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AllenLowe

Gay Jazz Musicians

148 posts in this topic

Not judging, just saying... if Oscar Peterson was gay, he did a pretty good job on the other side of the fence - 4 wives, father to seven children (at least). First time I heard that one.

Having babies and marrying multiple times is not at all unusual, especially when one considers Peterson's environment and the fact that we only recently have woken up to reality.

I am currently compiling a list of jazz musicians who might possibly be straight. Please bear with me.

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If a musician chooses to say that he or she is gay, that's fine with me. Otherwise, I have no interest in reading other people's speculation about musicians' sexual preferences.

Thank you. I could not have said it better. This discussion frankly gives me the creeps.

Chris, you're a great guy and we've had warm communications but I've never understood why you repeatedly cast yourself in the role of, well I can't say 'outing' people but reminding people of the sexuality of especially musicians who are no longer with us. It's not helping advance equality for gays mentioning that Ben Webster or anyone else was gay. They are dead and if that was the case lived closeted in those days with what would be certainly have been a terrible secret. Bringing this up now is not going to make them feel better, especially in their current condition. Also, since they are not around to speak for themselves or their privacy I think this rather disrespecful and untoward.

The best way to accept---even honor---someone's sexuality is to ignore it and pay attention instead to the achievements. Listen to the music. It is asexual, great art, speaks to the soul of all kinds of people whatever color,age, sexuality, etc. and that's all you need to know about these people.

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If a musician chooses to say that he or she is gay, that's fine with me. Otherwise, I have no interest in reading other people's speculation about musicians' sexual preferences.

Thank you. I could not have said it better. This discussion frankly gives me the creeps.

Chris, you're a great guy and we've had warm communications but I've never understood why you repeatedly cast yourself in the role of, well I can't say 'outing' people but reminding people of the sexuality of especially musicians who are no longer with us. It's not helping advance equality for gays mentioning that Ben Webster or anyone else was gay. They are dead and if that was the case lived closeted in those days with what would be certainly have been a terrible secret. Bringing this up now is not going to make them feel better, especially in their current condition. Also, since they are not around to speak for themselves or their privacy I think this rather disrespecful and untoward.

The best way to accept---even honor---someone's sexuality is to ignore it and pay attention instead to the achievements. Listen to the music. It is asexual, great art, speaks to the soul of all kinds of people whatever color,age, sexuality, etc. and that's all you need to know about these people.

To be clear, I thought Chris had started this thread, probably because I remember a similar discussion he may or may not have started, mentioning Dizzy, etc. I had the same reaction then. But if Allen started it I still am not backing off what I wrote.

I had a horrible experience many years ago when a motormouth musician (and not a very good one) said in front of many people in a public place that a musician I and many others adore, and is responsible for many of us, propositioned him. He said it in a vulgar way and true or not took me totally by surprise and made me confront my image of this teacher and mentor. Obviously I was confronting my own homophobia too, which I acknowledge. I am not perfect nor am applying for sainthood, but the incident was such a turn-off that I'm super-sensitive to this and especially people's privacy.

I'm not comparing this to that, but this is not the way to advance rights of people of different sexualities than our own. Going to a gig, buying a CD, hiring someone, saying hello because we like their work but more so because they are human just might.

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Whatever way I turn it, I don't understand the sentence I put in bold above. Please explain!

Valerie said "if true". Chris is saying there is no "if" (or "are no ifs") about it (he's asserting that what he said is true).

Thanks Jim - I get it now... was too tired last night!

@Chris: why is "pulling out the old bi-sexual card" "just plain naïve"? So Basie can't have really loved his wife AND be in love with men? Is this an "either-or" thing? Never thought about love that way... interesting concept.

Of course having kids, being married etc. etc. is no proof of anything, that's most well-known, but still...

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Lionel Hampton seemed to smile a lot. He also recorded Gay Notes in 1946.

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I'm also beginning to question the point of this thread...

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The best way to accept---even honor---someone's sexuality is to ignore it and pay attention instead to the achievements. Listen to the music. It is asexual, great art, speaks to the soul of all kinds of people whatever color,age, sexuality, etc. and that's all you need to know about these people.

To say that someone is not gay is to aver that he/she is straight. It is not to ignore their sexuality. To protest when someone is identified as having been gay can be construed as declaring that there is something wrong with being gay.

