I Was Born This Way

Music by Chris Spierer, lyrics by Bunny Jones, 1975

"I Was Born This Way" is considered the first gay pride anthem. How do the lyrics assert pride?

How does the song challenge stereotypes about gay people?

Of the first two recordings of the song, Carl Bean's disco version was more successful. Putting aside the fact that Bean's recording benefited from better promotion, why do you think the disco version was more successful? How was gay culture associated with disco?

Even though Bean's recording was more successful than Valentino's, it never attained the popularity of the disco hits of the Village People, a band that was also associated with gay culture. Compare "I Was Born This Way" to "YMCA". Why might the Village People's lyrics have been more tolerable by mainstream 1970s society?

"I Was Born This Way" recorded by Valentino on I Was Born This Way. Available on iTunes and YouTube.

"I Was Born This Way" recorded by Carl Bean on Spotify:


Rights have not been secured to reprint the words for this song. Please consult this online source


Valentino on the cover of Pop Music magazine.

"I Was Born This Way" was the first commercially available gay anthem, proudly proclaiming, "I'm happy, I'm carefree, and I'm gay." The lyrics were written in 1971 by Bunny Jones, who is straight but is a strong ally of the gay community. She counted many gays among her friends, and, as she later related, she "began to feel that gays are more suppressed than blacks, Chicanos, or other minorities" (quoted in Brathwaite).

"I Was Born This Way" was recorded twice in the mid-1970s. The first recording, by Valentino (Charles Harris) in 1975, was released by the sexually tolerant label Gaiee, Jones's short-lived subsidiary of Motown. This was the only song released on that label, since Motown, which had only minimally tried to promote the recording, discontinued Gaiee shortly after its release. With its lively Motown sound, Valentino's recording was popular in clubs. Two years later, in 1977, Jones and Motown issued a second recording with singer Carl Bean. In contrast to Valentino's recording, Bean's rendition features an arrangement typical of disco: a driving beat in the drums and bass, punctuated by a slick orchestral arrangement.

Motown distributed Bean's record only to discos. Although the recording launched Bean's career, it did not become a mainstream hit.



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