Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

True to Herself Sonia Rutstein's Music Embraces Her Sexuality

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

True to Herself Sonia Rutstein's Music Embraces Her Sexuality

Article excerpt

disappear fear

Where: The Sheldon, 3648 Washington Ave.

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

How much: $15 in advance, $17.50 at door

Information: 533-9900

IN RECENT YEARS, several high-profile gay musicians, including k.d. lang and Melissa Etheridge, have come out in the open and candidly discussed their situations in interviews and other public forums.

But few artists have put their experience into song in such straightforward and moving terms as Sonia Rutstein, songwriter and singer of disappear fear, does on the tune "Who's So Scared" from the group's new self-titled CD.

After opening the song with a lyrical segment adapted from a poem by Countee Cullen that recounts a young black boy's first encounter with racisim, the song's focus shifts to Rutstein describing her own feelings of isolation, fear and finally acceptance over being gay and Jewish.

"Countee Cullen really set it up great. I mean, that whole first part of `Who's So Scared' is the Countee Cullen poem," Rutstein said. "He was coming from being black, and what I could compare it to in my life was being lesbian and being Jewish, and knowing what the stereotype is supposed to be in the world, and what the turth about it is, you know.

"It's so ridiculous, (that) and people still do that stuff. It's crazy . . . I guess it just comes from that old fear stuff. If something's different, be scared of it . . . like from the Neanderthal days, as opposed to the way a child embraces the world, embraces everything."

For the 35-year-old Rutstein, embracing her sexuality, both in her life and in her music, was not an easy process. Though she realized she was gay at 14, Rutstein fought her feelings - even dating boys frequently in high school - and really didn't accept her sexuality until she was 22. It wasn't until she formed disappear fear with her sister, Cindy Frank, in 1987 that she was fully able to incorporate that aspect of her life into her music.

"I didn't even want to be gay in the first place. So there was that," she said. "And then there was stuff like, you know, what I really am. This really makes me happy. This fulfills my life. This is who I am, and get on with it.

"Before disappear fear, I was in a band where it wasn't OK to be out. I was very much in the closet. And (in) songs I was writing, I really had to hide things in metaphors, which probably helped my songwriting in a way. It made me sort of, like, have to take some detours with things.

"But once I actually came out, and . . . just made a declaration to myself that I had to be true to myself in my writing and in my life, my songwriting just got so much better. It just rings true. It's just natural. It just works.

"I think music and the arts, I think that's what people relate to. I think that's why music is such a powerful medium. It's that spirituality. It's that part that resonates in all of us, that you hear regardless of the format, regardless of the content, regardless of the form of the love. …

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