Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Why Judy Matters

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Why Judy Matters

Article excerpt

April is all about Judy Garland this year, with Turner Classic Movies featuring her films all month and Warner Home Video issuing five of her classic films on DVD--most notably Meet Me in St. Louis, with extras including a new introduction by Liza Minnelli. But isn't Garland a preoccupation of gay generations past? Should younger gay men care? Dave White reflects on his own journey to Judy.

"Crazy pill-popping drunk." That's the most frequent response I receive when I throw out the name Judy Garland to an under-40 group of queer men. And that answer only narrowly noses out "Tragic, pathetic mess who married fags." Why am I totally not surprised that not a single one says anything remotely akin to "Oh. God, I weep when she does 'Over The Rainbow!' "? In fact, when I ask them about her singing, none respond with enthusiasm. One says: "Her voice was wiggly."

I was like my friends once, the gay men of generations X and Y. the ones who worship Bjork or Whitney Houston or Annie Lennox or Christina Aguilera or a dozen other dance music divas like Kylie or Deborah Cox, the ones for whom the end of the sentence that begins with "Clang, clang, clang" is nothing, a blank stare. Judy is dead: long live Madonna.

Indeed, once upon a time I was even less interested than they. I was actively hostile toward the very idea of Judy Garland. If asked for preferences, I'd spit out names like the Plasmatics' Wendy O. Williams and Diamanda Galas. Maybe MC Lyte. I was very punk rock and very proud of myself for not being that kind of fag, that kind of queen. …

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