“Why?” (1984) was merely overtone to my baby queer ears. Fighting for our love is a common enough theme for a song, but then there is the “he” pronoun, the blood, and the contempt. Jimmy Somerville called the album The Age of Consent “a soundtrack for isolated homos everywhere.” There were too many factors that precluded me from acting and thinking the way I wanted. Jimmy’s falsetto could have been my clarion call but it was another “alternative hit” I half-consciously listened to in my bedroom, adding another layer to the impossibility of my being – all my feelings denied… can you tell me why? Jimmy ran away to England when he was 17. When I listen to this song now I am reminded that it’s never too late to be who we want to be. I wanted to be a queer teen, so in my early 20s I ran away to stake out a place to have a proper era. A decade later, I was obsessively listening to “Coming” (his track for the film Orlando) I am coming! I am coming! Here I am! – yes, his voice out of “normal range” guiding me into temporally unfixed queer time.
Stacy Szymaszek is the author of Emptied of All Ships and Hyperglossia, as well as many chapbooks. She is the Artistic Director at The Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church.
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