When George Michael first passed on Christmas Day of last year, we were sad to realize there weren’t many tattoos of him or his lyrics out there. Since then, many adoring fans have come to pay tribute to the late great singer and songwriter, and have done justice to Michael’s memory. We initially searched to find if anyone was particularly moved by any of Wham’s songs or Michael’s prose, but it seems his message and image overall are more appealing.
Wham and George Michael’s fame came at a time when being out about homosexuality was incredibly controversial. It was the height of the AIDS epidemic — while the ‘70s seemed to be paving a way for homosexuality to be more accepted, in tandem with the sexual revolution and “Women’s Lib” of the ‘60s, the rise of HIV/AIDS made the stigma of being gay increase tenfold. Questions about a pop star’s sexuality were common (and still are) — after all, by this point, we had the gender-bending David Bowie, the bisexual Freddie Mercury, and the sad and intense outing of Rock Hudson.
Questions surrounding Michael’s orientation persisted throughout his career — until as late as 1998, when he was caught in a “lewd act” in a bathroom at a park. Like most controversies surrounding sex, this one followed Michael for a while, and was refreshed anew when in 2006 Michael was caught again. Public sex can be controversial within the gay community — cruising, as it’s known, is a common form of anonymous sex and it’s still practiced, despite most public decency laws. Whether it has any real negative effects on public health is hotly debated, and cases for decriminalization have been made.
Michael and his music have more to them than society’s usual fucked-up-ness about sex though. He was a prolific songwriter, and toured until 2012. And the world learned in Michael’s passing that the star was also a humble, secretive donor to many, many charities. He’d been recognized for his philanthropy before, but the sheer magnitude of his charitable donations and efforts weren’t fully known.
So celebrate Pride Month with us by paying homage to the late great George Michael with great George Michael tattoos. He taught us a lot about music, about sex, and about how to keep it humble and real.