In the video for the Fischerspooner single “TopBrazil,” Casey Spooner is seen in one clip with pornstar Tayte Hanson licking up his torso. In another, his face is coming up from a nude model’s butt cheeks, spread wide, and in countless others he’s immersed in writhing, copulating bodies (sometimes while wearing a crystalized creation from the New York-based brand Nihl). Spooner — frontman of the group and a queer artist in his own right — notes the convolution of sexuality and expressiveness was purposeful.
In a statement to i-D, which premiered the video, Spooner writes, “The video celebrates a pop aesthetic typically reserved for the female archetype. It liberates the male form to be sexual, expressive and fearless.”
And the liberation of that form, particularly as it relates to the queer artist, is an evolution in how these musicians approach their craft.
Though the queer artist and musician have been in the music industry for a while, in the beginning they would shirk the use of specific pronouns in love songs. Instead of singing to “him” or “her,” they sung to “you,” or they circumvented the issue all together and sung about just the emotional. But over time, and increasingly in recent years, this has changed.
The often-referenced Frank Ocean incident saw a journalist notice Ocean’s male pronoun usage during a listening party for his album Channel Orange. He’s continued using pronouns, male or female, on his more recent projects Blonde and Endless. But other musicians, too, have taken up the mantle.
New Jersey’s 070 Shake, a rapper signed to G.O.O.D. music, has used female pronouns since she debuted in 2005. Troye Sivan, Kevin Abstract and Tegan and Sara are also a part of that chorus of queer artists. As Pitchfork pointed out, as recent as 2014 Sam Smith was shying away from male pronouns in not only his original songs but in covers. On his second album he changed that, partially in response to the criticisms.
So if a queer artist is reticent to even say the pronouns, it’s little surprise they’ve shied away from blatantly queer sexuality. When Adam Lambert kissed another guy onstage in 2009 at the American Music Awards, the cameras did a quick cut-away. In the wake of that, his comments mimicked Spooner’s.
“Female performers have been doing this for years — pushing the envelope about sexuality — and the minute a man does it, everybody freaks out,” Lambert told Rolling Stone. “My goal was not to piss people off, it was to promote freedom of expression and artistic freedom.”
Spooner and other queer artists are here to take up that mantle.
In his cover story for Paper magazine, rapper Milan Christopher got fully nude following his slot on Season 2 of Love and Hip Hop: Hollywood. “I just feel like in our culture it’s so taboo for a guy to show their bodies but it’s OK for a woman to do it,” he said at the time. “I just kinda want to break that.”
Australia’s Brendan MacLean also took up the cause with his “House of Air” video, which was more sexual than most and got pulled from YouTube after racking up 700,000 views.
Acceptance of these depictions shows a marked change. While many times queer subjects are accepted in part — as accessories — support for these artists would show society is ready to support our community holistically.
And it’s about time.
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