When Gay Culture Goes Mainstream

Listening to Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Relax” the other day it occurred to me that there are times when something popular in gay culture makes it to the mainstream without straight people being aware. While the homosexuality of members of the group were hardly a secret, I really don’t think most women in the 20s who were wearing “Frankie Says Relax” t-shirts in the 1980s were aware of that fact.

I’m just curious, for those of you who had very little knowledge of gay culture, was there anything you liked that you later became surprised to learn was connected to gay culture? For our LGBT folk, how did you feel when something from your community became popular in the mainstream?


PS: For those who might be offended by the idea of a gay culture, well, I don’t know what else to call it. Nor am I trying to lump all LGBT people into one big lump.

Foam parties started out as a gay bar thing, and a rather racy one at that. Now they’re so mainstream that some high schools have them (albeit with more clothes and less touching). It doesn’t bother me in the least.

How’bout the band Queen? Freddy Mercury was about as queer as they get, and nobody gave a shit because of his pure, concentrated awesome.

The Wizard of Oz.

I remain unclear on the gay-culture connection (not even the Munchkins look all that swishy), but apparently it’s obvious to gays.

Does “gay culture” encompass anything any gay artist does ever, or does it have more specific defining characteristics?

Virtually everything in our culture that had to be “created” can be traced back to either gays or blacks. The rest of you guys are just sheep.


I hate to keep bringing up Justin Bieber but I think you’ll get a yuk out of this.

For some reason his (adult) stylist has had him sporting a scarf or hankie out of his pocket for maybe two years now. For someone who is supposedly straight he certainly is into fisting/anal/watersports/etc. Whooooosh!

The handkerchief/pocket thing hasn’t been a gay thing since the 70’s. In the 80’s it turned into single earrings but now that’s faded out too.

Wasn’t the entire rave scene of the '90s, which had a profound effect on UK culture, straight out of NYC gay clubs?

Why do it then? It looks stoopid!

Yup, I came of age in the “Left is right, right is wrong” era. Now everyone pierces everything as soon as possible.

And everything claimed by blacks or gays, can be traced back to someone else. That’s the one thing about the Internet, no matter what you think you invented or started, someone else always was there before, in one way or another

YMCA and the Village People in general.

Regarding The Wizard of Oz, the gay community at the time really loved Judy Garland. In addition, the general plot of the movie can be seen as a parallel to the struggle of being gay in a world where that wasn’t accepted. Unhappy person living in a drab world searches for and finds a bright, colorful place where she can express herself = pretty much the gay dream at that point (and still is).

It’s my understanding that this movie is only a gay icon (well, to the extent that it is) because of a fan base that attached to the lead actress decades later.

Well, there is the incredibly swishy Tin Man, and that Lion is a sissy.

Now wait: the French Revolution was definitely started by frumpy straight women, but by the time it evolved into the Napoleonic Wars, yes; it was high camp.

Tesla invented it, then the gays and blacks made is popular.

I was surprised to see our whole childrens swim team, like 150 kids, singing and acting out YMCA. A very peppy tune and the kids love it but what adult thought this would be a good song for kids to sing?

It would mean something that gay people did that straight people didn’t. Or things that are really popular amongst gay people, but not amongst straight people. It’s the same thing as anything else that goes from the niche to mainstream. Gay culture is like hippie culture which is like goth culture which is like…

So, pet rocks, the macarana, cheeze whiz, planking, beer pong, parkour, feng shui, metrosexuality, microprocessors, tupperware parties, SUVs, atomic submarines … all gay! I see! And you WONDER why conservatives view gay culture with alarm! Of course, a gay probably came up with schools to teach not-gayness, too! I hope you’re proud of yourselves!

While the group used “gay culture” as a starting point, at least half of The Village People were straight and “YMCA” was not written about gay men.