Commentary

Stop Calling Elton John "Flamboyant"

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Comments on Elton John's sexuality in most music articles seems unnecessary. When I was writing about him last week it was a struggle to cram such a long and successful career into such a short piece. The majority of brief articles about his music need not mention his sexuality at all; it's just not the place for it to be brought up. Unless the article is a big biographical piece, it's frequently frivolous information.

Elton John is more than just a musician, though. He is a cultural icon, and details about his personal life are of interest to readers. But if a writer is going to mention that he's gay (because it somehow seems important to the story), to do so without also mentioning that he's also a long-time gay-rights activist is irresponsible. John was one of the first "out" cultural icons, and he received mountains of criticism because of it. He was also an early advocate for those with HIV/AIDS -- making him an international hero to LGBTQ audiences and beyond. Words like "flamboyant" cheapen his brave stance.

For what it's worth, Sir Elton doesn't seem to mind the word. But it's possible that he just uses it in the same tradition that other marginalized groups do when attempting to reclaim words that were formally meant as offensive. (Feminists owning the word "bitch," for example.)

Maybe you think I'm being an overly sensitive tool here. Maybe you think that as a (mostly) straight woman I should just STFU, and it's none of my business. Maybe you think I'm imagining this problem and having a fit over some shit that doesn't even matter and that nobody else has ever noticed. And maybe it's stupid to complain about something like this when there are other problems in the world and all. But like I said, words are important, and how we use them should be questioned and re-questioned always.

In any case, describing Elton John as "flamboyant" might not always be intentionally rude, but it is played out, and I'm sick of reading it, especially when there is so much else to say. At best, using "flamboyant" is lazy and predictable writing. The man has had more than 50 Top 40 hits -- maybe you should accidentally mention that instead. So, writers, use your thesauri. And readers, call bullshit on your writers. As a reader, I do it all the time.

See also: -The Top Ten All Time Best Replacement Lead Singers in Rock and Roll -Songs That Have Hidden Messages When Played in Reverse -The Ten Best Music Videos Banned by MTV

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