June is a time to honor the LGBTQ community’s rich history and highlight its remarkable achievements. To celebrate Pride Month, Billboard asked modern music stars to pen essays about their favorite queer icons, and how their sounds, lyrics and overall images influenced a new era of artistry.
As much as I want to say George Michael was a musical influence on me, his influence was actually much deeper for me as a child just hitting puberty around the time Faith came out. I remember clearly being on a road trip with my father who had bought the album on cassette and listening to it while passing through hot dusty vistas of the South West. Up until that album sexuality for me had been something cartoonish and confusing. I had a few bashful moments as a kid where I enjoyed the feeling of wrestling with my shirt off but I remember mostly thinking it was like the feeling of cold sheets against my skin.
However, there was something undeniable about his music and it didn't stop at Faith. As anyone knows, Michael's music has always been quite sexually overt, however for a terrified kid who wanted nothing else but to believe I was "normal," it was that level of overtones that I needed to puncture my skin and plant the seed of truth inside me. Other than the obvious issue of being impossibly attracted to him, I was also terrified of all the feelings he was conjuring up in me. The seed was growing with each listen and I didn't want to water it.