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There will only ever be one Tina Turner

Legendary singer performed at first-ever Gay Games in 1982

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Tina Turner (YouTube screenshot/Tina Turner)

Legendary singer Tina Turner, dubbed the ‘Queen of Rock’ n Roll,’ has died at the age of 83 at her home in Switzerland after a long illness, her publicist Bernard Doherty told the PA news agency. A statement read: “With her, the world loses a music legend and a role model.”

Today, upon her passing, everyone around the world is declaring Tina Turner “an icon.” 

It doesn’t fit. There are icons, an atmospheric leap, all of Heaven, and then, and only then, sitting above it all … is Tina Turner.

Simply, The Best.

For the non-conforming male personas amongst us, and for the female personas among us, she was our phoenix rising from the ashes of toxic masculinity, over coming it, and becoming the epitome of the queen, the warrior, the triumphant. She was the diva of rock, not just as in “Rock and Roll”, which was true, but as in “rocking your world.” When she borrowed Sir Elton’s “I’m Still Standing”, we knew she meant it.

In case you missed her story told many times, written about and immortalized on film, she was born Anna Mae Bullock. An up-and-coming musician named Ike Turner domineered her into his act and gave her the name “Tina Turner.” In classic “star is born” form, Tina Turner overcame her mentor in talent and popularity, and he married her.

Her voice was not one of sweetness and ice cream sodas. She was the real deal. Right from the start, she sang from the edge. She was not likely to be mistaken for Doris Day or Petula Clark, no, Tina Turner had grit, strength and even a tone of rage.

While other “iconic” singers debuted in film as sweet innocents, Tina’s launch was as the Acid Queen in Tommy. She played an erratic prostitute who advocated prophetic LSD in an effort to cure the title character.

With her humanness, her fight, and her willingness to be authentic, she spoke to, and for, many in the LGBTQ spectrum. 

As we enter an era where identities are valued and under siege, Tina Turner was a pioneer. While she was a cisgender woman of color, and none of those descriptions were ever challenged, she famously stood to fight for something that was … her name. When, during their contentious divorce, and Ike sought to deprive her of the identity she had built for herself, she fought back and she fought back hard.

She gave up everything to keep what she treasured. She famously said, “Except my name. I’ll give up all that other stuff, but only if I get to keep my name. I’ve worked too hard for it, your Honor.”

For our transgender and drag brothers and sisters, hear her. She blazed a trail for the chosen identity, and who could deny that “Tina Turner” was not the real her?

The outpouring of love and respect from the world’s LGBTQ population is deserved. She has been a longtime supporter and adored queen diva of the gay and LGBTQ community forever. She pioneered when others wouldn’t, by performing at the opening ceremonies of the first ever Gay Games in San Francisco in 1982. It was a watershed moment in sports for LGBTQ athletes and allies.  She has been imitated by drag queens for decades on platforms all across the world in the best “imitation is the highest form of flattery” way, beyond the point of homage and in some cases, to the point of worship. 

She loved us back. Tina frequently expressed her gratitude and love for her gay fans in interviews and concerts. She did not capitalize on her own sexuality but acknowledged her bisexuality and her relationships with women. While being open about her sexuality, she did not consider it a defining factor of her identity or her music. 

Only Tina Turner defined Tina Turner.

She meant something to all of us. Grief and wonder is pouring out from everyone from Diana Ross to NASA.

NASA, not an organization to normally recognize celebrities, but an absolute authority on things Heavenly, tweeted, “Simply the best. Music legend Tina Turner sparkled across the stage and into millions of hearts as the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Her legacy will forever live among the stars.” 

Mick Jagger said, “She was inspiring, warm, funny and generous. She helped me so much when I was young and I will never forget her.” 

“Rest in peace to one of my favorite artists of all time, the legendary queen of rock n’ roll Tina Turner,” stated Magic Johnson.

Speaking for many under and over the rainbow, George Takei stated, “She was our River Deep and our Mountain High, the Private Dancer in our hearts. She showed us that love really does has everything to do with it, and that we really did need another hero. And she was it.” 

It was not just that Tina Turner was a hero. It was that she was a survivor, trailblazer and hero to so many. From women of color who needed to see their strength demonstrated, to people in abusive relationships who needed to see their possibilities illuminated, to beaten gay boys who needed to see the power in standing and fighting, she gave hope to them all.

She showed us all how to embody our authentic selves and capture our creativity, our innovation and our truth. She said, “Sometimes you have to let everything go — purge yourself. If you are unhappy with anything — whatever is bringing you down — get rid of it. Because you will find that when you are free, your true creativity, your true self comes out.”

There is a line from “We Don’t Need Another Hero”: “So what do we do with our lives? We leave only a mark. Will our story shine like a light? Or end in the dark? Give it all or nothing.”

She gave us her all, and the mark she left?

Her story does not just shine like a light, it seared every person, every walk of life, she touched. She lived as any true hero would and has gone out in a fierce blaze of glory.

