This Is Me: A Pride Anthem

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During Sunday’s L.A. Pride parade, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles danced past the cheering crowd to perform a choreographed rendition of “This Is Me.” To the spectators present, the joyous moment officially confirmed the song as an anthem of Pride, which will undoubtedly be replayed throughout the month of June.

The song’s journey to the parade may be unexpected. But it has all of the requisite ingredients for this distinction. “This Is Me” was written by a gay man, Benj Pasek, and his writing partner, Justin Paul. The two are known for their original songs for Smash, La La Land,and Dear Evan Hansen, the latter of which won them a Tony Award for Best Original Score.

In addition to these queer credentials, the anthem in question is from The Greatest Showman, a 2017 musical film starring Hugh Jackman as P.T. Barnum. In the production, “This Is Me” is sung by Keala Settle, who portrays a bearded lady in the Barnum & Bailey Circus. Her experience, articulated through the song, is one of resilience in the face of hardship — which, after all, is what Pride is all about.

“I am brave, I am bruised, I am who I’m meant to be, this is me,” Settle sings in an unapologetic declaration of identity that all queer people can relate to. She adds, “I’m not scared to be seen, I make no apologies, this is me.”

Get 2 Kno Me

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Pop/hip hop artist Yaysh has returned with the romantic, emotional and sexually free ‘Get 2 Kno Me’. The track is one of a string of singles the artist has been releasing over recent months. Focusing on themes of falling in love, joy and sadness, the reggae-pop song is calming yet provocative, highlighting this culture of being afraid to fall in love.

The accompanying video uses nudity to further spread her message of vulnerability and self-esteem through mock fearless love scenes, embroidered with lighter comedy. Furthermore, she emphasises diversity and the fact you have to bare it all to truly find love, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation as Yaysh explains, “We deserve to celebrate our bodies and our beauty and sexuality and feel at home with who we are. We don’t need to be ashamed.”

Yaysh on the song and video: “Nudity is being used as a metaphor and message for baring it all because being naked is a form of completely showing yourself, at least on a physical level. It is a sign of inherent confidence in being human, that there is nothing wrong with who we are, nothing wrong with love, love making, being completely naked and showing your entirety and letting people judge. We deserve to feel comfortable in our own skin and to make love and enjoy ourselves and being human fully!

“The challenge to the listener and viewer is to take a leap, take a chance and be yourself unabashedly and from there, love, joy, acceptance and warmth follow towards oneself and the world. Everyone in this video is offering a gift to the viewer of their own vulnerability. It’s a Big Message.”

He’s Funny That Way

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Bob Dylan has recorded a song for a compilation EP with a same-sex love theme called Universal Love. Dylan’s contribution to the six-song EP, which also features Kesha, St. Vincent, Ben Gibbard, Valerie June and Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke, comes with a characteristic twist: Reflecting his recent covers-heavy albums, he’s covered the 1929 song “She’s Funny That Way” with the lyrical variation “He’s Funny That Way.” The EP is released today.

Dylan is not the first to alter the pronoun in the song — which has been covered by Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, Etta James, Liza Minelli, Nat King Cole and many others since it was featured in the 1931 film “Gems of MGM” — but the point is made.

“If you look at the history of pop music, love songs have predominantly come from one heterosexual perspective,” said Tom Murphy, a co-producer of “Universal Love,” said. “If we view music as something that brings people together, shouldn’t these popular songs be open to everyone?”

Other tracks include Gibbard covering the Beatles’ “And I Love Her” (changed to “Him”) and June covering “Mad About the Boy” as “Girl.” Kesha chose Janis Joplin’s “I Need a Man to Love.” “For years I said that I’m not getting married until any two people can legally marry in this country,” she said — and is now an ordained minister who has wed to two gay couples.

You can listen to the full EP on Spotify.