Music

I Wasn't Actually Born That Way, But the Preacher's Boy Was

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Andrew Sullivan suggests that Carl Bean's "I Was Born This Way" might be the gayest song ever. I thought the gayest song ever was "I Love My Fruit," or maybe Tiny Tim's "I'm Gonna Be a Country Queen," but we can set that aside. The interesting thing about "I Was Born This Way" is that it was composed by a heterosexual. As The Advocate reported in 1978,

[T]he lyric was written by Bunny Jones, a straight black woman with a family. Jones employed gay people in her New York hairstyling salon, and many of them became her close friends. When the gay rights issue got hot and heavy she decided that it was time for a positive statement.

"She is the opposite of Anita Bryant," states Bean.

I found that clip on the Queer Music Heritage website, which also informs us that the songwriters Ronnie Wilkins and John Hurley were lovers. Wilkins and Hurley wrote two major hits, one of which was "Son of a Preacher Man," which takes on new dimensions if you imagine it sung by a guy rather than by Dusty Springfield or Aretha Franklin. It may well be autobiographical, since Hurley himself is a gospel singer. (As is Carl "I Was Born This Way" Bean. That's Archbishop Carl Bean to you.) So I take back what I said about Tiny Tim: "Son of a Preacher Man" is the gayest song ever.

The other big hit written by Wilkins and Hurley? It's "Love of the Common People," which is, depending on how you prefer to think of it, a great country song by Waylon Jennings, a great soul song by the Winstons, a great reggae song by Nicky Thomas, or a great '80s pop song by Paul Young. Also, this guy plays it on the accordion, which is totally gay.

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  1. I always thought the gayest song ever was “Turbo Lover” by Judas Priest.

  2. not that there’s anything wrong with that…

  3. Wow. Slow news day, huh?

  4. Dammit, Episiarch beat me to it.

  5. Macho Man.

  6. Sorry. Gayest song ever was/is now and forever “Love for Sale,” by who else Cole Porter. Second gayest song ever? “Ten Cents a Dance,” by Rogers and Hart.

  7. I once saw seven senior citizens dressed as The Village People performing YMCA on top of the home dugout of the Dayton Dragons between innings.

    I’m now blind.

  8. I don’t know… I think I’d have to say that Tom Robinson’s Glad to Be Gay would qualify as the gayest song ever.

    Nephilium

  9. Wow. Son of a Preacher Man being a gay song. That is a great bit of trivia Jessee. I am impressed. As far as gayest songs ever made what about “Me and Julio Down By The School Yard” and “All The Young Dudes” or “Tainted Love” by Soft Sell?

  10. The interesting thing about “I Was Born This Way” is that it was composed by a heterosexual

    Seriously?
    What’s really interesting is that men often write dialogue for women, and vice versa!

  11. Neph –
    That might just be too literal.
    Otherwise, we’re going to have to start including songs like “Sweet Transvestite” from Rocky Horror Picture Show

  12. What’s really interesting is that men often write dialogue for women, and vice versa!

    That is interesting.

  13. “What’s really interesting is that men often write dialogue for women, and vice versa!

    That is interesting.”

    A lot of times the best songs are occur when they are written for one sex and then flipped and sung by the other. For example, Girls Just Want to Have Fun was written by a guy as sort of an ode to his former girlfriends and was flipped into a female anthem by Cindy Lauper. The best example of all time of this is Respect, which was written as a real “He Man Hey I pay the Bills Women!” song for Otis Redding and became the ultimate female anthem when sung by Aretha Franklin.

  14. This http://www.secretcowboys.com/ is the gayest song of all, IMO.
    JMR

  15. uh guys

    samwell – what what (in the butt)

    is the gayest song ever.

  16. JMR: When I hosted a country music show on my college’s radio station, every now and then I would throw in the original version of that song, by Ned Sublette. Sometimes I’d play it back to back with Two Nice Girls’ “I Spent My Last 10 Dollars on Birth Control and Beer (My Life Was So Much Simpler When I Was Sober and Queer).” It always provoked some interesting reactions.

  17. The correct answer is “What’s Your Name?” by Depeche Mode.

  18. “It’s Rainin’ Men!”

  19. John,

    “Tainted Love” by Soft Sell Gloria Jones?

    Fixed.

  20. I think I love Son of a Preacher Man all the more now!

    But maybe it played during the wrong scene in Pulp Fiction. /tasteless

  21. The correct answer is “What’s Your Name?” by Depeche Mode.

    I defer to the expert.

  22. You should hear the cover of “Son of a Preacher Man” by queer punk band Pansy Division, whose entire oevure (sp?) is gayer than all of HRC singing “YMCA” while naked.

  23. I always thought the gayest song ever was “Turbo Lover” by Judas Priest.

    You seem to have forgotten me.

  24. You seem to have forgotten me.

    Rob Halford posts here!

