To mark LGBT History Month, 2013, Polari asked its contributors to recall a song that had an impact on their own stories.
‘Pluto’ – Björk
by Andrew Darley
Homogenic is the album that reminds me most of my transition from school into university. No longer did I feel the need to blend in or skirt behind others; it was time for me to come into my own and figure out what I wanted of my own life. As an album, its strength lies in its directness; and the title lends from the fact it is made purely of electronics, strings and voice. Its themes of courage, strength and hope both emotionally challenged and comforted me in a period of great change in my life.
The penultimate song of the album, ‘Pluto’, became my personal mantra during these years. At the time I had acknowledged that I was attracted to men but was nowhere near comfortable with the idea. When I started college I was racked with uncertainties and fear. I held a strong level of resistance towards my sexuality. The song’s metaphor of destroying oneself to start over brand new left a huge impression on me. I clung to the idea of being able to redefine your own identity and make new beginnings for yourself. It was everything I needed to hear in my late teens and gave me hope in figuring out my own feelings. The song’s aggressive techno, unruly time signature and Björk’s exhilarating, octave-defying yells sounded like something no earthly creature could create.
The song also makes me reminisce about a lecturer I had during that first year in university, who was openly gay. He too shared a love of Björk’s music and often used her music as a reference points in class discussion. I learned so much from him about people, culture, sexuality, history; and, more importantly, to think independently. He fascinated and inspired me in ways no teacher had ever done in school and introduced me to some of my now favourite books and films.
Björk’s ‘Pluto’ was instrumental in making me see that being gay isn’t the worst or the scariest or an immoral or lesser way to be. It was an antidote to all my insecurities, anxieties and reservations about who I was and who I was holding myself back from becoming.