It was not only ground breaking queer television that captured headlines this year. Some eclectic and long-awaited records by gay artists and queer favorites were released in the past 12 months.
Soul diva Beyoncé Knowles was able to maintain a No. 1 position in the Billboard chart for a staggering 17 weeks. Even though a painful slip of the tongue upset some of her gay following, she apologized and moved on. Her R&B infused pop on “Dangerously In Love” has put her in position for 2004 (and the February Grammy ceremony).
Hunk Justin Timberlake established himself as the new poster boy for male pop and became an instant gay icon when he told New York’s Next Magazine, “Music is music — it’s the universal language. And whether you’re gay, straight, black, white, you know, whatever, you like what you like.”
Pop princess Christina Aguilera gained respect from gay fans for the explicitly gay and transgender images in her video for the song “Beautiful.” At the GLAAD Media Awards, the singer received special recognition for furthering the gay acceptance in the mainstream.
The Cash family and the music world experienced loss this year with the passing of country legend Johnny Cash in September and his wife June Carter Cash in May.
Daughter Rosanne Cash continues to carry her family’s torch of quality country-rock. The singer put out “Rules Of Travel,” which was one of the best records of the year.
If there was an award for Best Publicity Stunt of the Year, the most deserving artists would be Madonna and Britney Spears for their carefully planned smooch at the MTV Video Music Awards.
The two artists received more credit from the media for the kiss than for their new record releases this year.
Madonna's “American Life” was a disappointing effort, despite raising some valid questions about materialism in American society. But it is hardly credible for the diva to kick the system that created her.
The Britney phenomenon lives on with the release of “In The Zone,” which turned out to be a chaotic barrage of beats featuring the popster’s breathy vocals. It shows once again that sex appeal often overshadows artistic effort.
Speculation about Clay Aiken's sexual orientation is as prominent as his larger-than-life vocals. The runner-up of American Idol’s second season had one of the best-selling singles of the year with “This Is The Night.” His debut record “Measure Of A Man” surprised many for its mature pop sound.
Nelly Furtado shows that there is hope beyond the teen pop ruins. The spunky singer is on top of her game with the genre-crossing “Folkore” that features an intelligent mix of world beats, the Canadian’s fresh energy and a message of tolerance and empowerment.
Gay singer-songwriters Rufus Wainwright and Eric Himan also made their mark this year. Wainwright returned with the majestic “Want One” which chronicles his depression and struggle with life in New York City.
Himan released his third album “All For Show” on the independent Thumbcrown Records. The crooner’s acoustic tunes feature his earnest and personal lyrics. The small-framed and tattooed coffee house singer is a welcome face in gay music with definite break-out potential.
Annie Lennox made a comeback with the cathartic “Bare.” The disc showcases the singer’s ability to touch hearts and minds with her poignant and honest lyrics. DJ Peter Rauhofer turned two of Lenox’ tracks (“A Thousand Beautiful Things” and “Pavement Cracks”) into gay club anthems.