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Gay Music Make-Over: the Liner Notes

August 02, 2003

Re "They Can Change Anything, but Lay Off of My 'Blue Suede Shoes,' " Commentary, July 27: I wholeheartedly agree with the broad strokes of Crispin Sartwell's assertion that the Fab 5 of Bravo's "Queer Eye on the Straight Guy" can meddle with his hair, countertops and curtains but not his taste in music. Pop music is how I first realized I was gay. A scrawny 15-year-old, I suddenly noticed the other guys in my all-male Catholic school didn't squeal quite the same way I did when Dusty Springfield or Aretha Franklin came on the radio. They didn't squeal at all. Their response to their idea of great music (the Doors) was to mutter, "Cool."

My sense of otherness was cemented in my freshman year of college when my relentlessly straight roommate played Jethro Tull's "Aqualung" approximately 7,000 times. Meanwhile, my headphones were the sole property of Joni Mitchell. My fondest memory of that year is lighting a candle, gearing up the turntable and reading along as Joni sang about the ladies of the canyon or wanting a river to skate away on. To this day, I remember her lyrics more easily than my own name. As for "Aqualung"? I seem to recall a flute in there somewhere.

Tom O'Leary

Los Angeles

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Cute piece by Sartwell, but does he really think that gay musical tastes are monolithic and that gays don't listen to "Muddy Waters, Hank Williams, Ramones, Burning Spear, Elvis and Eminem" and only listen to "Judy Garland, show tunes, disco, house, techno, glam and opera"? C'mon!

Richard Harris

Los Angeles

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