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Jul 15 2018
THE MADONNA OF BOLTON's Author On The Queen Of Pop's Gay Trailblazing Comments (0)

Matt Cain, who has just published his novel The Madonna of Bolton (a gay coming-of-age story with a very Madonna-centric theme), writes about the icon turning 60 next month for The Guardian.

He notes things her diehards have always felt about her, things that differentiate her from previous gay icons ...

For one thing, Madonna was a gay icon who directly and frequently acknowledged her queer followers:

People forget the role Madonna played in o Madonna Bolton Cainpening up gay culture to the mainstream. She wasn’t gay herself, but from the beginning she talked about how gay people were part of her life: her gay mentor, her dance teacher, Christopher Flynn; the artists and photographers she hung around with like Keith Haring and Herb Ritts; the gay dancers she paraded around so proudly in the film In Bed With Madonna. You cannot imagine what it was like to witness her doing that when you were being mercilessly bullied about your sexuality at school, as I was. This was when George Michael, Freddie Mercury and the Pet Shop Boys didn’t dare to come out.

Also, she was an icon without frailty, something most gay icons who had come before exhibited. This is important because she came along as gay people were beginning to shrug off the idea that we were victims of some sort ourselves:

Before Madonna, it felt like all gay icons had been tragic figures. And yes, Madonna had endured great tragedy in her life – her mother died when she was five – but you never saw an ounce of fragility in her. Think of her in that Jean Paul Gaultier basque – it was like a suit of armour. She was all steely defiance and I wanted to channel this to get through the challenges life was throwing at me. Matt Cain Boyz Madonna

Another thing about Madonna is that she is a transitional figure. While gay men have been fully on board with successive non-gay divas (Britney Spears, the furthest thing from gay possible; Gaga, who is apparently bisexual; Miley Cyrus, who has flirted with being non-binary; Ariana Grande), it seems that in the future, more and more of our idols will not just be gay icons but actually gay icons. It'll be interesting to see if hetero divas continue to be our dominant unofficial leaders, but we should never forget the important work Madonna did toward making gayness mainstream-acceptable.

More at The Guardian.

And for more on Cain's thoughts about Madonna and his new book, hit on Boyz.

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