********************************************************************

Rob Watson is the host of the popular Hollywood-based radio/podcast show RATED LGBT RADIO.

He is an established LGBTQ columnist and blogger having written for many top online publications including The Los Angeles Blade, The Washington Blade, Parents Magazine, the Huffington Post, LGBTQ Nation, Gay Star News, the New Civil Rights Movement, and more.

He served as Executive Editor for The Good Man Project, has appeared on MSNBC and been quoted in Business Week and Forbes Magazine.

He is CEO of Watson Writes, a marketing communications agency, and can be reached at [email protected] .

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Celebrity News

John Waters released from hospital after car accident

Crash took place in Baltimore County

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John Waters (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

BY TAJI BURRIS | Baltimore filmmaker John Waters was released from the hospital Tuesday morning following a car accident.

The 78-year-old released a statement saying that although he was hurt in the Baltimore County crash, he did not sustain major injuries.

The rest of this article can be found on the Baltimore Banner’s website.

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More than 1 million people attend Madonna concert in Rio

Free event took place on Copacabana Beach on Saturday

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Madonna performs on Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana Beach on May 4, 2024. (Screen capture via Reuters YouTube)

An estimated 1.6 million people on Saturday attended Madonna’s free concert on Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana Beach.

The concert, which was the last one as part of Madonna’s Celebration Tour, included a tribute to people lost to AIDS.

Bob the Drag Queen introduced Madonna before the concert began. Pabllo Vittar, a Brazilian drag queen and singer, and Anitta, a bisexual pop star who was born in Rio’s Honório Gurgel neighborhood, also joined Madonna on stage.

Congresswoman Erika Hilton, a Black travesti and former sex worker, and Rio Municipal Councilwoman Mônica Benício, the widow of Marielle Franco, a bisexual Rio Municipal Councilwoman who was assassinated in 2018, are among those who attended the concert.

“Madonna showed that we fight important fights for the human rights of Black (people), young (people), women and LGBTQIA+ people, and against all injustice, discrimination, and violence,” said Associaçao Nacional de Travestis e Transexuais (National Association of Travestis and Transsexuals), a Brazilian trans rights group known by the acronym ANTRA, on its X account. “What they call identitarianism’ is our subversion to the retrograde and conservative tackiness that plagues the country.”

The Associated Press reported the concert was Madonna’s biggest ever.

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HRC releases ‘Queer Renaissance Syllabus’

Beyoncé’s hit album inspired curriculum

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Beyoncé performs at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., on Aug. 6, 2023. The Human Rights Campaign has released a curriculum that her "Renaissance" album inspired. (Washington Blade photo by Isabelle Kravis)

In a move aimed at celebrating the beauty, brilliance and resilience of the LGBTQ community, the Human Rights Campaign unveiled the “Queer Renaissance Syllabus” that Beyoncé’s “Renaissance” album inspired. 

Curated by Justin Calhoun, Leslie Hall and Chauna Lawson of the HRC’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities Program, the syllabus includes a variety of academic articles, essays, films and other media rooted in Black queer and feminist studies. Each piece is directly inspired by the tracks on Beyoncé’s Billboard 200-topping dance album, “Renaissance.”

Beyoncé’s album “Renaissance” stands as a cultural milestone, celebrating the Black queer roots of dance music while shedding light on overlooked Black queer artists. Inspired by her late-Uncle Johnny, the album not only garnered critical acclaim but also shed light on the often marginalized contributions of Black queer artists. Winning four Grammys and yielding chart-topping hits like “Break My Soul” and “Cuff It,” the album sparked discussions about economic impact and cultural representation.

Amid its success, legislative challenges arose, with Florida and Texas enacting bans on DEI initiatives in public colleges. Recognizing the album’s transformative potential, HRC developed the “Queer Renaissance Syllabus” to leverage its impact for education and activism.

Tailored for educators, youth-serving professionals, DEI practitioners, higher education leaders and admirers of Beyoncé’s artistry, the syllabus aims to encourage meaningful discussions, enrich lesson plans, and explore innovative ways to honor the vibrancy and significance of LGBTQ individuals and their culture.

With six themes anchoring the syllabus, ranging from “intersectionality and inclusivity” to “social justice and activism,” it provides a comprehensive exploration of various facets of LGBTQ experiences and expressions. Fan-favorite tracks from the album are paired with scholarly readings, offering insights into empowerment, self-acceptance and the transformative power of artistic expression. The syllabus also reinforces HRC’s efforts to highlight, amplify and re-center Black and queer voices.

By providing links to articles, books, podcasts and interviews, each associated with a song from the album, it celebrates the rich cultural heritage and contributions of the Black queer community.

The concluding section of the syllabus includes Beyoncé’s tribute to O’Shea Sibley, a young Black queer person who was murdered in Brooklyn, N.Y., last July while voguing to “Renaissance” songs at a gas station. HRC also includes a statement that condemns hate crimes.

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