Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Subverting Pop Culture One Song At A Time

Written by Shane Smith, Editor, Stonewall Gazette

December 8, 2017 was a celebratory day for gay Australians - the Marriage Amendment bill received royal assent and went into effect the following day. The fight for LGBT rights has always been an uphill battle so it was great to see so many allies publicly supporting marriage equality in Australia.

Boy George with kids from the YMCA.   Photo Credit: John Appleyard

One such ally is the YMCA. They've been leading the way in helping Australian youth in areas affecting their lives such as mental health and unemployment. Last summer, as part of their Why Not? campaign, they released a cover version of YMCA.

The iconic 70's Village People tune was sung by Boy George. Initially he was hesitant to do the track. “I thought absolutely not. How could you cover that song? The thing about covering songs, you have to get inside the song and see if it works and when I started to listen to the lyrics they were weirdly revealing.”

Back in 1978 when the Village People released the song YMCA the gay community experienced the lyrics from a completely different perspective than a straight person. When young gay men fled small towns and headed for the big city they'd find companionship and community at the YMCA. Gay men quite literally would be able to 'hang out with all the boys' and explore their sexuality.

The YMCA was a place for gay men to network and in many ways it helped make the gay community thrive. I love the fact that almost 40 years later the song YMCA is being subverted once again and is being used as an anthem to empower today's youth.

Boy George emotionally connects to the lyrics and thus makes the song his own. It's a stripped down version with a lot of heart and soul. I quite enjoy it and I hope you do, too! Watch the video below.

Follow Boy George on Twitter

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