Sep 5, 2010

[Technicolor Musings] Growing Up Gay With Kylie

Kylie Minogue Cannes
Image via Wikipedia
I don't remember precisely when I fell in love with the music and artistry of Kylie Minogue, but it definitely coincided with my realizations about my sexuality. Sure, I'm familiar with her old songs from before that time, but only as tunes that sounded nice but nothing I particularly wanted to listen to more closely. To put things in context though, I wasn't into any of the more popular forms of music prior to high school. All I knew was classical pieces and lots and lots of Broadway musicals.

With the release of her latest album (and her second music video), I find myself thinking back to my on again, off again relationship with her music. She has sort of been a companion to me over the course of my homosexual awakening, my first relationship and so on and so forth. Every gay man has to have his diva after all. Some still fiercely defend Britney (hello Chris Crocker!) while newer generations have come to worship Lady GaGa. While I'll always have the utmost respect and appreciation for Madonna, it's only with Kylie that I can firmly say that I love with all my heart.

So for this week's Technicolor Musings post, I thought it might be fun and of course most timely to revisit my experience of growing up with the wonderful music of Kylie Minogue.

Did It Again (1997)

I first encountered Kylie by chance when her video for "Did It Again" first came out. I finally had a face to connect to her distinct voice, although my general lack of interest in popular music at the time made me not put too much effort into thinking about her. I just loved the video concept and marveled at how well done it was. You have to understand how this was a period when such effects were rare or even unheard of and as a technology fan, I made sure to take notice.

Spinning Around (2000)

I have to admit, Kylie truly became a person for me when her single "Spinning Around" first started making the rounds. By this time I was mainly a rock / blues kind of guy and I watched a respectable amount of MTV (when they still mostly showed music videos) but her song and the video struck me and I couldn't quite place it. But this time, I was also coming to fully accept that my lack of interest in women was not just because I was a nerdy student with my mind stuck in a science fiction universe.

On A Night Like This (2000)

Her second single, "On A Night Like This", had me realizing there was something about her music that just made you want And I wasn't one known to dance, quite frankly. In that sense I suppose I was really more of a nerd or a geek or whatever other intellectual label you think would fit best. But this was just the tip of the iceberg when it came to Kylie and me.

Can't Get You Out Of My Head (2001)

By the time "Can't Get You Out Of My Head" came out in 2001, I finally recognized Kylie as a music icon. What really helped was the fact that my sister took the time to learn the dance steps by heart. I was a lot more sure about my sexuality and had already had a few more experiences to, well, confirm the fact of my being gay. This is around the time when I started to develop an appreciation for music without thinking about the lyrics. There are just those songs that you get drawn to because of the rhythm, the beat or the melody that get you tapping your feet almost instinctively. When I think of Kylie music, I always think of the upbeat tone to things and how her music always makes me feel happy or in a mood to even just attempt to "dance".

In Your Eyes (2002)

In early 2002, there was a lot going on in my head. I was leading two lives - one as the good son and college student and the other as the budding gay man trying to explore the world around him. I had already had my fair share of good experiences and really bad encounters. Well okay, maybe not that fair since I could still count my encounters on one hand.

Love At First Sight (2002)

By mid-2002, I was finally in a relationship, and thus I finally started to listen to the lyrics of songs more. I guess it all seemed too perfect - I had finally found a man I could say that I loved and who loved me. Sure, we hardly got to see one another except maybe for a chance meeting once or twice a month, those were some of the greatest moments of my boring academic life. While it wasn't necessarily love at first sight for us, there was definitely something there, a spark that we were now trying to explore and hope to understand together.

Come Into My World (2002)

This was a nice return to the video that made me first notice her. Like "Did It Again", "Come Into My World" featured a skillfully conceptualized video executed in a very great manner. Plus during this period, I was headily in love (or maybe lust at this point) and was doing everything that I could to find more time to be with my boyfriend. I guess I wanted him to be more and more in my world too.

