In the echelon of pop divas, few rank higher than Janet Damita Jo Jackson. And as a gay icon, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone with her multi-platinum track record of LGBT support. Yet, for some reason, when lumping together the great ladies in our iconic pantheon — the Chers, the Madonnas, the Judys, even the Beys — her name is often and conspicuously absent. Meanwhile, what has Streisand done for you lately?
Though Ms. Jackson neither confirmed nor denied that a new album is in the works — those Jacksons are notoriously cagey — the thought of Janet’s return had the kids collectively clutching their pearls. It’s time we give Janet her dues as the other Queen of Pop, especially when you consider how much she's given the most recent queen of gays, Beyonce, who was honored by MTV with the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. (The same honor bestowed upon Janet herself in 1990.)
1. She taught us to dance.
“Get the point? Good. Let’s dance.”
- “Let’s Dance (Interlude)”, Rhythm Nation (1989)
Before Janet, women weren’t dancing this hard or this fierce or this sexy. Sure, Madonna was hopping around in mesh and lace — and that was real cute for her — but Janet pelvic-thrusted her way into stardom (with the help of a young, coherent Paula Abdul). And in households across the world, kids like me and you and Beyoncé were taking notes and learning each move on our own roads to fame — Bey took the HOV lane. Proof positive: crank up the dance break from “If” and guaranteed a gaggle of gays will come flocking from seemingly nowhere and tut that shit out perfectly.
3. She taught us to love sex. Like, a lot.
“Anytime and any place/ I don’t care who’s around”
- “Any Time, Any Place,” janet. (1993)
The sexual flowering of Janet Jackson occurred on September 13, 1990*. That’s when she made the video for “Love Will Never Do (Without You)”, and from thence Janet was nobody’s little sister. Ms. Jackson began talking and cooing candidly about sex, advocating it as something to (safely) enjoy. As often as possible. And she’s provided a tantric-length soundtrack of lovemaking tunes over the years to assist in her sexual revolution.
4. She recorded one of the definitive gay anthems.
“Dream about us together again”
- “Together Again, The Velvet Rope (1998)
Lady Gaga, I’mma let you finish, but Janet Jackson recorded one the greatest gay anthems of all time. An ode to a friend she lost to AIDS, “Together Again” is nonetheless an exuberant celebration of life that always gets the kids out of their seats and onto their feets.
6. She’s inspired a generation.
9. She has the receipts.
“I had a few hits before now didn’t I?”
- “Truth”, All for You (2001)
Janet is one of the most successful artists in pop history, having sold and broken records with nothing more than a pop of her shoulder, a toss of a lacefront wig and the flash of that billion watt smile. Let’s take a quick scan of the receipts: 6 Grammys, an Emmy, an Oscar nomination, over 140 million records sold, 10 number one singles…and yet where’s the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction? Ms. Jackson was eligible in 2007, the same year as Madonna — who was inducted the following year by, guess who, Justin Timberlake. Naturally