When I consider Gay Icons, should I consider Patti LaBelle? I am going to confess that I have never really followed Labelle & I have none of her music in my collection, even when I have enjoyed seeing her on TV, even if she scares me a bit.
I need to reconsider Labelle. The Grammy-winning diva has survived 45+ years in the music industry while never losing support from the gay community. LaBelle: "That's why I think I'm still in this business," she explains, "because my gay following keeps me going. I'm every gay man's mother—come and sit on mama's lap! It ain't no sugarmama stuff either… they just really connect. Maybe because I looked like a drag queen back in the day & I still can go there if I want. When I wore those outrageous hairstyles, I guess they said, ‘She's really out.’ I'm not a gay woman; I'm just a woman who loves people.”
“Gay people, they can keep you in style. You better have a queen up there in that closet, honey. Trust me: It's not that only gay people have style. I'm straight & I have style. I can dress myself, but it's good to have a queen with a great eye. Most straight men can't do hair, they can't do makeup & they can't be a stylist. I don't know if there are any lesbian stylists, but it's usually men who want to emulate a woman. I know some of my gay friends, they make their faces up & they put on drag. Like RuPaul: you can’t find a woman that looks as good as RuPaul... not many! So they practice what they preach. That's why, honey, if you say a straight man is coming to do my hair or my face…leave them home!”
LaBelle turns 68 years old on this day- May 24th. Today also marks the birthday of Bob Dylan, turning 72 today, who is decidedly not gay, or in any way a Gay Icon, but a favorite at Post Apocalyptic Bohemia. So I have paired them together, LaBelle doing Dylan: