Queer Ears: A Music Playlist

A playlist of queer songs compiled by volunteer Michael C. Holmes. Click the song title to listen.
 
A playful tune about gender-bending fashion trends of the time, this song has been recorded by many artists since the 1920s.
 
Girls were girls and boys were boys when i was a tot 
Now we don't know who is who or even what's what 
Knickers and trousers, baggy and wide
Nobody knows who's walking inside
Those masculine women and feminine men
 
 
Ma Rainey, known as the Mother of the Blues, sings about losing a man after finding him in the arms of a sissy.
 
My man got a sissy, his name is Miss Kate 
He shook that thing like jelly on a plate
 
 
Captivating audiences with a smooth voice, open sexuality, and flamboyant fashion sense, Jackie Shane gained fame performing in Toronto clubs in the 1960s, then disappeared from the music scene and retired to Nashville. Watch rare footage of Jackie performing another song here.
 
Tell her that I'm happy, tell her that I'm gay
Tell her I wouldn't have it any other way
 
 
From the first known gay-themed album in country music history.
 
Well your sexism’s a broken record, record, record
Been screechin’ for ten thousand years 
And the battles begun sir, I tell ya I’m done sir 
With crying these cocksucking tears
 
 
Long before Lady Gaga's "Born This Way", there was this gay anthem for biological determinism. A version of the song was recorded two years later by Carl Bean.
 
I'm walking through life in nature's disguise
You laugh at me and you criticize
Just because I'm happy, I'm carefree, and I'm gay
Yes I'm gay
Tain't a fault tis a fact
I was born this way
 
 
The first song with sexually explicit lesbian themes to reach Canadian pop music charts. Based in Toronto, the band was formed by CLGA National Portrait Collection inductee Carole Pope with multi-instrumentalist Kevan Staples.
 
What's her perfume? Tigress by Fabergé
It makes me cream my jeans
When she comes my way
 
 
Known for their comedy and parody songs, the campy musical duo use this track to comment on serious issues of homophobia.
 
Some liberals say that it's okay for people to be queer
As long as they don't flaunt it, but it seems to me my dear
That we've seen straight folks flaunt their sexuality for years
Sounds suspiciously like homophobia to me
 
 
Bambi Lake's account of San Franciso's street hustler scene in the 1970s is given new life by Justin Vivian Bond, with a music video featuring archival footage and large cast of contemporary performers.
 
Sticks and stones can break my bones
But names can never hurt me
The queens and the hustlers of the red light zones
Never did desert me
 
 
Posted Saturday, March 21, 2015
 

National Portrait Collection