To celebrate the release of Madonna: Song By Song, we asked the author, who happens to be DNA’s very own music guru, Marc Andrews, to countdown the Queen Of Pop’s 10 queer moments…
Originally a B-side, this tribute to the gay ballroom scene Madonna had spotted in NYC where DJ Shep Pettibone hung out, the pair sashayed away to #1 with Vogue and the rest is not just music history, but gay history.
Justify My Love (1990)
Not content with just one gangbuster queer video in the same calendar year, Madonna finished off 1990 with this ode to fetishism, S&M, gender fluidity, androgyny and sexual liberation. After MTV banned it, Madonna released it as a best-selling video.
Open Your Heart (1986)
Originally known as Follow Your Heart, Cyndi Lauper was going to record this but it ended up with Mads. When it came time to make the video, she and director Jean-Baptiste Mondino opened it to peeps shows, Cabaret, androgyny and homoerotica. Revolutionary!
It turned out Justify My Love was just for starters. Two years later, Madonna launched her coffee table porn book, subtlety titled Sex, with her Erotica single and album. Featuring sleazy Sex book outtakes (simulated fisting for beginners!) it was unjustifiably banned.
In This Life (1992)
Although 1992’s Erotica was generally about the seedier and steamier side of life, there was this one brief moment when Madonna stopped misbehaving to deliver her heartfelt dedication to the two gay men she had lost to the AIDS virus and loved “most of all”.
Veni Vidi Vici (2015)
This bonus track on 2015’s Rebel Heart album saw Mads reflecting on her long career and remembering “when I struck a pose all the gay boys lost their mind”. The title, translated from Latin, means, “I came, I saw, I conquered.” She did, too!
Killers Who Are Partying (2019)
On her Madame X album, four years later, Madonna went one further on this Portuguese Fado-inspired track with its first line, “I will be gay, if the gay are burned.” She also partied for Africa, the poor, children, Islam, Israel, Native Indian peoples and women.
Queen’s English (1993)
Playing backing vocalist for her unapologetically queer dancers Jose & Luis, who had ambitions of being pop stars themselves, this Junior Vasquez produced track is an underground queer classic. “Queens that read are the best” Madonna declares knowingly!
American Pie (2000)
While just a few folks were big fans of Madonna’s cover of Don McLean’s pub-rock anthem, that she cajoled openly gay actor Rupert Everett to do backing vocals was quite something. The pair starred as besties in The Next Best Thing movie before falling out.
Nobody Knows Me (2003)
In 2012 Madonna was already taking on mother Russia. During a St Petersburg concert she defied a gag on pro-LGBT “propaganda” by delivering an impassioned speech for the right to love as projections of bullied queer youth killed aired to this American Life tune.
Madonna: Song By Song is published by Fonthill Media. Visit fonthill.media for more, or buy the book from all online retailers and good book stores.