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Rocking the ClosetHow Little Richard, Johnnie Ray, Liberace, and Johnny Mathis Queered Pop Music$
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Vincent L. Stephens

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780252042805

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252042805.001.0001

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Disquieting and Exciting: Queering Tools in Popular Music and Queer Becoming

(p.179) Conclusion
Rocking the Closet

Vincent L. Stephens

University of Illinois Press

This chapter argues that the Queering Toolkit remains relevant for understanding contemporary performers and describes the emergence of new tools. The chapter briefly explores enfreakment and spectacle in the careers of Michael Jackson and Prince and the intentional self-neutering and domestication of Clay Aiken. It also examines the straight-queer gestures of Justin Timberlake’s career. Queer aspects of musical performers’ public personae remain legible to contemporary audiences. Even with the rise of LGBTQ politics and greater acceptance of sexual and gender diversity, elements of shame and ambivalence color the experiences of queer people. Queerness remains a process of becoming. The chapter suggests how the toolkit could affect readings of female-identified and nonbinary performers, as well as other genres such as jazz, in the future.

Keywords:   enfreakment, spectacle, Michael Jackson, Prince, Clay Aiken, self-neutering, domestication, straight-queer, LGBTQ politics, Justin Timberlake

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