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#BopsBoutBottoming: A Timeline Of Gay Sex In Music

Earlier this year, gay pop star Troye Sivan told The Guardian that “there’s power in living openly and truthfully, while also being gay” and in the era of Trump, this is perhaps more true than ever.

Sivan in particular has never been one to shy away from expressing his sexuality in his music. After he depicted a tragic story of queer love in the “Blue Neighborhood” series, Sivan returned this year with the “gay sounding” track “My My My!”, and a song called “Blossom,” which is supposedly about flowers, but in reality describes the experience of bottoming for the first time in sex.

The young star himself even tweeted the hashtag #BopsBoutBottoming on the day that “Blossom” was released and although he deleted it soon after, the queer community wasn’t about to let it slide, subsequently posting various screenshots and memes on social media. Fellow gay pop star Adam Lambert even told Billboard that he loved the “anthem for bottoms,” explaining how commendable it was that Sivan could be “so brave and cheeky” in the media.

It’s not always been like this though. Long before Troye Sivan went “Wild” and asked boys to “Take a trip into my garden,” gay musicians struggled to sing authentically about their queer experiences on record. In the past, gay themes were often forced to hide under mountains of subtext and songs explicitly written about gay sex were barely heard at all. However, if the LGBTQ community is to live openly and truthfully, this important facet of the queer experience deserves to be explored in music, too. Join us as we slide through the annals of music history and uncover the secret #BopsBoutBottomg, topping and everything in between.

1966: The Tornados – “Do You Come Here Often?”

Secreted away on the record “Is That a Ship I Hear?” is a B-side called “Do You Come Here Often?”, arguably the UK’s “first explicitly gay rock song.” It’s hard to imagine what listeners thought of this track when it first came out given that it’s full of sexual innuendo shared between two men in what is probably a club bathroom.

1967: Brothers Butch – “Kay, Why?”

In the same year that homosexuality was partially decriminalized in Britain, the Brothers Butch released “Kay, Why?”, a risqué song that contained a remarkable amount of double entendres about lubricant and all of its its potential uses.

1969: David Bowie – “The Width of a Circle”

Right around the same time that the first Gay Pride march took place in New York City, glam rock legend David Bowie released a song that included lyrics like “He swallowed his pride and puckered his lips/And showed me the leather belt round his hips.” Honestly, it shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone when he came out as queer during an interview with Melody Maker magazine just three years later.

1975: Tim Curry – “Sweet Transvestite”

Dr. Frank-N-Furter may urge audiences to do “The Time Warp” in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but that’s not all he’s suggesting we do. When he’s not asking us to stay for the night, “or maybe a bite,” the mad scientist also wants to show us the artificial man that he’s been making, one who’s “good for relieving my tension.”

1978: The Village People – “YMCA”

While no explicit mention is made of sex here in this unforgettable gay anthem, it was a well known fact in the gay community that clandestine sexual encounters were commonplace in local YMCAs, which makes the song’s popularity among heterosexual audiences even more bizarre.

1978: Queen – “Don’t Stop Me Now”

Freddie Mercury might have proclaimed himself as the “Great Pretender,” yet his undeniable queerness could often be heard throughout his lyrics, even back in the late ‘70s when he warned the boys that he wanted to “make a supersonic man” out of them.

1980: Pete Townshend – “Rough Boys”

Later interviews have confused the issue of whether this song was a sort of coming out for Townshend or not, but with lyrics like “Tough boys come over here, I wanna bite and kiss you,” it’s safe to say that “Rough Boys” deserves a mention here for it’s raw and frank homoeroticism.

1984: Frankie Goes To Hollywood – “Krisco Kisses”

Frankie Goes to Hollywood became queer icons the moment that they urged us to “Relax” in 1983, but it’s one of their follow-up songs released a year later that ramps things up to the next level. In fact, it’s remarkable that a song about fisting could be so blatant back in the ‘80s with lines such as “You fit me like a glove” and “You can take it up, up, and up.”

1985: Dead or Alive – “You Spin Me (Like A Record)”

It doesn’t get more sexual than LGBTQ pioneer Pete Burns warning us to “Watch out, here I come.”

1986: Pet Shop Boys – “West End Girls”

“Which do you choose, a hard or soft option?” With this one simple lyric, the Pet Shop Boys smashed sexual taboos in UK pop while paving the way for future records that dealt even more explicitly with queer love and sex.

