This article first appeared in Attitude issue 303, December 2018.
A chart-topping Australian woman who first found fame on a daytime soap opera could describe many people: Delta Goodrem; Natalie Imbruglia; Holly Valance.
And yet only one (OK, two — I’ll get to Dannii another time) has been immortalised as a true gay icon: Miss Kylie Ann Minogue, who this year celebrated not only her 50th birthday, but also 30 years since the release of her debut album.
Long-time collaborator Will Baker examined Kylie’s gay appeal in his wonderful Kylie: La La La coffee-table book, but we can only speculate about why Kylie has been so embraced by queer fans.
It’s undeniable — when you go to a Kylie concert in 2018, the audience is very, very gay. Gay men are basically her brand, however much successive record labels have tried to market her towards the mainstream.
On the face of it, there’s little to separate Kylie from the other women I’ve listed above: she’s eminently personable, aff able, adorable and charming. Unlike Madonna or Grace Jones, Kylie has side-stepped overt sexuality or the inevitable foray into PVC-pop-fetishland ('Confide in Me' video notwithstanding).
It’s often said that to reach true gay icon status you need to have overcome adversity, and Kylie certainly did that with her much publicised battle with cancer. But, come on, Kylie was already fully inducted into the Queer Hall of Fame long before she announced her illness in 2005.
It could be argued that her glorious moment with 'Spinning Around' in 2000 was enough. True fans had stuck with her through the 'German Bold Italic' years, but achieving such a return to form after half a decade in the pop wilderness was a coup.
The fact she accomplished it by embracing her bubblegum pop roots made it all the more sweet.
I’m not sure if our adoration of her is down to any of those things in isolation. I don’t think we can overlook the reason we loved her in the first place: the music. Had Light Years been crap, Kylie’s music career would have been over.
From her very first single, Kylie’s songs have been catchier than the clap. Sure, there have been a handful of ballads, but Kylie is at home when performing synth-heavy, sugary dance-pop.
She’ll be remembered for stone-cold classics 'Better the Devil You Know', 'Wow', 'Your Disco Needs You', 'On a Night Like This', 'I Believe in You', 'Shocked', 'Slow', 'All the Lovers' and the career-defining 'Can’t Get You Out of My Head', which potentially warrants its own column.
All of the above is true, but I’ll never forget the first time I saw Kylie live. I’ve seen Madonna, Gaga and Beyoncé in concert and while, in many ways, they were superior performers, I’ll say this: I didn’t spend an evening with those women and feel I’d spent it with a friend.
And perhaps that is Kylie’s greatest strength. I asked a mate why he was such a devout Kylie fan: “I just fucking love her,” he beamed.