When I was in elementary school, our next-door neighbor painted their house a pale pink, with wild horses running against a sunset airbrushed onto their garage door. My parents hated it because their aesthetic sensibilities were more refined.
Our family portraits were in black and white and tidily framed; we did not have paintings of men hunting or of dogs playing poker. We were on a country road and in his truck, like always. Because we lived far from Seattle, the radio hissed and spat static under the music. The song had reached cultural saturation a year or two before, and the first few notes were all I needed to hear. The track is all melancholy and longing, minor chord and mandolin. My father played the mandolin, and my parents were probably still in their bluegrass band, but my familiarity with the instrument did not make the song sound less foreign.
REM was gay.
R.E.M. - Losing My Religion - аккорды на укулеле
REM was Michael Stipe. This had somehow seeped into my world, maybe through TV, or through kids talking shit at school, implying that anyone who liked the band was guilty of that particular sin by association.
It looked, in those days, too much like a death sentence. Stipe himself, gaunt and white and gay, was death personified, and people assumed the worst for him. I never got carsick, but the song on the radio that day made me feel off, just slightly sick to my stomach.
I did not yet understand myself as gay and did not find comfort, like children sometimes do, in discovering that queerness exists in others. That day, driving, my dad and I talked about the minor key, the use of mandolin, the repetitive effect evoked by the guitars. We did not talk about words or meaning or gayness or desire.
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Losing my religion
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Losing My Religion
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