  25. I defer to the expert.

    Heh. And I always wondered why I became a huge fan of Priest at around 14 years old and almost no other heavy metal of the time…

    “Ram it Down” is certainly suggestive but it’s hard to beat Depeche Mode’s first album for limp-wristed, tiptoe-thru-the-tulips fagginess.

  26. How about “Gay Bar” by Electric Six?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTN6Du3MCgI

  27. sam: I didn’t know Pansy Division had covered that song! I’ll have to check that out.

    I did know — JLM will appreciate this — that they recorded a version of “Cowboys Are Frequently Secretly Fond of Each Other,” available here as a Star Trek slash vid.

  28. Wow, you all know so much gayer songs than I do.
    All I could think of was Michael by Franz Ferdinand, or anything by Rufus Wainwright

  29. Ram it Down” is certainly suggestive but it’s hard to beat Depeche Mode’s first album for limp-wristed, tiptoe-thru-the-tulips fagginess.

    Tiptoe Thru the Tulips was originally recorded by a guy named Nick Lucas, who was a smokin’ hot jazz guitarist, for the Goldiggers 1929 movie. Ok, so the song was still as gay as a daffodil, but for that kind of guitar playing, I can overlook plenty…

    Listen…

  30. Anything by Pet shop boys qualifies.

  31. All I could think of was Michael by Franz Ferdinand

    That’s so NOT gay. Jeez, you need to get out more 🙂

  32. I thought the gayest song was “I’m too sexy…” followed by “It’s raining men”

    I’m strongly suspecting few of you actually live in or near gay enclaves.

    Oh, for lesbians, anything by the Indigo girls.

  33. My grandma’s Dutch-Irish and my grandpa’s lesbian, that makes me quarter lesbian!

  34. Oh, for lesbians, anything by the Indigo girls.

    IS THAT WHY Michael Stipe sang, “Are you on fire?”

  35. Want to hear gay songs?
    Have I got the band for you –
    Check out Erasure

  36. “Waiting for Mommy” by My Life With the Thrill Kill Cult will give John McCain a bikini wax at 50 paces.

  37. “Wake me up before you go go” by Wham

  38. Anything off this page is going to beat a lot of y’alls suggestions.

  39. Everyone here seems to be forgetting The Frogs’ It’s Only Right and Natural
    Gayest. Album. Ever.

  40. “Wake me up before you go go” by Wham

    I think I saw on VH1 that that hook was actually written by the straight guy in the group.

  41. Dude, this is a joke.

    The gayest songs ever are all by Eurasure and the Pet Shop boys. With runner-up status from the entire Depeche Mode catalogue. You can gay-up any red-blooded male through prolonged exposure to any of that stuff.

    Dave Weigel still suffers from his limited fandom of this stuff.

    hey, i was just reading comments above, and it seems a few people have beaten me to the punch.

    Great minds think alike.

    There is some truth to 80s hair-rock also being suepr-gay. There’s something a little suspicious about the whole hair, eyeliner, and their determination to be surrounded by bimbos. It’s like, somehow supposed to cancel the gayness out, but it hardly works.

    Oh man, gayest video ever alert =

    (warning = do not drink liquids during this thing unless your computer is waterproofed. Also, try and watch to the end. It just gets more and more and more intense)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fR0j7sModCI

    Man, the 80s were fucked up

  42. Erasure is what Thrill Kill Cult would play if their straight aunties came over one Sunday.

  43. FWIW, I dont consider *explicitly* gay tunes gay at all. If it’s out of the closet, then it’s like… *cool*.

    “gay” to me isnt “homosexual” (which as we all know = ‘not that there’s anything wrong with that’)

    The “gay” to which I refer is what kids mean when they say, “man, faux-hawk haircuts are so gay”.

    like, they SHOULD be indicative of blatant homosexuality, but somehow guidos, guys in LA, and metero-fashion-funboys just dont get it. It’s gay like those sneaker-slipper shoes that people wear are gay. Or those supertight jeans on skinny legged hipsters. Get with it kids! You look like LOSERS. And not in the cool way. You will see pictures of yourself in 10 years and cry.

  44. Gilmore,

    I remember guys in highschool folding and rolling up the bottom of their jeans. That was gay. BTW, the same guys loved Erasure and Pet Shop Boys and studied fashion design.

  45. “There is some truth to 80s hair-rock also being suepr-gay. There’s something a little suspicious about the whole hair, eyeliner, and their determination to be surrounded by bimbos. It’s like, somehow supposed to cancel the gayness out, but it hardly works.”

    By this definition “Girls, Girls, Girls” by Motley Crue was super-gay. (I like this song and I’m not ashamed to admit it).

