Heroes of the Revolution: Patrick Cowley

Art by Rob Goldstein
The Rainbow Flag

Patrick Cowley was a gay liberationist who died as his brilliance was reaching its peak.

He is sometimes called the father of electronic dance music.

His influence is still clear in contemporary house music and techno.

Cowley played synthesizer on Sylvester’s 1978 hits “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” and “Dance (Disco Heat)” and he collaborated with Sylvester on his 1982 hit, “Do Ya Wanna Funk”

At 32, Patrick Cowley was among the first to die from the AIDS Epidemic.

Going Home is on the last track of Mind Warp, Cowley’s last album.
Cowley released Mind Warp in October of 1982, a month before he died from AIDS, which was still called GRID.

Cowley’s music embodies the energy and defiance that sparked and sustained the early Gay Liberation Movement.

“The rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.”
John F. Kennedy

Liberating the human mind and human sexuality from the constraints of fear, bigotry, hate, and superstition is what gay liberation was about.

The revolution is never over!

Happy Pride Month!

‘The City” (c) Rob Goldstein 2016

PATRICK COWLEY
Going Home 1982
by DISCOS BOLICHEROS
Internet Archive

Sylvester
“Do You Wanna Funk” 1982
by DISCOS BOLICHEROS
Internet Archive

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A Scramble of Pretty Pixels

A digital photograph of a male avatar dancing in a cave
I’ll come back to find you, I’ll never leave you now

once again,
i
vanish into
me not me
a fanciful
scramble
of
pretty pixels

streaming

on a wireless

into nothing.

RG2016

If someday I need to see you
I’ll come back from the past
I’ll come back to find you
I’ll never leave you now

Lyrics by the Information Society

INFORMATION SOCIETY-Running [Bufon]
Community Audio
The Internet Archives

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Heroes of the Revolution: Sylvester

Art by Rob Goldstein
Sylvester

Sylvester James, Jr. (September 6, 1947 – December 16, 1988), was the first openly gay recording artist to gain international fame.

His first hit, Disco Heat, peaked at #19 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the fall of 1978.

It also reached #29 on the UK Singles Chart.

Sylvester was born in Watts, Los Angeles, to a middle-class family.

He first sang as a child with the gospel choir of his Pentecostal church.

Sylvester knew that he was gay while still a child.

At the age of eight Sylvester had sex with an older man.

His Mother could not accept his homosexuality and neither could his church.

He left the church because the congregation disapproved of his homosexuality and he found friendship among a group of cross-dressers and transgender women who called themselves The Disquotays.

He moved to San Francisco in 1970 at the age of 22 where he found acceptance and fame.

“I’ve never been a crusader, but I’ve always been honest. I may not volunteer details to the media, but I’ve never believed in lying or denying what I am to anyone.” Sylvester, September 10, 1988

The English journalist Stephen Brogan described Sylvester as “a star who shined brightly. He only happened once. He was a radical and a visionary in terms of queerness, music and race.”

Sylvester was a man of integrity and courage and that courage is clear in this interview with the Los Angeles Times in September of 1988:

Sylvester learned three months ago that he has AIDS, and he has spent most of the last few weeks at home, trying to regain his strength.

While often plagued by fatigue, the singer, 40, was well enough last June to lead a gay pride parade in San Francisco, albeit from a wheelchair.

“I can’t walk very well anymore,” he said in a phone interview. “I have problems with my feet and sometimes the pain is unbearable. But I don’t like to take pain killers because of the side effects.”

Despite the physical setbacks, Sylvester insists that his outlook remains positive.

“I’ve been in situations I shouldn’t have been in. We all have. But I still think that I’m a good person and I don’t regret anything I’ve done in my life,” he said.

“Down the line, I hope I won’t be in a lot more pain. But I don’t dwell on that. I’ll be fine, because my spirit is fine.”

Sylvester says that while black people are 12% of the population, more than 25% of all reported AIDS cases in this country involve blacks.

“It bothers me that AIDS is still thought of as a gay, white male disease,” said the singer, who has long been openly frank about his homosexuality.

“The black community is at the bottom of the line when it comes to getting information, even when we’ve been so hard hit by this disease. I’d like to think that by going public myself with this, I can give other people courage to face it.”

Sylvester, who rose to international fame during the late ’70s with such disco hits as “Dance (Disco Heat)” and “You Make Me Feel Mighty Real,” had been hospitalized three times before being diagnosed as having the AIDS virus.

“I’d been having throat problems and I thought it was bronchitis. I wasn’t worried. Having AIDS hadn’t even crossed my mind.”

Since that time he has spent five weeks in a hospital with pneumocystis, during which time he confronted his own mortality. “I was ready to go,” he said. “I made peace with that and I never thought, ‘Why me?’ I just accepted it.”

Disco Singer Sylvester Confronts AIDS Without Any Regrets

Sylvester died in his bed on December 16, 1988.

For a more complete biography of Sylvester I recommend this one at  Pop Matters.

Sylvester with Patrick Cowley: Don’t Stop
Community Audio