For those of you who don’t know me well enough yet, I’ll start this with a confession:
- I have no time whatsoever for Kylie Minogue;
- I can listen to maybe one or two Gaga songs before I need to put something better on;
- I might go 12 months between listening to Madonna tracks.
I have a huge breadth of music interest, ranging from classical and opera right through to Australian Hip Hop, rock, pop, indie folk music and new age world music.
The 3 gay divas? I honestly couldn’t give a damn.
Music to me is a classic example of where I butt my head against what I sometimes see as being an odd need for conformity, even in the GBLTI community. I remember reading, over a decade ago, a prominent DJ on the Sydney gay dance club scene in an interview express no small level of exasperation that there wasn’t enough exploration of music. He used the example of a mid-50s guy bursting into tears and running off because the DJ wouldn’t play the same Kylie song a third time in a row.
While I’ve spent most of my life being a wallflower and not getting involved, I’ve also had a completely stubborn streak all my life when it comes to deciding what I’ll like. I grew up in a house that made nominal head nods towards religion and was atheist by age 8. I grew up in a house that worshipped at the alter of sport and find it totally boring. I grew up in a largely conservative political household and I’m about as left-wing as you can get without being a communist.
Some would call me contrary, but that would just be trite.
Maybe this makes me an “anti-hipster”; I don’t mean being personally opposed to hipsters; but rather, why I do what I choose to do – not because it’s new and out there, and no-one else is doing it. Similarly, I’m not one to do something just because others are doing it. So if there’s a scale with hipster at one end and conformist in the middle, I’m at the anti-hipster point at the other end of the scale, not because I like being contrary but simply because I’ll do what I want to do. No needing to stick out, no needing to conform, just being.
Yet sometimes, I end up feeling a little like the woman in the yellow pashmina at the end of this Smack The Pony sketch. Watch it until the end, you’ll get what I mean:
(The above could be a completely normal day for me when it comes to music. The reds are Madonna lovers, the blues are Gaga, and there I am at the end apparently foolish enough to say “Actually I’d prefer Gin Wigmore”.)
Whenever a new meme or new “OMFG this is so damn awesome!” group cry comes out, you’ll usually find me hanging back and likely with a slightly suspicious look. I’m intensely wary of groupthink, and will always want my own time to form my own opinion. Invariably, if I’m not given that time, I’ll choose not to conform, instead of conforming. I have to decide, independently, whether it’s something that personally appeals to me, rather than jumping in because everyone else is.
Conformity can be useful at times because there can be a strength in a common purpose; but as the saying goes – as soon as you start dividing people into them and us, you become one of them. Or, as Mama Cass sang:
You gotta make your own kind of music
sing your own special song,
make your own kind of music even if nobody
else sings along.
So I think it’s important that we never lose that intrinsic joy that can be found from forging our own paths. Of quietly doing a bear shuffle to a song no-one else likes, or smiling at a joke that no-one else gets, or liking a song or movie not because it’s really good, but because it’s actually really bad, knowing you can take joy from the most unexpected of sources.