Tag Archives: controversy

#FlashbackFriday - Josie Cotton's "Johnny Are You Queer" and the Controversy Over the Lyrics

#FlashbackFriday – Josie Cotton’s “Johnny Are You Queer”(1982) Controversial on Both Sides.

#FlashbackFriday and Gay History all in one post. Thats a BINGO!

“Johnny Are You Queer?” is a 1980s song credited to the writing team of Bobby and Larson Paine.[The song was first performed live by the Go-Go’s, and eventually recorded by Josie Cotton, who released the song as a single in 1981 and 1982, and as part of her 1982 album Convertible Music.[The song was featured on the Valley Girl soundtrack and stirred some major controversy.

The controversy centered around the lyrics of the song, which some viewed as mocking and derogatory towards the gay community. The chorus of the song includes the lines, “Johnny, are you queer? / ‘Cause when I see you dance with your friends / I can’t help but wonder.”

Many in the LGBT community felt that the song perpetuated harmful stereotypes and trivialized the struggles and discrimination faced by gay people. Some also argued that the song was an example of cultural appropriation, as it was written and performed by a straight artist who was profiting off of gay culture without truly understanding or empathizing with the experiences of gay people. The Village Voice and The Advocate were both highly critical of “Johnny, Are You Queer?”; The Village Voice criticized the work in an article titled “Josie, Are You a Bitch?

Cotton was also also accused by multiple conservative groups of promoting homosexuality, and one network claimed that “there was no Josie Cotton and that she was actually a gay man who was trying to convert unsuspecting straight men into a homosexual lifestyle.

“‘Johnny’ was banned in Amsterdam, but went to number 2 on AM radio charts in Canada,” Cotton recalled. “In America, on the West Coast, it became an anthem in the gay community, empowering folks to come out of the closet. But on the East Coast, some gay groups and gay publications really believed ‘Johnny’ was homophobic. Radio programmers were nervous because they thought it was a gay record. The religious right televised on their TBN network that Josie Cotton was actually a gay man promoting homosexuality, and ‘Johnny’ was used for brainwashing purposes in sleep deprivation programs for Christian re-education camps in the South.”
Josie Cotton

Regardless of the intentions behind the song, the controversy it generated highlighted the complex and often fraught relationship between straight artists and the LGBT community. It also demonstrated the power of music to spark debates and conversations about important social issues, including discrimination and representation.

Cotton has spoken out about the controversy many times, expressing regret for any harm that the song may have caused.

Today, “Johnny, Are You Queer?” remains a controversial artifact of gay pop culture history

Bette Midler Slammed On TWITTER After Quoting: "'Women Are the N-Word of the World'

Bette Midler Slammed On TWITTER After Quoting: “‘Women Are the N-Word of the World’

Bette Midler was thrown under the bus last night and slammed over what she thought she was a powerful statement about how women are perceived and treated in the world in light of the FBI’s brief and limited investigation into the sexual assault claim made against Kavanaugh by Christine Blasey Ford.

Midler tweeted a paraphrased line from one of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s more controversial songs entitled “Woman Is the N—-r of the World.”

Bette Midler Slammed On TWITTER After Quoting: "'Women Are the N-Word of the World'

Midler’s name began trending on Twitter immediately and continued to through the night. Her post instantly sparked outrage, with many arguing it erases the struggle of black women and is blatantly disrespectful to the African-American community in light of social issues in our country.  Midler was also accused of showing her privilege and reminded that a white woman shouldn’t be marginalizing black women.

People also stressed that the struggle of white women can’t be compared to the history of racism, violence and systematic oppression that black women have faced, which her tweet “erased”.

Franchesca Ramsey



Midler acknowledged in a follow-up tweet that her message “offended many” but defended it by noting that it was originally spoken by Yoko Ono, “Which I never forgot. It rang true then, and it rings true today, whether you like it or not,” she wrote. “This is not about race, this is about the status of women; THEIR HISTORY.”

“I am an ally and stand with you; always have,” she wrote. “And I apologize.”

But that was not enough for many.

Midler’s explanation of the quote inflamed people even more.State Sen. Nina Turner (D-Ohio) told Midler that her white woman privilege was showing.

Rapper Talib Kweli Greene reminded her that “black women exist” and “are treated like niggers. You are not,” he tweeted to her. “Please stop erasing black women. Thank you.”

Later Midler apologized and acknowledged that black women “doubly suffer, both by being women and being black.”

Bishop Talbert Swan


Nothing like a white woman telling another white woman that her offensive Tweet, which invalidated black suffering, “didn’t invalidate black suffering.”

This is a classic example of whitesplaining.

Shanita Hubbard


How exhausting it is to have to even state this in 2018. But here we are.

Lura Groen@lura_groen

No ma’am.

Please don’t appropriate the racism Black people experience.

