Rainbow Rant: Aretha Franklin is dead and I don't feel so good myself

Cameron Scott
Aretha Franklin

The Queen of Soul is dead. The one who taught us how to spell R-E-S-P-E-C-T has gone on to glory. This has me thinking about how many of our beloved icons have left this Earth, and what this means for us.

Many a gay icon has crossed over to the other side, including actresses such as Bette Davis and pioneers such as singer Whitney Houston. They come and slay our lives, but like everyone else they must one day die.

I wonder what's gonna happen when someone like Beyonce dies? Or Madonna? Queers all over the world will lose their minds, holding vigils in various gayborhoods, or whatever is left of the gayborhoods by then. But judging by the current pop-culture climate, the way in which we see our gay icons might be changing.

It seems like we are moving away from the pop-culture powerhouse archetype that has been so prevalent in the past. Our next gay icon may very well be some very talkative social media personality who hails from a nondescript location somewhere in the middle of Montana. Personally, being a child of the '80s who grew up with Madonna, Janet and Michael Jackson, Whitney and Beyonce, I am not happy about this one bit.

We have lost many music and pop-culture idols these past few years, with Aretha being the most recent. At the rate we are going, our gay idols may come from other cultural arenas in the future.

We are in a new day and age where activism and other entertainment mediums are moving to the forefront. Back when queer folks had to hide in the shadows and suffer relentless discrimination, we looked towards pop-culture figures as the catalyst for inspiration, and those idols usually hailed from the music and the movie industries.

If our queer idols became activist heroes and the like, the way we celebrate them would surely change. Can you imagine if instead of performing the new, big song from one of the day's dominant music divas, drag queens instead performed oratory dissertations to which we could all scream, “YAAAS!”?

It may sound kind of progressive, but this queer man doesn't like this vision. I like my drag messy and loud, as well as my gay icons. I hope and pray that mothers keep birthing fierce, ruling divas and divos for all of us to try to emulate and obsess over. Or maybe I'm just getting old and crabby.

R.I.P., Aretha.