1986: RuPaul – “Sex Freak”

Meanwhile, future drag queen superstar RuPaul broke barriers of her own by performing a spoken word techno song called “Sex Freak” on the cable access program, American Music Show. With no band or budget to speak of, RuPaul sexualized her unique aesthetic onscreen at a time when the idea of a drag-themed show was still decades away from becoming a reality.

1996: Placebo – “Nancy Boy”

As the androgynous posterboy for an entire generation, Brian Molko sent shivers down the spine of the queer community when he sang the immortal line “We’re a couple, when our bodies double,” creating a picture that’s impossible to forget.

1998: George Michael – “Outside”

In the same year that Will & Grace made its TV debut, former Wham! star George Michael used the song “Outside” to satirize the time he was arrested for having sex in a public bathroom. The pop icon dressed up as the undercover policeman who caught him for the accompanying video, lending an even more erotic edge to lines like “Dancing on the D-train baby.”

2001: Limp Wrist – “I Love Hardcore Boys/I Love Boys Hardcore”

The hardcore punk scene isn’t renowned for its queer tendencies, but that didn’t stop the band Limp Wrist from telling us who makes them horny on their debut album. “‘Bi-hawks and studs are really hot / Emo kids whine but I’ll give em a shot /Tight pants skinheads with bodies that stack / This whole damn scene makes my eyes roll back.”

2003: The Hidden Cameras – “Golden Streams”

This Canadian indie band often include queer themes in their music due to the fact that the lead singer is gay himself, but few of their tracks are as explicitly sexual as this ode to the joy of golden showers.

2004: Franz Ferdinand – “Michael”

Even though Alex Kapranos has never stated that he’s queer, the song “Michael” taken from the band’s debut album cements him as an ally, including steamy lyrics like “Sticky hair, sticky hips, stubble on my sticky lips.”

2006: Cazwell – “All Over Your Face”

As one of the earliest gay pop stars to explicitly explore queer sexuality in their music, Cazwell made jaws and drawers drop with lines like, “I’m greasy, grimy, two-timey, butt-sniffing animal / And if I want it, I get it, I’ll eat that ass like a cannibal.”

2007: Jay Brannan – “Body’s A Temple”

Following his role in the queer movie Shortbus, singer-songwriter Jay Brannan released this tender ode to the male form as part of his EP, Unmastered. Avoiding the explicit imagery conjured up by artists like Cazwell, Brannan still incorporates specific references to the body of his male lover in the lyrics.

2010: Scissor Sisters – “Harder You Get”

As their sound developed, the Scissor Sisters dived deeper and deeper into specifically queer themes through their music, something which is perhaps most evident in the S lyrics of this highlight from their third album, Night Work.

2013: Cakes Da Killa – “Get Right (Get Wet)”

In the same year that Proposition 8 was overturned in California, a new vanguard of LGBTQ rappers like Cakes Da Killa and Mykki Blanco began to flip the misogyny of hip-hop on its head by redirecting its focus towards queer sexuality, diving in with lines like “N****s pay my loans just to finger fuck my asshole.”

2014: Fly Young Red – “Throw That Boy Pussy”

Fly Young Red deserves a special mention for queering hip-hop even further around this time with the phrase “boy pussy,” objectifying his male dancers as he spits rhymes like “Hold it open, imma eat it, like a Pacman.”

2015: Years & Years – “Ready For You”

Although gay music has been around in one form or another for decades, it wasn’t until recently that artists like Olly Alexander incorporated male pronouns into their music, adding extra poignance to this surprisingly sexual piano ballad.

2016: Tatianna – “The Same Parts”

Continuing the tradition of drag that Rupaul first helped popularize decades before, Drag Race All Star Tatianna subverted expectations with a spoken word performance that revealed “what you see isn’t always the truth.” Can I get an amen up in here?

2018: Sam Vance-Law – “I Think We Should Take It Fast”

In our year of #20GayTeen, Troye Sivan isn’t the only young prodigy to exalt the joys of gay sex in pop. On the album Homotopia, songwriter Sam Vance-Law switches things up by suggesting that he and his “Prettyboy” take things fast instead of slow. Sure, he might not remember the guy’s name, but there’s nothing wrong with enjoying casual sex and it’s refreshing to hear someone sing about its pleasures so freely for a change.

Tags: Music
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