.






2015 News Headlines of Gay & Lesbian Interest



Feb 25, 2015 - A passionate same-sex kiss between two male characters on The Walking Dead causes somewhat of a backlash on social media.  (Because there's nothing worse for straight men than having the hard-on they got watching zombies eat human flesh go soft by a depiction of something unnatural like homosexuality.)




March 4, 2015 - Billionaire entertainment executive David Geffen donates $100 million to the renovation of Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall, which will be renamed after him. 

March 11, 2015 - Gay fashion-design duo Dolce & Gabbana create a furor after they are quoted in an Italian magazine saying that children born via in-vitro fertilization are not real in the traditional sense ("The only family is the traditional one. No chemical offsprings and rented uterus.")  One of the persons expressing outrage, Elton John, once sang at homophobe Rush Limbaugh's 2005 wedding.

March 16, 2015 - Football player Michael Sam is the third gay man to compete on Dancing with the Stars, joining Lass Bass and Carson Kressley before him.




March 17, 2015 - The largest Presbyterian denomination (1.8 million members) votes to change the definition of marriage in the church’s constitution to include same-sex marriage. 

March 26, 2015 - The governor of Indiana signs into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which makes it legal for business owners, because of their religious beliefs, to refuse service to gay customers.  (Due to a national backlash it was re-written the following week.)

March 27, 2015 - A massive fire in the wee hours of the morning destroys half of Cherry Grove's famed Ice Palace disco/bar/lodging complex.  This came three-and-a-half years after a fire destroyed the Pavilion in the Pines.




April 7, 2015 - Long in the works, Larry Kramer's 800-page novel, An American People, is published.

April 24, 2015 - During a televised interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer, former Olympian Bruce Jenner discusses his transition from male to female.  The telecast is viewed by nearly 17 million.

May 15, 2015 - Luxembourg's openly gay prime minister, Xavier Bettel (pictured, right), marries his partner, Gauthier Destinay, making them the world's first openly gay "first couple."




May 22, 2015 - Ireland becomes the first country to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote.

June 7, 2015 - The musical Fun Home, based on Alison Bechdel's novel about growing up as a lesbian in rural Pennsylvania and the relationship she had with her closeted father, wins the Tony Award for Best Musical.




June 12, 2015 - The cover story of this week's issue of Entertainment Weekly (dated 6/19) is about the "50 Gay TV & Movie Characters We Love The Most". 

June 16, 2015 - The mayor of South Bend, Indiana, 33-year-old Navy veteran Pete Buttigieg, reveals he is gay in a column in the morning paper.

June 26, 2015 - In a 5-4 vote the US Supreme Court rules that same-sex marriage is legal nationwide.

July 27, 2015 - The Boy Scouts of America lifts its ban on adult scout leaders who are gay. 

Aug 25, 2015 - The Manhattan headquarters of digital gay escort service, RentBoy.com is raided by federal agents and six employees arrested, including its CEO.




Nov. 3, 2015 - Salt Lake City elects a lesbian mayor, 49-year-old Jackie Biskupski while in Palm Springs, Robert Moon was elected as the city's third gay mayor.


To read highlights of gay history/pop culture from previous years, double click here.

Discovering the Sex Appeal of Redheads

Redhot100.bookA few weeks ago I was chatting with a fellow at my neighborhood bar, the Monster, and he happened to be a redhead.  However, because of the lighting I didn't realize this until a gregarious gentleman walked over and told him, "I could stare at your red pubes for hours."  With that established he sauntered off and my redheaded friend mentioned an event he happened upon in SoHo for a book titled Red Hot 100: The 100 Sexiest Red Hot Guys in the World, which celebrates sexy redheaded men.  (Click here for the book's website.)  This got me thinking about redheads, who generally aren't on my radar since Latinos and Mediterranean types get most of my attention.  For the most part I think of them as being more cute than sexy.  However, after looking through the pages of of sexy faces and hot bodies in Red Hot my perceptions changed.  And it was a relief to discover that not all redheads look like Carrot Top.


Redheads are a rare breed, apparently even more so than persons who are left handed or gay.  They come in varying shades, e.g., flaming orange, auburn, strawberry blonde and other variations, which seem to be referred to as "ginger".   A lot of times you may not know they are redheads until they grow a beard or you see them naked.  Despite my affinity for Latinos I wouldn't be averse to going out with a redhead.  (I can think of one I dated and another I slept with.)  


In no particular order, here is my top-10 list of Cutest/Sexiest Red Heads, three of whom who are gay and four are from the UK .



  • Perhaps the most famous redhead is rascally Prince Harry.




  • As far as athletes go, redheads seem to gravitate to hockey.  Andy Dalton, however, is the starting quarterback of the Cincinnati Bengals. 




