The alarm went off this morning super early because it’s a special day.
And I heard,
The Kink’s Lola is my first memory of understanding the utter humanity and normality of what we would now call the LGBT movement…. or–as I like to say–of many dear friends of mine.
The song came out in 1970, was a huge hit, and was also censored in various places around the world–I’M LOOKING AT YOU, AUSTRALIA.
I didn’t really consciously remember hearing it until the 1980’s and I probably didn’t think about the lyrics–or closely listen to them, until 8th grade or so–so maybe 1985-86.
But then I did listen to it–and yes, it was radical and life-changing. It changed my life. It didn’t make me gay –I’m pretty boringly straight–but it changed my life because it made me see something.
It made me see the humanity of a group of people that were never spoken of, never addressed, and never, ever treated as anything other than something wrong and unspeakable.
This wasn’t taught to me by anyone–and it wasn’t something that my parents or family did (other than just not talking about it). Rather, it was something that was just “clear” and something that you learned in your education on the playground.
We all avoided being a “faggot” or a “fucking queer”–some of the worst of all insults.
Lola changed that. It didn’t change it by preaching. It changed it by merely presenting Lola as a human–a human like any other. A human who loved and liked. A human seeking the company of another human. A human seeking intimacy and kindness–and one wanting to give those as well.
That was radical as fuck.
Not that I suddenly became a full-blown advocate for LGBT rights at that moment. Not at all. But the seed had been planted. The logic–or rather–let’s be honest–the bullshit lies and fear that I had learned by cultural osmosis that would make me want to hate and separate myself from LGBT folk was made transparent. I realized that it didn’t make me stronger to fear anyone because of this–it made me weaker.
And that would be stupid.
A few years after that–I would meet my first gay man officially through a much more enlightened friend. Then in college I would have a manager and friend who let me know he was gay.. and we are friends still.
Being LGBT became a non-thing for me. Or rather–it became just another facet of this complicated world we live in.
But it did become a cause for me in the sense that I have always believed in equality for everyone–and to see inequality and unfair treatment doled out to these other humans for no other reason than the person they loved–well, that’s just fucking bullshit.
In the end, Lola changed me. Perhaps she helped make me a man too.
Moments like this matter–and culture–as conservatives like to talk about–that does matter too. This song did immense cultural work upon me–it made me a better human–because it provided a crucial–if also incredibly ordinary–example of the humanity of so many humans that I like and love.
Although I happen to be straight–Lola was a coming out moment–not for me in specific–but for all of us in general. And every time I have a friend in the LGBT community who finds the courage to come out and show the world that “we’re all just folk…” here–that makes the world a better place–and I will always applaud them for it–both in my head, and to anyone within earshot.