Jay Brannan, who you may remember I blogged about in my inaugural Noctuary post, has just released his amazing new single ‘Greatest Hits’ digitally and I wanted to share.
My favourite line? “You may never be happy, but I still see your worth.” These are words you long to hear, when you’re an abject cynic. Anyway I love this song, I’m gutted I couldn’t make Jay’s only London gig this year and I think you should buy this. If any of you want to get me a Christmas present too- I’d like this please:
In seriousness though, this is an important song. It’s an independent release by an original artist in 2011, no mean feat in itself, and it is a beautiful paradox- tragic affirmation. A digital acquaintance of mine, on hearing Greatest Hits for the first time, immediately recalled last year’s East London Pride when a MtF barmaid described being beaten up in her way through town that day. Even in Britain, even today, hate-fuelled violence against LGBT people (especially the T, for the inescapable crime of being visible) is a real and tangible threat to the safety of our citizenry. Brannan sings of taking knocks for being himself, for saying ‘fuck you’ to those who seek to disparage him and knowing that he is in the right. He takes strength from the knowledge that he is not subsuming himself to appease the mass sensibility, or the minority of thugs; the blood spilt is testament to his bravery and defiance. This sounds like a paean to the Stonewall rioters to me, but recalling his resistance not only to middle America’s homophobia, but homoAmerica’s insistence he is their bard, the lyric “I don’t sing for the rainbow, cos I taste the rain” takes on layers of meaning. This song is Brannan’s triumph, Jay’s pain, and his alone, it is not a clarion call to the Queer Diaspora to rise up, or to endure violence on their streets.
To me Greatest Hits says ‘none of you may claim me, whoever you may be, I am my own man and I have shed my blood to earn that right.’ In timeless tradition the gay community may well appropriate the track for their own use, but I think in many ways, this is Brannan’s definitive note of resistance to being claimed and put up as an icon. The line drawn under the debate I chewed over in FU no Q.