TLC: So Black & So Gay!

Even though NYC Black Pride aka Pride In The City seems to be in, ahem, a state of disarray, I am going to continue with the So Black & So Gay! series…

This one is for T-Boz, Left Eye, & Chili, also known as TLC. I mean when they hit the scene, 3 women wearing baggy shirts, jeans and overalls, with condoms pinned to their clothes, they were not only an overnight pop success, but a sharp distinct break from the R&B Grown & Sexy look of artists like Anita Baker and Patti Labelle. These girls gave you butch–in their dress and their attitude! Also, T-Boz–who was featured as the lead on most of their singles–has a very distinct low singing voice that many people read as butch. There were many rumors swirling that the women were lesbians, and by default, T-Boz’s health problems were thought to be AIDS-related. The women have denied the rumors they were lesbians, and T-Boz had to publicly disclose her sickle-cell anemia battle to squelch the HIV gossip.

This video, Hat 2 Da Back, was a song that celebrated their unconventional style,  with the lyrics

Being that I am the kinda girl that I am
Nobody can make me do what I dont want to
I can be myself a lot and Im proud of what I got
So Ill never change for you

Being that I am the kinda girl that I am
Tight jeans dont hit the scene with one like me
I got to be feeling free and you better believe ill
Do what pleases me

I always read songs that are about being an “individual” and “doing what you wanna do” as implicitly about queerness–sexual liberation at the least. Anyhoo, TLC has influenced Baby Dykes all over this country. When I wander the West Village, and see the butch girls in fitteds, baggy jeans and hoodies, I think of TLC! Regardless of their own sexual orientations, TLC’s influence on Black Butch aesthetic is undeniable, and is what makes them SO BLACK AND SO GAY!