Saying Goodbye to The Legendary George Michael: A Queer Icon on His Own Terms
George Michael’s music could be considered a map for outsiders, a sanctuary and a shield.
Back in the 90s, MTV was kind of what really mattered in the lives of adolescents all across America. You yourself were possibly addicted to music videos. On an average day, the regular American teenager (perhaps yourself included) would rush home from school, and turn on their now-vintage TV sets on the above-mentioned, renowned music channel.
Then you’d immediately call your BFF and start an exciting conversation about Madonna’s latest video or Janet Jackson’s latest choreography. Heck, girls all over the country would probably dance to the Spice Girls!
Maybe you inclusively remember Marilyn Manson’s “The Dope Show”? Remember the infamous rocker’s alien-ish breast plate and blood-red contact lenses? Well, George Michael was perceived as even more peculiar by some of you, most probably. Provided you remember ‘Outside’, of course.
The story behind George Michael’s ‘Outside’ is actually a commentary on his arrest earlier in 1998 for cruising a public restroom in Beverly Hills. Where we’re getting at from here is that, to some straight people, being gay in the real world is even weirder than pretending to be a goth-like sex alien from beyond the Milky Way. Throwback to 1998, sexuality (even more so – homosexuality and being gay) was like the corner of a treasure chest, also a source of curiosity for the pubescent folk.
‘Outside’, with its pulsing beat, eventually became an anthem (to some). Merely by watching the video for ‘Outside’, you’d get the chance at taking a peek at the candy-colored and somewhat exaggerated gay life that George Michael was providing. Two musclemen bodybuilders embraced in a room. Both gay and straight couples intertwined in the streets. And, the icing on the cake – George Michael in a skintight police officer outfit. Pretty much revolutionary, for the time being, wouldn’t you agree?
One of the most charismatic pop stars from roughly the last two decades, with his huge potential and colossal talent, George Michael bounced back from the above-mentioned scandal and turned the event into a top-of-the-charts hit single/video. In the public eye, George Michael’s sexuality was referred to as an ‘open secret’. As graceful, slender and tanned, in a white speedo, in “Club Tropicana”, George Michael was the one to discreetly bring an allure of queer sexuality into the mainstream, whether he was aware of that or not, back in the day. Nevertheless, his personal touch was somewhat less theatrical than the other displays of that era, but nonetheless super classy!
The above-mentioned “Outside”, was the lead single from Michael’s greatest hits compilation – “Ladies and Gentlemen, which many of his fans received with great appreciation. In any case, George Michael had become a phenomenon, an acclaimed performer and pop star. His glorious uniqueness is that concept that separated him from other performers at that time, with his 1987 debut solo album “Faith” remaining one of the best reinventions of popular music. It could be claimed he was pretty much ‘outrageous’, but in the best way possible, obviously. From his tabloid shenanigans to his soulful voice, he was a real, flesh and blood slaying legend!
Those already ‘anchored’ in terms of their own sexuality, whether gay or straight, would preserve their love for George Michael in the neon shades of Wham!, and singles such as “I Want Your Sex”, or “Freeek!”.
Faced with public scrutiny, George Michael refused to temper his sexuality. In a 2011 tweet, he boldly confessed: “I HAVE NEVER AND WILL NEVER APOLOGISE FOR MY SEX LIFE ! GAY SEX IS NATURAL, GAY SEX IS GOOD! NOT EVERYBODY DOES IT, BUT…..HA HA!”
Moreover, celebs reacted in shock to the 80s superstar’s unexpected death, due to heart failure, at 53 years of age, on December 25th, 2016, with the likes of Ellen DeGeneres tweeting: “I just heard about my friend @GeorgeMichael’s death. He was such a brilliant talent. I’m so sad.”, while Gloria Gaynor said: “So sorry to hear of the passing of George Michael. My prayers and condolences go out to his family, friends and fans.”
Moreover, “Farewell my friend!” tweeted artist Madonna. “Another great artist leaves us.”
In any case, 2016 has been devastating, in terms of losing legendary figures from both the music industry (David Bowie, Prince), while the world also had to say its goodbyes to Muhammad Ali and Alan Rickman, to name a few.
As a closing note, we can all agree on the fact that George Michael, with an influential career that spanned almost four decades, was indeed the gay icon and megastar the world deserved, but who departed too soon. Nonetheless, his ultra-creative contributions will live on forever. George also said: “I watch people who are not driven by creativity any more, and I think how dull it must be to produce the same kind of thing. If you don’t feel you’re reaching something new, then don’t do it.”