Perhaps the point of this thread is to generate a discussion that historically has been avoided in jazz circles and to bring awareness to the fact that many jazz musicians have quietly been the victims of bigotry.

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It's an old theme on this board, really. To what extent do the personal lives of musicians bear on the music, and to what extent are they anyone else's business? Those uncomfortable with the thread see it as voyeuristic--oh really, HE was *GAY*?? Wow!--and find that distasteful and--perhaps to coin a new word, "tabloidesque." Others feel that the discussion is itself important to supporting those who have suffered appalling discrimination and may also argue as some have on past threads, that the personal lives and experiences of the musicians help to deepen our understanding of their music. I'm thinking here of past, often heated and controversial, discussions on people like Stan Getz.

It's an interesting conundrum. I find myself caught hopelessly in the middle. I understand the discomfort, but I also can see Chris's point of view as well. I wonder whether it isn't at least somewhat similar to the whole issue of race and much older arguments about how racial discrimination informed the music and how much it mattered that a given musician was or was not African-American. Or not?!

gregmo

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Not judging, just saying... if Oscar Peterson was gay, he did a pretty good job on the other side of the fence - 4 wives, father to seven children (at least). First time I heard that one.

Having babies and marrying multiple times is not at all unusual, especially when one considers Peterson's environment and the fact that we only recently have woken up to reality.

I am currently compiling a list of jazz musicians who might possibly be straight. Please bear with me.

Don't want to continue this much further, but I am trying to understand the terms here. Valerie above says that some of these musicians must be bi-sexual, which would seem to be accurate (assuming there's any merit to some of this, which I'm beginning to doubt quite frankly, and no, I'm not in denial). But Chris, stay with me here, you're saying that if someone is married to a member of the opposite sex for 50+ years (whether one marriage or several), dies married to a member of the opposite sex, fathers children, but also has relations with members of the same sex, that person's not bi-sexual; they're strictly gay??? This is a bridge too far for me.

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i understand it like this: someone who openly has relationships with both males and females, a few months or years of this, then a few of the other, is bisexual - someone who leads a "double-life" being straight, married and all to the outside and while having more or less secret same-sex relationships for fear of whatever should not really be considered bisexual... just like a jazz musician isn't a ... musician as well just because he played a great timpani solo on an album of ... music...

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I remember reading stuff years ago, maybe at JC, or one of the drum newsgroups where there were claims Tony Williams was gay. Crazy, none of these claims changes the fact all were great musicians.

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(munch munch munch)

hahahaha!

I'm told that a lot of jazz musicians were also black. Can anybody confirm? So far I have Miles, Coltrane, Monk, Ellington, Basie, Bird, Armstrong, Kenton. And those are just the well-known names! Anyone else you can think of that might have been black?

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as to WHY this thread - why any open discussion of sexuality? First of all, I would never reveal such things for living musicians - however, to raise the subject is to bring things to light that might make it easier for LIVING people to live openly, because the secret of such things is likely personally difficult and destructive. The attitude of "let's not talk about it" is what has created the issue in the first place.

as to Larry Gushee as my source - I was only making the point that he is to be trusted. Anyone on this board who has not read his work is seriously deficient from an historical standpoint. Larry does not cite things that are fictional. Trust me on that or don't, it's your problem.

And I am straight, as is Gushee - if I wasn't I would post it anywhere. My life is an open book - or Kindle.

Edited by AllenLowe

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To say that someone is not gay is to aver that he/she is straight. It is not to ignore their sexuality. To protest when someone is identified as having been gay can be construed as declaring that there is something wrong with being gay.

Perhaps the point of this thread is to generate a discussion that historically has been avoided in jazz circles and to bring awareness to the fact that many jazz musicians have quietly been the victims of bigotry.

That discussion is already taking place, started by out gay musicians---and mentioned in Allen's OP. That's where courage is needed and should be applauded. If others fear or are uncomfortable for whatever reason being out, that's their journey and no one has the right to 'push' them in the name of progress. That's what I see happening here, or going in that direction (starting with the distasteful outing of the dead). That's heavy-handed meddling.

It reminds me of the way progressives used Lenny Bruce's trials and downfall to see how far they could go challenging obscenity laws and promote free speech, etc. But they didn't give a shit about Bruce and helped destroy him in the process. Other people's trips are just that: their trips and anything that's not directly helping as a friend, i.e. supporting morally or financially in tough times, testifying for or otherwise going to bat for is IMO of very questionable motives and value. And I already told you what I think of outing the dead, who can't speak for themselves. It's disgraceful, and a man of your sensitivity and accomplishment in the jazz world can do much better. Maybe help a gay musician friend conflicted about coming out? Otherwise I really don't understand this and am obviously very turned off.

