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. Below, morgxn writes about “We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off” singer Jermaine Stewart.
I’m writing this from inside my mom’s apartment in Nashville, Tennessee. It is the same building where my grandparents used to live and just down the street from where i grew up. 37205 for life — my whole world was connected to these four suburban blocks. I had my first bruises and my first kisses in these woods. It was not easy feeling like I was different in a place like this — but it’s why I escaped inside the music. It’s why I was drawn to artists who, I didn’t realize at the time, experienced a kind of pain that made me feel less alone. I’m not saying Dave Matthews never experienced pain, or that I experienced the same kind of pain…
But I knew I was different and drawn to a different kind of chord. Jermaine Stewart had this voice that could break you down and build you back up at the same time. He made me feel his heart and made me feel that I was okay in being myself.
I never knew anything about him or his life — the internet wasn’t more than a dial-up tone for me those days. But recently, my friend David gave me more of a background to the music that I loved so much. Jermaine died from complications related to AIDS — and his legacy lives on.
It’s made me think about his music differently — how even the use of pronouns has shifted so much in pop music these days. In his song “Out to Punish,” he used pronouns like “she” — probably because he didn’t have any other choice. The freedoms we experience are because musicians like Jermaine came before us.
I celebrate his voice and his spirit through my own. Just thinking about him inspires me. His album Frantic Romantic is on heavy rotation while we are on the road this month.
Catch morgxn on tour, opening for Great Good Fine Ok:
Saturday, June 10 – Atlanta at Masquerade Purgatory Stage
Sunday, June 11 – Asheville, NC at The Mothlight
Tuesday, June 13 – Columbia, SC at New Brookland Tavern
Wednesday, June 14 – Durham, NC at Pinhook
Thursday, June 15 – Washington D.C. at Rock n Roll Hotel
Friday, June 16 – Brooklyn, NY at Rough Trade
Saturday, June 17 – New York, NY at Bowery Ballroom