Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The closet and the GOP didn't own Leslie Gore

Leslie Gore died Monday in Manhattan's NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital at age 68. The New York Times reported that Lois Sasson, her partner of 33 years, said the cause was lung cancer. (Gore didn't smoke.)
     Her first hit, in 1963 at 16, It's My Party and I'll Cry If I Want To, was Quincy Jone's first pop hit too. At 18, instead of touring, she went to Sarah Lawrence College and majored in English and American Literature. That and the British Invasion stalled her career.
    In 2005, she came out:
     Gore spoke publicly for the first time about her sexuality when she hosted several episodes for a PBS series called “In the Life,” a news magazine that highlighted gay and lesbian issues. She talked about her partner, Sasson.
     “I decided to host a couple of the ‘In the Life’ programs,” she told the New York Times in 2005. “And I did that really as a result of meeting a lot of young gay people in the Midwest who really had nothing to relate to. At least I felt this program is presenting them with some options.”
     “I saw what a difference a show like ‘In the Life’ can make to their lives in some of these small towns where, you know, there are probably two gay people in the whole damn town,” she added in an interview with After Ellen. “It’s made real inroads for them. They come and talk to me about this stuff, so I know how important it is.”


If you know who Leslie Gore is, you undoubtedly have heard her big hits It's My Party, Judy's Turn to Cry, You Don't Own Me, Sunshine, and Lollipops and Rainbows. But her range and intelligence as a singer weren't defined by those alone. Listen to what she brought to Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, and Fools Rush In, below, and you'll more fully appreciate how talented and versatile a singer she really was.

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