Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Story Behind the Secret & Groundbreaking Gay Album from 1962

Written by Jim Farber

More than 50 years ago, an album appeared that let the love that dare not speak its name sing out loud. The man who voiced the male-to-male love songs contained on the album wasn’t identified on the cover. Neither were the musicians who played on it, the man who produced the music, nor the two male figures who lurked in the dark shadows that enveloped the cover. The disc, titled Love Is a Drag in 1962, featured a sincere crooner interpreting American standards previously recorded only by women, like My Man, The Man I Love and Mad About The Boy.

WATCH VIDEO: "The Boy Next Door," from Love is a Drag (1962)

“At a time when gay people were deep in the closet, here was an album for them,” said JD Doyle, a record archivist. “There was nothing to compare with it.”

There was also no information about it – at least not until recently. For decades, Love Is a Drag was listed in various cult publications aimed at collectors. But those listings never gave credit to the singer or included an original release date for the disc. Doyle, a collector of records relevant to LGBT history, first saw mentions of the mysterious album back in the 90s and became intrigued. He believes it’s the first full-length recording of male-to-male love songs.

In 2004, Doyle started playing cuts from the album on a monthly Public Radio segment he hosted in Houston titled Queer Music Heritage. His dream? To finally discover the odd disc’s backstory. A “Eureka!” moment arrived in 2012 when the album’s producer, Murray Garrett, emailed him after discovering that Doyle had written about the music on his website. “Murray was in his late 80s then and he was looking back at his life,” Doyle said. “To have him email me was like the Holy Grail knocking at my door.” READ MORE

WATCH VIDEO: "Bill" from Love is a Drag (1962)

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