Gay Times Magazine

A note from us.

- Lewis Corner Editorial Director

On the 25th of December 1996, I unwrapped a box-shaped present that would transform my eight-year-old world. Under the festive-patterned wrapping - now in torn-up shreds on the other side of the living room - was a state-of-the-art JVC boombox. It was shiny black, heavy enough to know it could blast out some serious sound, and light enough to know I could take it anywhere I wanted. Moments later it was plu‚ed in and playing my first ever CD, the enduring compilatio­n album of legend known as Now That’s What I Call Music! 35.

For months I would sing along to The Beautiful South’s Rotterdam, dance along to the Spice Girls mega-hit Say You’ll Be There, and get lost in Dina Carroll’s severely underrated pop gem Escaping (honestly go listen - you won’t regret it). But it was track number two on disc one that I was always drawn to most. Whether it was the addictive refrain of “gotta get up to get down,” the slow dance-groove of the production, or George Michael’s soul-drenched vocal, Fastlove captured me every single time. Did I have any idea the song was written about one-night stands? Of course not. Did it stop me from singing along to every word? Not one bit. But what I also didn’t realise is that I’d stumbled upon my first queer hero - and the first person I’d ever know to be gay.

Two years later my dad brought home George Michael’s greatest hits collection Ladies & Gentlemen, and my obsession with his music intensifie­d tenfold. At 10 years old I hadn’t fully yet realised I was different, but like most queer kids, I knew something was up. It was around this time that I also started to notice the intensely negative press coverage he received, and through this process I came to discover the idea that men can like other men as more than just best friends. The very notion of queerness being a thing awoke a part of me that had subconscio­usly always been there. It would be years before I truly understood it, but in that moment I instinctiv­ely knew that George Michael was part of a community I was destined to join.

This Note From Us isn’t about me giving you my life story - that would be way too boring - but rather to highlight the power music has to help you understand who you really are. It’s the one art form where you can place yourself at the centre of the story, enwrap yourself in your own private world and use the music to soundtrack the highs and lows of your life. For three minutes you can fully escape reality and momentaril­y lose yourself to an alternate universe of your choosing.

It’s why queer people - more than anyone else - have such a passionate connection to music. At numerous points in our lives we’ve relied on it for comfort, understand­ing, solace and celebratio­n. When you discover that the real world doesn’t always consider your existence as equal to your cishet counterpar­ts, why wouldn’t you want to fall into a vortex of empowering lyrics, pulsating beats, and a chorus to send wigs sky-high? When you’re stru‚ling to identify why you’re so different to those around you, why wouldn’t you want to lose yourself in vulnerable storytelli­ng, intimate songwritin­g and intricate melodies? Music can be the ultimate search engine when it comes to discoverin­g and understand­ing our feelings.

It’s why we’ve brought back our Sounds Like Queer Spirit issue for a second year, showcasing and celebratin­g the musical brilliance of LGBTQ artists and advocates out there right now. I have little doubt that our three cover stars this month have already inspired a young queer kid to help understand who they are. It’s a journey Greyson Chance had to undergo in the spotlight himself. After becoming a viral superstar aged 12, the Oklahoma native has been on a decadelong journey to become the artist he was always meant to be.

The same can be said for ALMA who, after speaking about her sexual orientatio­n publicly for the first time with GAY TIMES last year, reflects on the journey she has been on over the past 12 months as an openly queer artist.

Then there’s the powerful, political and punchy lyrics of Chika; one of the most exciting new queer talents to burst onto the scene in recent years. The Alabama rapper is taking a no holds barred approach with her music, which has earned her a legion of fans and highlights her as a queer force to be reckoned with.

Alongside the poetic storytelli­ng of Arlo Parks, the long-awaited debut album from Zebra Katz, rising star mxmtoon, hit-maker extraordin­aire Tayla Parx, the return of La Roux, and much much more, this issue is packed full of queer excellence shaking up the music industry this year. My love affair with music hasn’t wavered since I hit play on that JVC boombox 24 years ago, and with each New Music Friday I always feel a huge amount of pride that queer artists are continuall­y releasing some of the most exciting, innovative and boundary-pushing material right now. George Michael was one of very few unapologet­ically queer artists I could look towards growing up, but with today’s fearless crop of LGBTQ music stars, the next generation are spoiled for choice - and long may that continue.

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