At last night’s Duncan Sheik concert, as Jeff and I were sitting together in the bar/bandstand later in the evening after having (at least initially) talked about the issue that was troubling me, a young man walked over and asked if he could ask us a question. We said sure, though admittedly there was a little tension, given the combination of circumstances. He then launched into an odd, awkward, halting question about what we thought about Duncan’s appeal to gay fans, followed by apologies about not meaning to offend us, not feeling like he’d made the right impression, etc.
I actually found his honesty and willingness to approach us endearing (but are we that obviously queer?), and I was intrigued by the question, though it initially was phrased so ambiguously that I was confused as to whether he was saying that he thought either 1) that Duncan would have more gay fans than seemed apparent from the crowd last night, or 2) conversely, that he saw a number of seemingly gay folk at the concert, but couldn’t understand why we would find Duncan’s music appealing. I asked him to clarify precisely that, and it turned out that the second was his intent. (As an aside, while I saw a few couples I thought were gay, and one guy I know is, the numbers didn’t seem unusually high, and I’d have estimated that the proportion of gay to straight at last night’s concert probably pretty closely mirrored that in the general population.)
His assertion, in fact, was that Sheik’s songs, to him, seemed really pretty clearly and directly linked to the heterosexual experience. And, certainly, Sheik’s songs do seem to draw quite often upon an exploration of the mysteries of women and being in (or out of) relationship with them.
My response, though, was that it was precisely the emotional openness, the raw honesty of Sheik’s lyrics and delivery, and his exploration of the thoughts and feelings resident in human relationships (he might sing about women, because of his own direct experience, but the situations, ideas and emotions he describes seem pretty universal) that I personally found appealing, and that might similarly be appealing to other gay men. What I also thought about as Jeff and I were walking to the car, though too late for the conversation, was that Sheik often expresses a sense of alienation and loss in his lyrics, additional concepts that seem to have a particular resonance for gay fans.
I also didn’t mention in the conversation with our new acquaintance, though I mused to Jeff later, that it doesn’t hurt that Sheik is so cute.
He sat with us for a while, and we talked about music, our lives, and our homes. It was an interesting, brief–yet simultaneously satisfyingly genuine–connection, and we’ll probably never see him again. I do find myself wondering, though, if there’s more to the story; he presented himself, without saying so explicitly, as heterosexual, yet there was an element to the conversation that left me curious as to whether that’s the whole truth, that maybe there’s something even he–or perhaps even especially he–hasn’t yet recognized. Or it could be I just think that because he was cute.