Tuesday, November 02, 2010
It was 1992 when the pride of Consort, Alberta, revealed that she was a lesbian; soon enough the same town that had once praised her shamed itself with hateful graffiti... The place that had already defamed itself once before - when lang came out as a vegetarian - did it all over again, only this time with homophobia. Footage of a billboard featuring her picture scrawled with the words 'Eat Beef Dyke' was shown all over the world.
k. d. lang was one of the first big stars to come out mid-career, and to do so involved a terrible risk; career suicide is what people (usually 'straight' record executives - if they can be considered people) called it. Small town and corporate bigots alike be damned; Ingénue became her biggest selling album to date, and Constant Craving was the biggest single on it. Suddenly the shame of Consort, Alberta, was the pride of the world.
It was the end of May; I remember because the issue of The Advocate in which she came out - now one of the most sacred relics in the collection of the Pop Culture Institute - was (and still is) dated June 3rd. I was then co-hosting a show at Dalhousie University's CKDU-Radio called The Word Is Out, when the producer - the inimitable Brenda Barnes (which, with a Halifax accent, is one hell of a name) - called me half off her nut with excitement to break the news.
I suggested that we should host a coming out party for k. d., she loved the idea, and so that's what we did; I quickly came up with a playlist of songs both old and new, wrote some thoughtful but humourous commentary to intersperse between them, and together we produced a half hour of college radio gold. Unwittingly - and more than a dozen years before the Pop Culture Institute was born - its style emerged, fully-formed and rarin' to go.
Not unlike k. d. lang herself, I might add, who emerged not so fully formed but still rarin' to go on this day in 1961.
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