Not many people today know or remember that legendary singer/songwriter Lou Reed is bi-sexual and that in his childhood his parents put him through electro-shock therapy to “cure” his “gayness“.
Born in 1942 into a Jewish family in Brooklyn, the teenaged Reed was subjected to electroconvulsive therapy to “cure” his homosexuality. His parents ordered this as they were “disturbed by his developing homosexuality.”
Reed wrote about the experience in his 1974 song, “Kill Your Sons” and also is quoted as saying, “They put the thing down your throat so you don’t swallow your tongue, and they put electrodes on your head. That’s what was recommended in Rockland County to discourage homosexual feelings. The effect is that you lose your memory and become a vegetable. You can’t read a book because you get to page 17 and have to go right back to page one again.”
Reed went on to work as a house songwriter for Pickwick Records before finding cult fame with art-rock band The Velvet Underground. Post-VU, he released a succession of acclaimed albums, most significantly 1972’s ‘Transformer’, whose themes of drug use and cross-dressing chimed with the mood of the glam-rock movement spearheaded by his friend David Bowie.
Reed was also a regular patron of the “infamous” Ninth Circle Bar in Greenwich Village, N.Y. in the 70’s and 80’s.
Reed has never “publicly” come out as bi-sexual but his sexual preferences are well-known in the music industry.