  • Comic actor Seth Green may be known best for playing Dr. Evil's son, Scott Evil, in the Austin Powers movies.




  • Jesse Tyler Ferguson, one of the openly gay persons on this list, plays one of the gay daddies on Modern Family.  In my opinion he should have one of the Emmys won by his TV hubby, Eric Stonestreet.  Ferguson is known for his snappy bow ties, which he also sells through The Tie Bar (http://www.thetiebar.com).  All proceeds go to Tie the Knot, a same-sex marriage foundation. 




  • Actor Michael Fassbender played a sex addict in Shame, a Spartan solider in 300, a British lieutenant in Inglorious Basterds and a sadistic plantation owner in 12 Years A Slave (for which he received an Oscar nomination for Supporting Actor).




  • Actor John Benjamin Hickey won a Tony for his role in The Normal Heart.  Like Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Hickey is openly gay.




  • British actor Damian Lewis is best known for his Emmy-winning role in the Showtime series Homeland.




  • Actor Dash Mihok was raised in Greenwich Village and grew up in the Westbeth Artists apartments on Bank St.  He's had small roles in a number of movies I've seen (The Guru; I Am Legend; Silver Linings Playbook), but I don't recall seeing him.  




  • Best known for his role as Dr. Owen Hunt on Grey's Anatomy for the past eight seasons, Scottish actor Kevin McKidd has also appeared in the TV series movie and as Poseidon in the movie Percy Jackson & the Olympians.




  • Finally, singer/actor Anthony Rapp is the third openly gay entry on this list.  He gained attention when he appeared in Rent, but I remember him from his first movie role when he was a teenager, 1987's Adventures in Babysitting.




Julianne.moore.redheadAnd although Red Hot 100 is all about men, here is a a shout-out to some stunning women who are redheads (who were easier for me  to think of off the top of my head than the men): Julianne Moore (right); Emma Stone; Marcia Cross; Jessica Chastain; Nicole Kidman; and Debra Messing.


New York Mets Embroiled In Another Gay Controversy




Earlier this week (in March 2015) New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy let it be known that he "disagrees" with the gay lifestyle.  This isn't the first time the Mets have been thrust into the glare of controversy over the subject of homosexuality.  In 1999 Atlanta Braves relief pitcher John Rocker made homophobic comments about New Yorkers in an interview in Sports Illustrated.  He confided that he'd never want to play for a New York team because of his experience riding the 7 subway to Shea Stadium, where he found himself sitting next to "some queer with AIDS, a dude next to him who just got out of jail for the fourth time, next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids."  Then in 2002 catcher Mike Piazza called a press conference to dispel rumors that he was gay.  This happened shortly after Mets manager Bobby Valentine said in a magazine interview that he expected a player to come out shortly (we're still waiting).


Murphy's comments came after the Mets hired Billy Bean, a ballplayer from the 1990s who's now openly gay, as Major League Baseball's first "ambassador of inclusion".   Specifically, here is what Murphy said:




As I see it, saying that he disagrees with the lifestyle of individuals created by God strongly suggests Murphy questions God's wisdom.  Hardly a trait of someone described as "devout" - unenlightened would be a better descriptor.  I suppose he also "disagrees" with the "lifestyle" of pork eaters; those who mix meat and dairy (e.g., eating a cheeseburger); have sex with a menstruating woman; work on the Sabbath; or who aren't circumcised - all activities proscribed in the Bible.  This brings to mind some of conservative bishops who have voiced dissent over Pope Francis's messages of inclusion.  Since the pope is the conduit of God, shouldn't these apostates be banished?  I'm also reminded of the homophobic teammate in the Broadway drama Take Me Out from the early 2000s.




I'd like to know what in particular Murphy finds so "disagreeable" about the gay "lifestyle".  Is it singing show tunes, having a love of the arts, dancing ability, our witty repartee and bon mots, possessing good taste?  Perhaps it's the courage to live one's life as it was meant to be and not cower in fear or shame?  Or is Murphy's message an attempt to conceal his own homoerotic desires?  After all, Christians who are in the public eye expressing righteous indignation as a way to provide cover for their own desires have become a cliche. 


Although I respect Murphy for saying what he believes I'm a bit disappointed that Billy Bean (pictured below), was so accommodating to him.  (He says he'd like to have further discussions with Murphy in the hopes of "enlightening" him - that reads like a premise for a porn movie to me!)  However, chances are Mets management asked Bean to respond in a conciliatory fashion since they'd rather alienate gay fans than their Christian fan base, which is probably far larger, especially in cities such as Atlanta, Cincinnati, St. Louis and Houston.  But give the Mets credit for hiring Bean in the first place.