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Great moments in (my) pop culture history: George Michael “Outside” music video.

August 4, 2010

In 1998, singer George Michael was famously outed as gay when an LAPD officer posing as a hot guy wanting public restroom sex arrested him. It was total bullshit entrapment and part of a sting operation where the LAPD used “pretty police” to lure gay men in public restrooms in order to arrest them. George Michael then went officially public with his sexuality – something lots of us had already clued into as we waved at him in his totally glass closet – and put out a music video for his single “Outside”, all of which was clearly a response to the incident. The officer who arrested him tried to sue over the video saying it was slanderous and caused him emotional distress and had his case shot down not once, but twice! Take that, asshole cop targeting gay dudes!

But the video! Oh, it’s so totally and deliciously good. The song, compared to some of Michael’s other classic singles, is passable and danceable but not the most amazing piece of pop music. But the video just transforms into this whole other fantastic thing. Scenes of couples of all flavors engaging in all sorts of public acts pepper the video along with a fabulous dance sequence with George and his dancers in cop drag. At the end of the video is the scene that, in my opinion, caused all of the “emotional distress” for the arresting officer as the two cops who keep busting all of the couples in the video come together in a totally hot, totally gay makeout session as the video ends. It’s a brilliant piece of public relations and a huge “fuck you” to the whole situation. And I’ll admit, I’m a bit biased. George is Greek and gay and so am I. And when I was a little kid I desperately wanted my name to be “George”. But that was because I was obsessed with Curious George.

At any rate, I loved how in-your-face the video was, how unapologetic George Michael was and how unabashedly queer the entire affair was. It’s such a refreshing response given the number of rather sexless, don’t-frighten-the-horses gay celebrities seem to exist at the moment. But Mr. Michael loved to frighten some horses (and there is a gay man + large penis joke in there somewhere) and I love him for that.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 4, 2010 10:35 am

    What I love about this video and its messaging was it unpacked the privacy/closeted conflation. There is an assumption that a gay celebrity who doesn’t appear on the cover of a national magazine talking about their sexuality, then by default they are “closeted”. I mean seriously, I pretty much accepted that Michael was probably not straight the first time I saw a wham video. He had chubby black girls in his videos ALL THE TIME, which seemed to denote some level of gay awareness on his part.

    • August 4, 2010 5:45 pm

      Yes! I totally agree about him breaking the tie between being private and being closeted. I hate the way people always assume that a star who has not announced his or her queerness in a massive public forum is somehow closeted. I never did an interview with Newsweek or Time or Out or whomever to let the world at large know I’m a big ol’ fag. Does that mean I’m somehow closeted.

      Oh, and apparently Andre Ridgeley is heterosexual. Although being married to a member of Bananarama is still pretty gay.

      • August 4, 2010 6:27 pm

        Ha. I always thought Ridge was a little gay for George. Hell, even at age 12 I was a little gay for George. I definitely crushed on whatever gayness I was sniffing through the television set. I still love him. Freedom 90 is my equality jam.

  2. August 4, 2010 10:36 am

    Plus the “breakup” of Wham sounded more like boyfriends breaking up than artists going their separate ways. Okay, now I’m just being cheeky.

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