  46. Don’t forget Bronski Beat.

  47. rana | March 14, 2008, 5:02pm | #
    Gilmore,

    I remember guys in highschool folding and rolling up the bottom of their jeans. That was gay. BTW, the same guys loved Erasure and Pet Shop Boys and studied fashion design.

    You got it girlfriend.

  48. The “gay” to which I refer is what kids mean when they say, “man, faux-hawk haircuts are so gay”.

    A lot of us don’t have that definition in their vocabulary, as it tended to be used by frat-boys and other troglodytes from which we wished to disassociate ourselves as far as possible.

  49. Oh, just a reminder, per a previous H&R thread which I’m too lazy to find and link to, Rob Halford’s Judas Priest was teh ghey. So you guys who drove Camaros in the 80’s and wore the leather vests? That means you.

  50. Gilmore: You’re so sassy!

  51. My vote goes to “Menergy” by Patrick Cowley, an eight-minute Hi-NRG/disco anthem about the San Francisco gay club scene of the early 80s.

  52. Rhywun | March 14, 2008, 5:31pm | #

    GILMORE
    “The “gay” to which I refer is what kids mean when they say, “man, faux-hawk haircuts are so gay”.”

    A lot of us don’t have that definition in their vocabulary

    Which, frankly, is pretty gay

    I would refer you to a group of gay guys I knew who worked for Fenton Communications …

    [http://www.fenton.com/pages/3_ourwork/1_clients/clients.htm#LGBT]

    … who, while we were hanging out at a bar on Christopher street, I heard describing a movie as really “gay”. Surprised, I asked if they used that term to mean both, “homosexual” as well as…uh, “wack”, (revealing my hip-hop datedness)… they sorta looked at me blankly and were like, “uhh…. Duuhh-uuuhh?! Who doesnt?” I shrugged and said it had never occurred to me that it would be quite so flexible even amongst men-who-prefer-the-company-of-men.

    FWIW, one of these gay guys WAS the former president of his fraternity. I dont know how exactly that might connect to your ‘troglodyte’ comment. He was pretty butch though.

    i find people the most priggish about language usage tend to be people with pretty limited contact with the people they’re so concerned with offending. Like, liberal arts college kids from the midwest. etc.

    A follow up question was, “what term do you personally consider the most derogatory in regards to sexual orientation”… there was then a spirited debate, where none of them could agree on one word without finding an appropriate use of the term amongst different crowds. Like, “queer” was OK in some cases, but demeaning when say someone like WF Buckley would drop it. “Homo” was one they had pretty solid consensus on as being, if not completely offensive, just in poor taste. They tended to find that thuggy guido types or blacks would yell “homo” at them from time to time if they were engaged in PDA on the street. “Fag” was one of the least demeaning. They called each other fags all the time. “Queen” was pretty specific to extremely effeminate gay men, and they’d think it misplaced if used as a derogatory in general for all gay men.

    In the end, the conclusion was that the intention was much more important than the word used, and that simply calling something like, the movie “What Women Want” ‘totally gay’ had nothing to do with homosexuality and everything to do with a really bad film targeting the Oxygen network demographic.

    Then we drank a lot and they tried to explore how straight I really was. They gave up in like 5 minutes. My girlfriend tried to get them started again but they were like, “Waste. Of. Time.”. It made her angry for some reason. I dont know why it is girls would find it sexy that their man might have some latent gay-guy lurking deep inside.

    So, in short, possibly consider the #2 definition of “gay” another Word of the Day instead of something to sniff at.

  53. As a follow up point that just occurred to me =

    Rhywun | March 14, 2008, 5:31pm | #

    A lot of us don’t have that definition in their vocabulary, as it tended to be used by frat-boys and other troglodytes from which we wished to disassociate ourselves as far as possible….

    So, using the term “gay” in a fashion that intends no disrespect or bigotry against homosexuals is absolutely bigoted and uncool…

    …while referring to anyone who might have ever been involved in a fraternity as a “troglodyte” is perfectly acceptable

    Makes sense to me! Sorta. I went to a fraternity-laden university. Some of them *were* stereotypical dicks. Most were just guys who thought they would improve their chances of getting laid from 0 to 30-40% if they paid their dues and got invited to greek ‘formals’ by girls. Kind of like… Pinto in Animal house (Tom Hulce’s character)?

    unfortunately, the Sorority-chicks were far more consistently total unrepentant cunts. By a long shot. Man oh man.

    Me, I never joined and just drank their beer for free.

    I’m probably a troglodyte now that I think about it. I love the Jimmy Castor Bunch. He has a song called troglodyte i think

  54. So you guys who drove Camaros in the 80’s and wore the leather vests? That means you.

    He’s a biker. You know, one of the those bikers who don’t own motorcycles.

    You mean the ones that can really dance?

    Yeah. Those bikers. The clean ones.

  55. Honorable mention should go to “I Am the Walrus” backwards, which contains the line “Now I’m gay, man.”

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