Nov 24, 2017

The 12 Most Homophobic, Heterosexist, and Horrible Songs

Heterosexism is commonplace in the "girl! girl! girl!' banter of popular music.  But some songs are so heterosexist, homophobic, or otherwise horrible that I literally can't stand to hear them.  If they come on tv, I click the channel, and if I can't find the remote, I run from the room.  If they're playing in a store, I leave. And heaven help the friend who starts singing one of them!

1. "It's a Man's World" (James Brown, 1966)

It's a man's world, but you're nothing...nothing at all, without a woman!

(See: Homophobic Moments in Music)

2. "She Bangs" (Ricky Martin, 2000).

A gay guy singing about how much he likes the way a girl moves, and then a pun on "shebang" and a dirty phrase for sex.  Can't get any more Uncle Tom than that.

3. "Stand Tall" (Burton Cummings, 1976)

December 1976: I was home sick, looking for a gay comic book, and thinking "No way am I a swish!"  And I heard on the radio:

Stand tall, don't you fall, don't go and do something foolish
All you're feeling right now is silly human pride.

Right, not gay, don't do anything foolish.

4. "Lady" (Kenny Rogers, 1980).

October 1980. I was cruising at the levee, looking for love, negotiating the incessant "what girl do you like?" chants of my family and friends.  And I heard:

Lady, I'm your knight in shining armor, and I love you.
Let me hold you in my arms forever more....

5. "When Doves Cry" (Prince and the Revolution, 1984).

June 1984: I'm on my way to Hell-fer-Sartain State University for the worst year of my life, and this ultra-feminine, super-gay coded guy starts singing about a heterosexual breakup:

How can you just leave me standing, alone in a world so cold?
Maybe I'm just too demanding
Maybe I'm just like my father, too bold

(See Looking for Beefcake in Nashville.)

6. "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" (Judy Garland, 1944).

Once I was sick and stayed home on Christmas day, and the drag queen next door was playing this horror by gay icon Judy Garland over and over and over. It's still the main cause of the spike in suicides every Christmas.

More (gulp!) after the break.

7. "Que Sera, Sera" (Doris Day, 1956)

What will happen in the future?  Will I get married?  Will I have kids?  Or will I endure years of misery and pain in a cold, lonely world?  Rather a heterosexist question, especially for gay icon Doris Day, who was best buddies with her sex-comedy costar Rock Hudson.  The answer is:

Que sera, sera -- what will be, will be.

8.  "Give Me a Reason" (Dave Mason, 1975)

Dave Mason is often rumored to be gay, but he has no connection to any gay community institutions.  Instead, he offers this nihilist father-son chat:

Give me a reason for laughing, give me a reason to cry.
Give me a reason for living, Daddy, won't you give me a reason why?

Sorry, can't think of one.

Who is God, and what's on His mind?
"That's a good question" I reply.

That is a good question.

9. "Suicide is Painless" (M*A*S*H, 1970.  Originally by Johnny Mandel and Mike Altman).

The movie was about a soldier in the Korean War who thought he was gay because he couldn't perform properly with ladies.  He therefore intended to commit suicide, until his buddies convinced him that he was straight after all.

A song suggesting that gay people commit suicide?  Great.

10. "Don't You (Forget About Me)" (The Breakfast Club, 1985.  Originally by Simple Minds.)

Gay people weren't forgotten in this movie about high schoolers bonding through an all-day detention. It  begins with a shocking reminder of how vicious homophobia got in the 1980s -- nearly as bad as Family Guy today.

11. "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" (Life Goes On, 1989.  Originally from the Beatles).

I hated the tv series, and I hate the song, about an impoverished heterosexual couple making ends meet and saying "Ob-la-di, ob-la-da" to each other.  I guess that's Jamaican for "Que sera, sera."

12. "Fireflies" (Owl City, 2009)

I'd get a thousand hugs from ten thousand lightning bugs
As they tried to teach me how to dance a foxtrot above my head.

Not particularly heterosexist, but come on -- if a bunch of bugs flew into my room, I'd be running for the fly swatter, not asking them for dance lessons and hugs.  And the Owl guy isn't even particularly cute.

See also: Barry Manilow10 Gay Movies I Hated; and The 39 Dumbest Things on TV.


  1. MASH the TV series did try to be slightly more sensitive and inclusive.

  2. I'd rather have a breakfast club sandwich than a Breakfast Club soundtrack. But seriously, Don't You Forget about Me also has the annoyance of being associated with Degrassi's other shipper war: Breakfast Club parody, then naming a (bad) web skit after that song. (Answer to all Degrassi shipper wars: Let Marco have fun with him.)

    Also, you go with She Bangs and not Livin la Vida Loca? It's more well-known.


No comments that use abusive or vulgar language or point out that a character is Not Wearing a Sign.


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