To mark LGBT History Month, 2013, Polari asked its contributors to recall a song that had an impact on their own stories.
‘Sexy Boy’ – Air
by David Robson
I first heard ‘Sexy Boy’ when listening to BBC Radio 1’s chart countdown on a Sunday back in early 1998. I used to listen to the chart show EVERY Sunday without fail. There I would sit in my Gran’s dining room, through all seasons, and not move until I knew what the Number 1 was. I even went to the lengths of writing down the entire chart from 40-1 every single week until eventually I started to venture further afield. I think they may still be stored away somewhere in my old room back up in the North East. Upon first listen I liked the song but it would take a year before I realised the impact it would have upon me.
When the advert came on for Queer as Folk I was hypnotised. I remember thinking I have to see this, but how? My Gran was (and still is) very strict and when we went to bed there was to be NO telly allowed after 10 0’clock. If you were caught watching it, you most certainly would get a slap! So I came up with a genius plan of setting the timer on the VCR so I had a copy to watch if I got caught out watching it in my room. I managed to watch the first episode with the volume on very low and with the subtitles so I could follow the plot.
When the second episode aired of QAF it started with a bang. ‘Sexy Boy’ was used over a montage to follow the lives of the three central characters in their daily lives. ‘Sexy Boy’ took on a whole new meaning to me after this. It set off a firework of thoughts and feelings I hadn’t realised were there. It was my sexuality awakening. Watching Nathan Maloney (Charlie Hunham) strut down the school corridors looking at boys bums and smiling confidently made me green with envy. I wanted to be him so much at the time. He was my role model, not to mention so sexy.
I’d been having early experiences with a boy who lived not too far away from my house. It was nothing too sexually deviant. I was very prudish back then. However, it was enough to know I was starting to feel that boys were the way forward for me. Though there was one problem … we hadn’t yet kissed. I really wanted to, only I couldn’t pluck up the courage.
He was the pin-up boy your parents didn’t want you hanging around with. He smoke, he drank, got into trouble with the police, and he was straight. He was very much a lad’s lad and I fancied him rotten.
I may not have been brave enough to realise my sexuality at school but after hearing ‘Sexy Boy’ it gave me the confidence to pin said ‘lad’s lad’ against the wall of his house and have my first gay kiss. It was all so dangerous, new and exciting especially when we had the added danger of getting caught out by our parents.
Every time I hear that electro synth intro and breathy chorus intro I am sent right back to 1999. I am reminded of my first love. I look back on that time with him now with real fondness and affection. We may not have had the optimistic ending of Beautiful Thing but we had the perfect kiss.