'Music speaks louder than words'

Charlie Parker

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Joel, I disagree on "outing" the dead - whether it's Rimbaud or Lawrence Olivier and Danny Kaye, Charles Laughton, or Abe Lincoln, Jack Kerouac, and Getrude Stein - it is part of the reality of history and the longer we avoid it the longer we avoid dealing with the living on honest terms.

just my opinion.

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Going upstate for some much-needed R&R today and I wish all my O friends a happy, peaceful holiday weekend, disagreements notwithstanding. Be well Chris and Allen.

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joe - I don't quite get the link - he says he was trying to find Jason and "this is what I found" - but all I see is the old film - nothing new as commissioned -

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allen, you have to click the plus on the right (again and again)

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aha - thanks, Niko, I will click away

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Joel, I disagree on "outing" the dead - whether it's Rimbaud or Lawrence Olivier and Danny Kaye, Charles Laughton, or Abe Lincoln, Jack Kerouac, and Getrude Stein - it is part of the reality of history and the longer we avoid it the longer we avoid dealing with the living on honest terms.

just my opinion.

:tup :tup :tup

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The best way to accept---even honor---someone's sexuality is to ignore it and pay attention instead to the achievements. Listen to the music. It is asexual, great art, speaks to the soul of all kinds of people whatever color,age, sexuality, etc. and that's all you need to know about these people.

I disagree. Ignoring homosexuality makes heterosexuals comfortable and homosexuals invisible. I think "acknowledging", perhaps after the individual is deceased, is different from "outing", while they're still here and vulnerable to the hatred and violence of our world. Also, I don't believe artistry is asexual, it's the culmination of everything the artist is, including their sexuality. To quote Homer Simpson, We're here. We're queer. We don't want anymore bears!

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The only way this thread has any meaning, and is not mere gossip-mongering, is if there i an artistic theory that that ties homosexuality to art in a way that defines that art. In other words, what does the homosexuality of a person have to do with the art he or she created? In some artists, there might be a case to be made (I'm waiting to hear it). Is there some over-arching theory of homosexuality that will tie the music of Benjamin Britten to that of Ben Webster? And why stop at homosexuality? I'm sure that there are heterosexual artists who have/had some astonishing kinks. Do we need to know them to understand their art?

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Not judging, just saying... if Oscar Peterson was gay, he did a pretty good job on the other side of the fence - 4 wives, father to seven children (at least). First time I heard that one.

Having babies and marrying multiple times is not at all unusual, especially when one considers Peterson's environment and the fact that we only recently have woken up to reality.

I am currently compiling a list of jazz musicians who might possibly be straight. Please bear with me.

Don't want to continue this much further, but I am trying to understand the terms here. Valerie above says that some of these musicians must be bi-sexual, which would seem to be accurate (assuming there's any merit to some of this, which I'm beginning to doubt quite frankly, and no, I'm not in denial). But Chris, stay with me here, you're saying that if someone is married to a member of the opposite sex for 50+ years (whether one marriage or several), dies married to a member of the opposite sex, fathers children, but also has relations with members of the same sex, that person's not bi-sexual; they're strictly gay??? This is a bridge too far for me.

i understand it like this: someone who openly has relationships with both males and females, a few months or years of this, then a few of the other, is bisexual - someone who leads a "double-life" being straight, married and all to the outside and while having more or less secret same-sex relationships for fear of whatever should not really be considered bisexual... just like a jazz musician isn't a ... musician as well just because he played a great timpani solo on an album of ... music...

I'm not in denial mode or morally shocked or anything... and I don't mind discussing these questions.

I asked Chris the very same question that John Tapscott rose again - however he seems to ignore it. So...

Niko's explanation makes sense, but my point still is: it can be multi-faceted. You can be married, have affairs with people of both sexes... bi-sexuality exists. I quickly had the impression Chris was in denial-mode regarding bi-sexuality and found that a bit weird, but I guess I'm out of here now.

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well, not everything has a one-to-one relationship. Personally, I find it interesting and illuminating and I don't think we always need an academic rationale to examine people's lives.

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