Look around, everywhere you turn is heartache. It’s everywhere that you go.
Last night I was idly surfing the web as I waited for today’s video to upload. I noticed a New York Times article titled, “In Suburb, Battle Goes Public on Bullying of Gay Students.”
You try everything you can to escape the pain of life that you know.
The article was about Anoka, the largest school district in Minnesota, which has a pervasive bullying problem that focuses on students that are perceived to be gay or lesbian, or come from LGBT homes.
(Apropos of nothing (or everything) the district is partially situated in Representative Bachmann’s Congressional district.)
Several students and their families have brought a lawsuit against the district, in part charging that, “district staff members, when they witnessed or heard reports of antigay harassment, tended to ‘ignore, minimize, dismiss, or in some instances, to blame the victim for the other students’ abusive behavior.”
When all else fails and you long to be something better than you are today…
The Anoka School District has seen eight suicides in the past two years. At least two of the students were gay, and possibly half of them had been known subjects of LGBT-focused bullying.
I know a place where you can get away: it’s called a dance floor, and here’s what it’s for.
Now the parents, families, and friends of these children will have their young image suspended forever in time, ageless and smiling, a pose that can never be unstruck.
Come on, vogue.
All you need is your own imagination – so use it that’s what it’s for.
I don’t think it’s a spoiler to confess that I have plans for Madonna’s catalog for beyond this 30 for 30 Project, which is why I’ve been studiously avoiding her hits thus far. However, when it came to 1990 my list kept coming back to “Vogue.”
I tried to choose another song for 1990. I really did. Fans on Twitter suggested “Nothing Compares 2 U.” I spent a day trying to cover it, but I simply hate the song. I’m unable to let go of my eight-year-old’s obsession with the fact that it was ensconced at number one for five weeks while the more deserving “Vogue” waited patiently for its spot at the top.
Go inside for your finest inspiration. Your dreams will open the door.
I decided that if I was going to let Madonna into this project, I couldn’t try for perfection. My cover had to be something else entirely. In the spirit of the Material Girl, I turned it into a deliberately silly game of dress-up, donning some of my still-surviving (and surprisingly fitting) glam clothes from high school and doing a bit of dancing.
If I had read the article a day or two ago you might be watching a very different version of “Vogue” in this post. Something nearer to “Nothing Compares” – a dirge-like ballad that merges sorrow and joy.
Maybe I’ll still record it that way. For now, you get this ridiculousness. I hope you enjoy it.
(Watch me cover “Vogue” on YouTube. For more info on my 30 for 30 Project, visit my intro post or view the 30for30 tag for all of the related posts.)
It makes no difference if you’re black or white, if you’re a boy or a girl.
Take a long look at what I’m wearing in the video. That’s what I wore to high school, daily.
One of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit is a 14-year-old boy named Kyle Rooker, who is perceived by bullies as being gay because he wears glittering accessories and belts out Lady Gaga tunes in his school’s halls. He’s been subjected to humiliating bullying that the school has done little to stop. Beyond that, teachers are under strict orders not to teach or speak on gay rights, history, or acceptance – thanks to a large Christian influence on the district’s policies.
If the music’s pumping, it will give you new life.
In my born again Christian grade school I was a tiny stick-figure of a boy who hated playing sports and carried around a cassette tape case full of Madonna. It wasn’t the reason I was mercilessly teased and bullied, but I’m sure it wasn’t helping.
In middle school all the other boys said I walked with a switch and teased me because of how I cross my legs. It was the first time I ever heard the word “gay” slung as an insult. I changed the way I walked, but kept crossing my legs.
You’re a superstar.
In high school I wore skin-tight vinyl and body glitter, and painted my lips pale white – all to attend calculus class. Once in high school an older kid shoved me up against a locker, trying to intimidate me. I told him to go fuck himself.
Yes, that’s what you are.
In college I started to wear tight, low-rise jeans and stylish button-up shirts. Once at a party I mentioned I had worked as a summer camp counselor, and a guy said, “I thought people like you weren’t be allowed to work with little boys.” Ross offered to kill him for me, but I declined.
You know it.
Three years ago a neighbor defaced and vandalized the front of our house because I – the “queer” – got too fresh with him.
Men sometimes harass or threaten me from passing cars if I walk a certain way. I still won’t play the open mics at some bars because I know they won’t like it when I cover Madonna.
Come on, vogue.
Beauty’s where you find it, not just where you bump and grind it.
It has always been a fact of my life that being who I am and saying what I feel gets me teased and bullied. That’s fine. I’m strong, and I don’t have to contend with the stigma of half a nation being set against my love life like some of my friends do, so hit me with your best shot.
I don’t know what I would do in Kyle’s place. Stop being me? Ditch the sparkles and singing and try to be more of a boy?
I don’t know. I hope he’s singing “Born This Way” in his bullies’ faces at the top of his lungs.
Soul is in the musical – that’s what I feel so beautiful. Magical. Life’s a ball.
In June of 1990 my mother took me to see Madonna’s Blonde Ambition tour as a reward for doing well in third grade. She was my favorite pop star.
So get out on the dancefloor.
We sat next to a pair of men who, in retrospect, were clearly a gay couple. I didn’t care. I thought it was cool that two older boys liked Madonna as much as I did. They thought it was cool an eight-year-old boy wanted to see Madonna and his mom decided to let him. Madonna closed the show with “Vogue.” All four of us were happy.
Come on, vogue.
It gets worse and then it gets better.
Let your body move to the music.