Slow (2003)

By late 2003, I had already left home and was struggling to begin a life with my partner. Circumstances had us living together in a period of time that many would consider to be rather soon. As we did our best to make ends meet, access to cable TV was rather limited and "Slow" was the only song from her Body Language album. Not that this was a bad single to catch - the video was just awesome and for a now openly gay man, it was rather self-indulgent to enjoy it.

There was a time when Kylie left me alone to develop my relationship with my partner. She had a few other singles that came out in this time, but I guess I was never able to catch the videos. I feel kind of bad about it - perhaps in a way I had left her behind, as I had done to many other friends of mine at the time. My partner was my life and I kind of decided (consciously or otherwise) to dedicate most of my time to him.

2 Hearts (2007)

Of course she had her own struggles to deal with during the intervening years. In 2005 she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and thus she had to focus on that as much as I was building a life. But we were reunited come late 2007 with "2 Hearts", the first single from her new Kylie X album. It was nice to hear her again and I made sure that I had a copy of her new album as soon as it was available. And then I saw her again in the Doctor Who Christmas special, "Voyage of the Damned", the second time I had seen her act apart from her role in Moulin Rouge.

Wow (2008)

In early 2008 I had to go to the US for 10 weeks for work, and it was both a fun time and a depressing time. It was my first time away from my partner for such a significant period of time and I hadn't fully realized how much of my life was tied to him. So I was totally surprised when I encountered her new video when I tried one of the West Hollywood bars on my own. She was my companion while out there and she certainly helped me feel better and somehow still connected to my friends and family back at home.

So when I came back home, Kylie was fully back in my life and my companion on the dance floor. While I always felt the DJs never seemed to play her music as much as I wanted, at least I still heard her songs from time to time.

All The Lovers (2010)

Now Kylie has a new album and it has found me in a new relationship. Her first single certainly struck a chord with me as somehow describing some of my feelings in my new relationship. I don't mean this as an insult for my previous relationship - just as a statement of love and affection given how amazing my partner makes me feel. The timing was just impeccable - this single debuted around the time of our first year anniversary, a turning point that helped mark our growing comfort with one another. The first year of any relationship is filled with a lot of compromising and adjusting as two people learn to really connect with one another on all the pertinent levels. Once past that, then the real life of love can begin.

It's a horrible shame though that a good friend (and a fellow Kylie lover) died at the end of last year. It was another blow to my resolve that took me some time to recover from and Kylie's music always helps me remember the good times with him. I get a tad weepy at times too - so much of her music eventually became associated with him as well, but I do my best to throw my head back and just dance. It's what he would have wanted anyway.

Get Outta My Way (2010)

And now we've come full circle - back to the latest release that has inspired this little introspective entry. Frankly, I love how this song is just so damn danceable and just hearing the chorus has me wanting to raise my arms and start moving to the beat. In hindsight though, the lyrics themselves are a tad interesting. I suppose that I could draw some familiarity / association with the sentiment, which is something like what I felt when I broke it off with my prior partner. It wasn't as bitter mind you, but more a realization that I wasn't as happy as I could have been.

This could count as one of those Oprah-style realization moments. As much as I always hated it when people would ultimately blame the end of my 7-year relationship on a "third party", I suppose I have come to accept that this is true. In the same way how no one actually dies of old age, but instead dies of cardiac arrest or organ failure, so too did my past relationship. It's not a reason anyone would typically want to admit to, but it's a true enough statement and I shouldn't be one to hide that fact.

Kylie has been with me throughout the bulk of my gay life. The good times and the bad, she always seems to have a song that makes me smile or remember a fond memory. The beat always invites me back to the dance floor and ignore the fact that there are hundreds upon thousands of other guys who are younger, hotter or more physically fit than me and just dance my heart out. Her music has kept me positive and motivated and always doing my best to keep moving forward, living my life without regrets.

Thank you for all your music and your passion for your art, Kylie. More power to you and all your endeavors and may we all find the love we want and deserve. That's always been your biggest lesson for me and with luck other people will realize this too.

Now when the heck is someone going to stage a Kylie-thon? We so need one!
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