But perhaps it was my immersion in the Southern gospel that made so accessible—the sound of the organ rising on the title track, the stained-glass windows behind Michael’s weary silhouette in the “One More Try” video, the solitary cross in his left ear.I paid rapt attention to the dismantling and appropriation of religious iconography in pop; I sensed, but could not articulate, the connection between the ecstasy of pop and gospel, the sensual possibilities in both.My state senator Jesse Helms vehemently opposed research and called the LGBTQ community “weak, morally sick wretches” and progressives “communists and sick perverts.” I did not have access to high art or progressive political messages.
My friend pressed the arrow button and I could hear the loops of ribbon shuttling around the plastic spools. We had been coached to court desire instead of practice desire.
We listened to Madonna, but I could not relate to her frank sexuality or calculated critiques of marriage.
When my mother was out of the house, I watched the libidinous, blue-toned video for “I Want Your Sex.” George writhes in black, silk sheets with his then-girlfriend Kathy Jeung.
Water splashes onto the arc of her naked back and she lip-syncs the words to the song while tossing her damp hair.
Because I was young, naive, and lived in the Reagan-era South, I took these invitations into the world of heteronormative sex at face value.