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Baker's Dozen

Dancing & Defiance - Paul Flynn's Soundtrack To 30 Years Of Gay Culture
Andy Thomas , July 24th, 2017 11:06

To mark the anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK, Paul Flynn (author of Good as You: From Prejudice to Pride, 30 Years of Gay Britain) chooses 13 records that soundtracked his life, from ACR to Elton and Lil Kim to Sleaford Mods.


Bronski Beat - The Age of Consent
I was having a look through my coolest cousin's record collection, aged 13. It was 1984. Bronski Beat's brand new debut was in the pile, pristine. I sat and listened to it while he and my brother, both five years older had a conversation I wasn't ready to take part in. The power of pop music and the impending excitement of adulthood hit hard that evening. I had no idea what the pink triangle on the cover meant. I thought you recognised a gay person by having a sleeper ring in their right earlobe or because they dressed like a woman. No history lesson in my corner of South Manchester had taught me about the Nazi party's branding and slaughter of gay folk, less so the later reclamation of the symbol by gay rights activists as the slow march toward equality began. On the Bronski Beat inner sleeve there was a list of the age of homosexual consent around the world. Suddenly it all made sense. I can still touch that ker-pow moment of thrill, horror, outrage, amazement, curiosity and fear in every bar of 'The Age of Consent'. So my new history lessons were electronic pulses, drum machines and Jimmy Somerville's almighty falsetto. 'Smalltown Boy' is my desert island disc bar none. 'It Ain't Necessarily So' connected that stunning little travelogue back to another place via George Gershwin. I love how the record finds the towpath from gay victimhood to heroism. Early on, that impetus became a broad objective for Good As You. Jimmy's massively underrated talent introduced me to Thelma Houston, Donna Summer and, ultimately, an entire new horizon of possibility.