Sexism is bad enough as it is.

Racism is a different bad thing.

Some people experience both.

And this is a very bad tweet.

SF Pride Backlash Continues, Peter Thatchell And Others Respond To Removal of Bradley Manning

SF PrideThe backlash continues against SF Pride as Britain’s best know human rights and LGBT social movement advocate and activist Peter Thatchell among others has responded to San Francisco Pride’s Executive Director Lisa William’s statement released on Friday about the “mistake” of appointing PFC  Bradley Manning as Honorary Grand Pride Marshall at its 2013 Pride festivities.

Manning who was arrested in May 2010 in Iraq on suspicion of having passed classified material to the website WikiLeaks which included videos of the July 12, 2007 Baghdad airstrike which showed an American helicopter firing on a group of men in Baghdad which were a journalist, and two other Reuters employees, the 2009 Granai airstrike in Afghanistan which killed approximately 86 to 147 Afghan civilians and 250,000 United States diplomatic cables which were widely seen as a catalyst for the Arab Spring.

Wrote Thatchell:

San Francisco Pride has revoked the nomination of gay rights advocate & military whistleblower Private Bradley Manning as Grand Marshal of this year’s Pride parade.  SF Pride leaders are wrong on facts, ethics & politics. Bradley revealed US war crimes & cover ups.

Manning is a hero – a defender of democracy and human rights, based on the principle that citizens have a right to know what the government is doing in their name. Bradley should not be in prison. The charges should be dropped. Set him free. Instead, put on trial those US soldiers who killed innocent civilians and those who protected the perpetrators.

Bradley Manning is a true patriot, not a traitor. Bradley reveres the founding ideals of the US – the ideal of an open, honest government accountable to the people, that pursues its policies by lawful means and respects human rights.

At great personal risk, Manning sought to expose grave crimes that were perpetrated and then hidden by the US government and military. These are the characteristics of a man of conscience, motivated by altruism. There is no evidence that his leaks harmed anyone. Thanks to Manning, we, the people, know the truth.

Bradley Manning acted in the spirit of the gay liberation pioneers. Make Bradley Grand Marshal of San Francisco Pride.”

Peter Tatchell

Director, Peter Tatchell Foundation

SF  Pride’s Executive Director’s Lisa Williams statement on Friday removing Manning as honorary Pride Grand Marshall in reality has caused even a bigger backlash against the organization due to Williams outrageous handling of it in which she not only blamed a lowly SF Pride staffer but also personalised her  highly negative feelings while admitting that the committee of former San Francisco Pride grand marshals who makes the decision of who will be Pride Marshall’s did indeed select the 25-year-old Manning, who is openly gay, for the honor, but the Pride Board decided his choice would be a mistake (after grumblings from a handful od politically connected LGBT military advocates, Gay Inc. and corporate sponsors)

Wrote Williams in her statement:

Bradley Manning will not be a grand marshal in this year’s San Francisco Pride celebration…..that was an error and that person has been disciplined…….a mistake and should never have been allowed to happen.….will not be tolerated…..a systemic failure that now has become apparent and will be rectified. SF Pride repudiates this vote. Bradley Manning….will not serve as an official participant in the SF Pride Parade.

Bradley Manning is facing the military justice system of this country. We all await the decision of that system.  However, until that time, even the hint of support for actions which placed in harms way the lives of our men and women in uniform — and countless others, military and civilian alike — will not be tolerated by the leadership of San Francisco Pride.  It is, and would be, an insult to every one, gay and straight, who has ever served in the military of this country.

As Kevin Gosztola of Fire Dog Lake  is quick to point out Williams did not simply go through the motions and make a statement clarifying he would not be honored like military factions of the LGBT community wanted.  She herself put forth a robust condemnation of Manning fueled by her own perceptions.  Gostola also reveals that the bio for Williams on the SF Pride page shows she works for a “political consulting and community advocacy” group that serves Democratic Party politics and that she “organized satellite offices for the Obama campaign.” She also is the PAC chair of the Bayard Rustin LGBT Coalition.

Scott Long at his blog on sex, rights and the world called “Paper Bird” highlights the irony that a person who chairs a coalition that is supposed to celebrate Rustin is fueling the vilification of Manning.

Rustin, if you remember, was one of the great figures of 20th-century America: a pacifist, a war resister, an icon of civil disobedience, and the key organizer of the 1963 March on Washington. (Also a gay man). Rustin spent three years in Lewisburg Penitentiary as a conscientious objector during the Second World War.  The quote (slightly tweaked) came from a citizen of West Chester, PA, back in 2002, who objected to naming a school after Bayard Rustin. After all, the traitor broke US law, encouraged others to do likewise, and opposed the military and domestic policies of the United States.

