The student association at Ontario’s University : University of Guelph has apologized to members of the transgender community who may have felt “hurt” or devalued by overhearing Lou Reed’s famous song “Take a Walk on the Wild Side.” at a campus event.
In an apology published to Facebook and subsequently removed, the group said: “We now know the lyrics to this song are hurtful to our friends in the trans community and we’d like to unreservedly apologize for this error in judgement.”
The lyrics in question focus on Reed’s friends from Andy Warhol’s Factory, among them transgender “superstars” Holly Woodlawn and Candy Darling.:
It’s come to our attention that the playlist we had on during bus pass distribution on Thursday contained a song with transphobic lyrics (Lou Reed, Take a Walk on the Wild Side). The playlist was compiled by one of the Executives with the intent of feeling like a road trip from the 70s and 80s. The song was included solely on those terms and made in ignorance as the person making the list did not know or understand the lyrics.
We now know the lyrics to this song are hurtful to our friends in the trans community and we’d like to unreservedly apologize for this error in judgement.
The student association page continued by saying the mere concept of the song, taking a walk on the wild side, is “problematic” and “dangerous” because it describes transgender people (reportedly 0.5 percent of the Canadian population) as being “unusual,” which they claim is “dehumanizing” and makes people somehow less supportive of transgender rights:
Additionally, stating that conversing, spending time with, or having sex with a trans person is “taking a walk on the wild side” is also problematic. It labels trans folks as “wild” or “unusual” or “unnatural” which is a dangerous rhetoric.
Friends of the late Lou Reed responded on Saturday with disbelief to a claim by a Canadian student body that the singer’s 1972 hit Walk on the Wild Side contains transphobic lyrics.
“I don’t know if Lou would be cracking up about this or crying because it’s just too stupid”
“I don’t know if Lou would be cracking up about this or crying because it’s just too stupid,” the singer’s longtime producer, Hal Willner, said . “The song was a love song to all the people he knew and to New York City by a man who supported the community and the city his whole life.”
Jenni Muldaur, a friend of Reed who was also an occasional backup singer for him, said the group’s objection was “completely ridiculous”.
“Lou was open about his complete acceptance of all creatures of the night,” she said. “That’s what that song’s about. Everyone doing their thing, taking a walk on the wild side. I can’t imagine how anyone could conceive of that. The album was called Transformer. What do they think it’s about?”