Monday, March 31, 2014

Queering Taylor Hanson

It's finally spring (or almost spring, if you're among our long-suffering Upper Midwestern kin).  The days are longer, the air is warmer. People are starting to regain that sense of carefree hopefulness buoyed by the fresh air. It's a season perfectly suited to putting all of your favorite bubblegum pop songs at the top of the playlist and blissing out in the sunshine. And on that note, I have a confession to make. I am, and have long been, a Hanson fan. Many people in my life already know, and even embrace, this fact.  Others may have come into this information at some point prior, and depending on personality, filed it away in one of three mental folders: "Things I Wish I Had Not Learned," "Things I Will Not Speak of In Order to Spare My Friend Shame," and "Ways to Shame Friends." In my case, the potential for shaming is quite extensive given that I can't excuse my love for this band as a phase I merely passed through in junior high. Nope. I still listen to them. I went to my first Hanson show not in 1997, but in 2007. I own post-MMMBop Hanson albums that most people probably don't know were ever made (you should really check out their third album, P.S...).

At times I have kept my Hanson love deeply closeted, due to obvious fear of social stigma.  Still, it comes up from time to time, and the more it's come up over the years, the more I have discovered the extent to which a vast number of genderqueer folks, lesbians and trans guys of my generation share this obsession.  I won't name names (apologies to those who are found guilty by association.  Feel free to unfriend me on Facebook. Save yourselves. I'll understand), but it's uncanny - almost person to person, folks I know across the transmasculine spectrum who are around my same age are Hanson fans.

Why is this, you might ask?  It's possible us genderqueer/lesbian/trans dudes just have a super heightened appreciation of stupidly catchy hooks and three-part harmony. But I think it's because we secretly identify deeply with one Mr. Taylor Hanson.  How could we not?  When he and his brothers first hit it big, his high-pitched voice and long hair made everyone think he was a girl. Unlike elsewhere in the U.S., Hanson was not in vogue at all among my junior high classmates and Taylor's androgyny was one of the reasons.  Taylor Hanson brought out the best in sullen teenage America's homophobia and transphobia. But girlish as he may have been, Taylor's tomboyish streak, arguably queer masculinity, and overall gender ambiguity mesmerized me.

After MMMBop, Hanson largely faded from the mainstream. Taylor is still down in Oklahoma somewhere with a wife and a bajillion kids and counting.  I'm pretty sure he's a conservative and/or some kind of born-again Christian.  But for a while in 1997, he performed a lovely kind of gender non-conformity in the public eye, without flinching, and for that, I suspect, he has forever endeared himself to lesbians and genderqueers the world over.                 

No comments:

Post a Comment