After reading Rich‘s excellent blog post, Madonna and Me, about his life-long experiences regarding Madonna, I felt compelled to share it (go read it!! It’s excellent!), and say something (well, a lot of somethings) about how it eerily mirrors my own feelings, and the reasons behind those feelings, about her.
I have always had a “thing” against Madonna, which is noticeably strange for someone who loves pop music as much as I do (seriously… two words: Britney Spears). I find it interesting, that it wasn’t until I read his post, that I put two and two together, and realize that I think at least a portion of my history of “hate” for Madonna comes from not wanting to like her because of who she is and what she represents.
For one, Madonna, like it or not, has a strong affiliation with the “idea” of being gay. I remember school when I was younger, and it was pretty much a given that on any day, I was going to be called a faggot/ sissy/ girl/ pussy/ fag at some point by someone; regardless of whether or not I was “queeny”, “faggy”, “girly”, or overtly “homosexual” in the slightest. It was just the way it was. It was my reality from pretty much the first day of elementary school, on up through the end of high school (even though it continued in college, it was noticeably changed). As a result, I tried really, really hard to stay away from anything that would further label me as what I was; and unfortunately, exactly what I didn’t want to be in any way, shape, or form. When those kids were calling me whatever their chosen gay-indicative expletive of the day was, they were labeling me as gay, and at the same time, indicating that being gay was not only “not okay”, but that it was really, really bad. As such, being gay was the last thing on the planet I wanted to be, even though I was; talk about inner conflict.
I remember when I was in middle school, and the song Vogue became popular, and a friend of mine named Nikki did the entire dance routine for our gym class during “dance week” (whoever thought that was a good idea should be tortured, because I got teased incessantly because of my even being preset that week). I remember loving the song, and really liking her performance, but I found myself cowardly wanting to shun Nikki for doing her dance, and in effect, distance myself from liking anything about it. I honestly think that this moment really shaped how I would feel about Madonna up until this very moment.
There is a part of me that definitely, whether I want to admit it or not, STILL has a shred of disdain for the fact that I am gay. Now, that is not to say that I “don’t like who I am”, or that I “hate myself for being gay”, because those vastly overstep the boundary of this disdain of which I speak. I’m saying that there is a part of me that dislikes the fact that I am the very thing that many people out there consider to be bad, wrong, and love to express their hatred for; which comes from growing up with people berating me with this very sentiment day in and day out. When I am riding in my car with the widows down, and I am playing something especially “gay”, I still always turn it down when someone pulls up next to me. There is something in me that will always remain guarded, and as such, I try to hide the fact that I am gay to random strangers sometimes. It sounds completely stupid when I say it out loud, but this is an example of the part of me that wants to hide the fact that I am gay, because of that disdain I have for it; which again, stems from being made fun of and judged as a child. The shitty part, is that I always find myself doing it again, because that disdain (however small it may be) lives on.
I realize now, that I have written off my feelings about Madonna as “hatred”, because other gay men seemingly follow her every foot step, and hang on her every word, and that disdain in me made me want to distance myself from anything that would paint me as so overtly gay. As I read Rich’s post, I found myself back in that auditorium, watching Nikki bravely perform to Vogue, wishing I could be as brave as she, but cowardly wishing that no one would see me enjoying her performance, for fear that I would be further berated for being a fag.
I hate that I let myself think this way, and I hate even more that this disdain exists within me, but at least I realize that I cannot let it make judgments about things such as liking Madonna for the rest of my life. Even though this is a small step towards totally making the aforementioned realization a reality, today I have identified the fact that my disdain for Madonna represents (at least in part) my personal turmoil with being gay, and the conflict I have had with it for as long as I can remember. I disliked her, openly hated her, and even mocked her because of what she represents and who she is. Yet the fact still remainded that Madonna is a woman who can do what she wants, and doesn’t get called a faggot because she takes dance classes, and enjoys extremely “gay”, poptastic music. She is a woman who has constantly put herself out there as a symbol of something “gay”, and while other gay men have lopped up everything she offered, I realize that I have shunned her because of what it would mean if I grabbed my spoon and joined the feast. Instead of hating her music, or disliking her as a person, I have been disliking what “liking her” would mean all of these years.
I have to say, that I didn’t expect a blog post about Madonna to open my eyes to something this deep, but I guess it goes to show that you never know who is going to turn a mirror on you, and show you who you really are inside. I hope that I can work on eliminating all final shreds of disdain for who I am someday; because I think that I would be a much happier person as a result. Now, one thing is for sure, I am going to go and enjoy some fucking Madonna; because save Ray of Light, she made had some great music, and it is high time I get caught up!
Finally, I want to extend a huge thank you to Rich for his post; great work all around.