Glenn Greenwald of the UK Guardian whose article titled: “Bradley Manning is off-limits at SF Gay Pride parade, but corporate sleaze is embraced”  also points out SF Prides “ethical standards” aren’t really all that ethical after all

Manning will not be tolerated but there is a long roster of large corporations serving as the event’s sponsors who are welcomed with open arms.  The list is here. It includes AT&T and Verizon, the telecom giants that enabled the illegal warrantless eavesdropping on US citizens by the Bush administration and its NSA, only to get retroactively immunized from Congress and thus shielded from all criminal and civil liability (including a lawsuit brought in San Francisco against those corporations by their customers who were illegally spied on). Last month, AT&T was fined by OSHA for failing to protect one of its employees who was attacked, was found by the FCC last year to have overcharged customers by secretly switching them to plans they didn’t want, and is now being sued by the US government for “allegedly bill[ing] the government improperly for services designed for the deaf and hard-of-hearing who place calls by typing messages over the web.”

The list of SF Pride sponsors also includes Bank of America, now being sued for $1 billion by the US government for allegedly engaging in a systematic scheme of mortgage fraud which the US Attorney called “spectacularly brazen in scope”.

Another beloved SF Pride sponsor, Wells Fargo, is also being “sued by the US for hundreds of millions of dollars in damages over claims the bank made reckless mortgage loans that caused losses for a federal insurance program when they defaulted”. Last year, Wells Fargo was fined $3.1 million by a federal judge for engaging in conduct that court called “highly reprehensible” relating to its persecution of a struggling homeowner. 

Also in Good Standing with the SF Pride board: Clear Channel, the media outlet owned by Bain Capital that broadcasts the radio programs of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck.

So apparently, the very high-minded ethical standards of Lisa L Williams and the SF Pride Board apply only to young Army Privates who engage in an act of conscience against the US war machine.

Weather Manning was a good choice or a bad choice that is besides the point now.  Whats now become the focus now is not only the issue of integrity and double standards on SF Prides part but also on the leaders of the LGBT community whose fear of upsetting the connected few and the political machine is nuetering and silencing community from speaking out  freely making statements while they take millions from corporations that have hurt us and the American people.

Is this the price we will have to pay for our equality?

But in the end the better question is if this really the  way we want to achieve it.



WikiLeaks PFC Bradley Manning Chosen As Grand Marshall of San Francisco Pride Parade

Bradley manning pride marshall

Bradley Manning, the LGBT Army intelligence specialist who’s accused of releasing more than 750,000 documents of various levels of governmental classification through WikiLeaks be one of the grand marshals of the San Francisco Pride celebration this summer.

As many applaud SF Prides bold choice some LGBT military activists are furious.

Gay military activist Sean Sala (who I have personally never heard of)  reacted by saying about Manning “He is a traitor,” and has called call for a nationwide boycott of the festivities unless they remove Manning.

“Bradley Manning is currently in Military tribunal for handing over Secret United States information to Wikileaks’ Julian Assange. His actions endangered the lives of thousands of service members and their families across the globe. Manning has admitted to be the leaker.
As the organizer of the 2011 Active Duty Military March in San Diego Pride and working with the Pentagon to approve the first ever Uniformed Military march in a Pride parade, I am appalled, infuriated and sad. San Francisco has spit in the face of LGBT Military by using a traitor to our country as a poster child. They are not using Manning for anything they truly admire, only to boost their attendance and garnish more currency for their parade.
Manning makes Gay military, the Armed Forces and cause of equality look like a sham. He deserves no recognition.
I am calling all LGBT Military and national LGBT news to announce a boycott for San Francisco Pride. Specifically LGBT Military, Active and Veterans of all Branches.
This is a sensitive time for the LGBT Community, we have spent fifty years trying to garnish equality and Manning cannot and will not represent Gay Military patriots.”
But Manning does have his supporters including Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, Michael Moore, Daniel Ellsberg, Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich, Iraq Veterans Against the War, the San Francisco Labor AFL-CIO Labor Council and famed LGBT activist Peter Tatchell
LGBT Military and HIV activist Ian Finkenbinder who was one of the protestors who worked passionately for the repeal of DADT and handcuffed himself to the White House fence has this to say.
“As someone who joined the effort to end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell after being discharged from the United States Army’s Military Intelligence Corps, I applaud PFC Manning’s actions and commend the SF Pride committee for taking a stand against corruption and deplorable military and political practice. As LGBT communities gain greater acceptance in our society and political arenas, we can look to Manning and those like him as an example of great integrity. Our integration into these institutions need not come at the cost of our soul as a community, and I would be proud to consider myself a battle buddy to this exemplar of truth and justice.”

Manning will be represented, at San Francisco Pride by Pentagon Papers’ whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg.

>*Back2Stonewall stands with San Francisco Pride on its decision and DOES NOT support a boycott of San Francisco Pride.