To mark LGBT History Month, 2013, Polari asked its contributors to recall a song that had an impact on their own stories.
‘Sunday Morning’ – No Doubt
by Eva Monkey
You came in with the breeze …
The first girl I ever asked out I invited to a No Doubt show. She couldn’t come because she had a shift on the tills at Sainsbury’s, but she ended up becoming my High School Girlfriend, and the random stranger I took instead ended up becoming my Queer BFF. Gwen Stefani Saves Lives.
Ilford is a lonely social desert for a little queer kid, and the early ’90s were the Ilford of my lifetime. By the ‘9os I had thrown myself body and soul into Film, my internal life was entirely based on the imaginary social life I built through my dad’s dodgy Sky hook-up. I skulked around school with a faux grunge attitude to fend off the knuckledraggers that were my peers. I cultivated an attitude of mournful weirdness, and hoped that no one asked any probing questions. I have always been the kind of queer that can’t quit. I couldn’t ever figure out how to tone it down, so I slapped a layer of false cool on it that fooled no-one. I’d never heard of Nirvana, The Cure, The Smiths, I didn’t get the subtext of REM songs. I didn’t really give a shit about music, I just listened to leftover hand-me-downs from my equally disinterested parents, and I had no friends to transmit Bikini Kill albums to me like a much needed virus. I had River Phoenix, and that would do.
With no connection to the alternative, the cure had to come to me through the mainstream. No Doubt were a hot breath of peppy, poppy, Californian ska-punk, into my very grey and deliberately unobtrusive existence. Bright, unabashedly straightforward, jumpy-up-and-downy fun with the obligatory ‘life’s tough’ lyrics and hook-laden bounciness. Until I got into No Doubt I hadn’t realised I was supposed to be Having Fun. I started going out just to dance to them, to jump up and down at the alternative nights in shitty Essex nightclubs (holla Romford!). I bought ridiculously bright idiotic clothing, and learned the greatest lesson in the queer handbook – Get In Their Faces. No one will give you a break because you are being quiet. Get loud, Get Re-dickerlous. Dance on their fucking hatred, and you may not win, but you will have a better time than them.
When there is no alternative you will take what you can get. I used to get books about AIDS out of the library when I was 9, because they mentioned gays in them. I was obsessed with Jeffrey Dahmer because my dad’s copy of The Sun said he was ‘Homosexual’. I developed an alarming fixation on the Joan Jett-alike scruff Jo from the dreadful TV show The Facts of Life, to the point where I cried because she got a boyfriend. When in a queer desert, you search for water. You’ll run towards any mirage just to get closer to the well. I was looking so hard to be saved from this solitary world of out-of-date imaginary boys I could be, and girls I could love. I remember how deep I thought the lyrics to ‘Sunday Morning’ were, how the video was ‘genius’, (why is Terry Hall on that swing chair?), but there is no denying that it is a hell of a lot of FUN. And god knows, as a 16 year-old, fun was all I wanted.