WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
The first openly gay musician signed to a major label might have been a reasonable epitaph if the music Jobriath made wasn’t so deliciously great.
By Eugene S. Robinson
Everybody’s written about Jobriath. To death. The confluence of being the first openly gay musician or the first openly gay musician signed to a major label to die from AIDS is much too enticing of a story NOT to touch.
But this ain’t about that.
He claimed glam rock as his own and rode that rocket into the upper stratosphere of the space he so comfortably claimed as home.
In the early 1970s when Elton John tearfully revealed to the press that, despite a misbegotten show marriage, he was gay, just to be out and proud was a media rarity. But Jobriath, a much-more-than-occasional prostitute when the going got tough, claimed glam rock as his own and rode that rocket into the upper stratosphere of the space he so comfortably claimed as home.
Succumbing to AIDS in 1983, 10 years almost to the date that he was signed to a noteworthy (at the time) $500,000 contract, Jobriath lovers abound still. Everyone from Morrissey to actress and performance artist Ann Magnusson – who just launched a campaign to do a Jobriath tribute that’s so elaborate that even Jobriath would have approved – are in on the cool.
And here it is: from a show long since dead, “The Midnight Special” you have Jobriath’s rendition of “I’maman.” Introduced by Gladys Knight (of the Pips) no less.
See it. Believe it. Jobriath we hardly knew ye: