Music can be an incredibly powerful agent. It can carry a voice of hope in a hopeless world, through an accessible medium. “Music empowers and nurtures people. For a young, poor LGBT person living in, say, Kenya, and all they have is a radio. This radio can be their lifeline.” Where the government controls what goes on the airways, there are many brave gay and gay-friendly musicians from these countries who upload songs to Youtube where they can be found by anyone who wants, or likely needs them. Songs can talk to you and make an impression on you, they can be there to tell you who you are when there’s no one else like you. “For me, it was discovering Tom Robinson’s angry, acoustic performance of Glad To Be Gay when I was a teenager. It made me suddenly realise that LGBT music was more than just disco. It was something that I could relate to, and it was such an awakening for me.” It can be a voice from another world, a world you didn’t even know existed. In the western world, the abundance of apparent freedoms can be easy to take for granted. “It would be so easy for us to lose so many of the rights we’ve won over the last 50 years. It’s exactly what happened in 1930s, and it’s exactly what’s happening all over the world.” However, if anything can be taken from this book, it’s that no matter how much hardship is happening to the LGBT+ community, through silence, violence, shame and prejudice, the community always pushes through. “I do think things will get better. Things are very, very slowly getting better in Russia and Jamaica. But we as a community need to be there, to offer support and nurture communities. We need to be opening our arms. The political struggle from the 50s and 60s hasn’t gone away, it just changed borders. We need to be there.”
“The political struggle from the 50s and 60s hasn’t gone away, it just changed borders.”The smallest moment can be a catalyst for change. 13 million people watched the historical performance on Top of the Pops in 1972, where Bowie slid his arm onto the shoulder of his guitarist Mick Ronson and stared deep into his eyes. Although this moment seems strange to comment on now, at the time it was a huge watershed moment of television. “As an artist, he was always playing with gender fluidity and identity. What he did so subversively, was push it a little bit further for the audience. He brought it into people’s homes.” Bowie, turning his stare directly into the camera, towards the viewer, as if directly communicating with everyone watching. This was a moment for young viewers grappling with their sexuality, to see his stare, which seemed to say ‘I believe in you, and it’s going to be ok.’ Bowie legitimised, through his music and his career, celebrating difference, and empowered people to not be afraid of it.