10 music videos from the '70s and '80s with LGBTQ+ references

We all know the importance of representativeness in the audiovisual industry, more specifically in the movies, series... And what about music videos? In the last decade, we had a boom in music videos with LGBTQ+ subjects, but the beginning of everything was back there in the '70s! And the precursor is the music video of "YMCA", one of the greatest gay anthems of all time! Check out 10 music videos from the '70s and '80s with LGBTQ+ references!  

YMCA - Village People 

We start with one of the greatest gay anthems of all time: "YMCA" from Village People! Launched in 1978, the video shows the band members performing on the streets of New York in their traditional clothes that evoked symbols of masculinity: a policeman, a Native American, a cowboy, a construction worker, a soldier and a biker. And for those who still don't know, YMCA is the acronym for "Young Men's Christian Association," which also provided cheap housing. The music alludes to the habit of homosexuals of that time to go there to meet other boys. "It's fun to stay at the YMCA... They have everything for you men to enjoy... You can hang out with all the boys..." 

Boys Keep Swinging - David Bowie 

In 1979, chameleonic David Bowie launched "Boys Keep Swinging", showing signs of the gender deconstruction for which he would be known in the future. In the music video, besides performing himself, singing, he dressed as three women, the backing vocals, which in the end appear on stage. While the first two take off their wig and lipstick, revealing their identity, the third sends a kiss to the camera... The song, although at first sight seems to be an exaltation of masculinity, addresses the privileges that men have by the simple fact of being men. Because of the video, the song was vetoed in the United States and was not released in the country. 

Physical - Olivia Newton-John 

"Physical", by singer Olivia Newton-John, released in 1981, is full of homoerotic scenes, with several half-naked muscular men doing physical exercises. Also, in the end, some of them hold hands and go to another room in search of greater intimacy, if you know what I mean... Oh, and if you didn't know it, the music is a reference for "Physical", by diva Dua Lipa!

Elton's Song - Elton John

"Elton's Song" is part of the album "The Fox", released in 1981. As the lyrics approached a teenager's passion for another boy, that is, it made reference to homosexuality, the track was banned on radios in several countries. The music video, which transposes the song to a boys' school and shows the platonic love portrayed in the lyrics, was considered very explicit for the time and was never shown on TV.

It's Raining Men - The Weather Girls

"It's Raining Men" is another anthem from the gay community! The eccentric video, launched in 1982, shows several men in sunglasses rolling and performing with umbrellas! A curiosity: as it was a low budget video, it was recorded in an abandoned New York building and they used the mattresses that were there. Then they discovered they were infested with bedbugs and the singers were scratching themselves for several days! Oh, and another curiosity, now about the song: before it got into the hands of The Weather Girls, it was offered to Donna Summer, Diana Ross, Cher, and Barbra Streisand, but they all refused! They must have been sorry, huh?! "It's raining men, hallelujah, it's raining men, amen!"

Relax - Frankie Goes To Hollywood

In 1983, the British band Frankie Goes To Hollywood released the controversial video of the song "Relax". Being set in a gay sadomasochistic club, with some scenes simulating sex and ejaculation, the video was eventually banned from MTV and the BBC, and the group had to record another video. The lyrics themselves were also considered pornographic. "I'm coming, I'm coming, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah..." But it was a sucess, though, reaching the top of the charts! 

Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) - Eurythmics 

Also in 1983, the British duo Eurythmics, formed by Annie Lennox and David A. Stewart, released "Sweet Dreams". In the music video, we have a super androgynous Annie, with short orange hair and wearing a male suit, deconstructing gender stereotypes. The song was a success and made the duo internationally famous! 

I Want to Break Free - Queen

In 1984, the wonderful band Queen released the video of "I Want to Break Free", with its members dressed as women. Freddie Mercury, in a miniskirt, in the role of a housewife, performs the domestic chores. The singer also appears shirtless in some scenes and interacting with dancers of both genders in others. In addition, the lyrics of the song, "I want to break free", allows different interpretations, although Freddie has told in an interview that it was not a reference to homosexuality and coming out. But, if I want to see it like that, let me do it, ok?! I want to break free!

Smalltown Boy - Bronski Beat

In 1984, the British band Bronski Beat, formed by three openly gay boys, released the video of the song "Smalltown Boy", which dealt with the difficulties a young man from the countryside faced, including with his own family: "Mother will never understand why you had to leave, but the answers you seek will never be found at home, the love that you need will never be found at home". In the music video, besides scenes that show this family conflict, we also observe some moments of flirtation with other boys, but unfortunately he ends up getting beaten by them... "You were the one that they'd talk about around town as they put you down," says another part of the song... "Run away, turn away, run away, turn away, run away..."

Domino Dancing - Pet Shop Boys

In 1988, Pet Shop Boys presents us with this video of "Domino Dancing" with a lot of homoeroticism and, for some people, subliminal messages. In the video, set in Puerto Rico, we see a beautiful woman conquering the hearts of two boys, who often appear shirtlesss and, at the climax of the video, fight by the waves of the sea in a kind of wrestling, something that is quite homoerotic for many people... After all, two men together, exhaling testosterone, ouch, it's super hot! But, anyway... The hidden message would be that the video makes a reference to the AIDS epidemic. In the extended version (available here), the woman goes to a cemetery with some flowers and cries. Even the lyrics of the song, "watch them all fall down... domino dancing", would be a metaphor for this first moment of the disease, in which the virus is knocking everyone down, like a domino effect. It's a possible interpretation, right? 

These were the main videos from the '70s and '80s with LGBTQ+ references. It is worth remembering that MTV was launched on August 1st, 1981 in the United States, consolidating the format of music videos that we know today.

By Tiago Elídio...



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