The first time I saw Prince was in the music video for “Gold.” I was probably around 7 or 8 years old, flipping through channels when my mom stopped me. Prince was on TV. I’m fairly sure I had not watched the "Gold" video again before the day he passed. There are certainly better or more interesting Prince songs. And yet I remember this video. I couldn’t remember the song or its title but I remembered the experience of discovering Prince. I remember being confused about which gender he was. He wore heels and makeup but he had his chest hair sticking out proudly. Looking back, the video’s actually conventional by Prince standards, but it was one of the queerest things I had seen at that point. It felt inappropriate and almost dirty, but my mother was right there watching it with me. This wasn’t some sex scene I accidentally changed the channel to and watched until I heard my mother come near. She was right there with me being just as “perverted.” This is when I discovered my mother’s (and the world’s) attraction to Prince. I remember my mom describing this man as sexy. If I had to describe him at that age with the little vocabulary, I knew I would have called him gay. That word wasn't even negative in my mind, but it wasn't traditionally "sexy" either. I thought that men who wore makeup were my mom’s friends and funny TV characters on shows I wasn't allowed to watch, not people that women were attracted to. Yet there was my mom, watching this man in heels, visibly showing her sexual attraction to him that she had long before I was born. After this first taste of Prince, I eventually realized that he was way bigger than my mom’s crush. He was a legend and a phenomenon. My mom’s attraction wasn’t this freak kink, but something she shared with people around the world. And men respected Prince too. This is something that always surprised me growing up and changed my life. I’ve never really trusted or felt comfortable around men. Even as a kid, I knew I was queer and I was always terrified that they’d notice and do something to me. Can’t tell you what, just something. Prince was a "real man" to these men I was terrified of being myself around. This man in makeup, singing in a "feminine" falsetto, wearing crop tops and heels, was more than respected — he was revered. Prince was barbershop music, the most masculine area of my life growing up. He was the queerest human being I could look up to, listen to and enjoy in public. It wasn’t queer to love or respect Prince, it was weird not to.
- advertisement -