Seven Reasons To Shake Your Ass And Celebrate Diana Ross On Her 70th Birthday

DianaRoss1One of the world’s most iconic entertainers is hitting the big 7-0 today, and there’s never been a better time to get on your feet and commemorate The Boss with a dance party at your desk.

The legendary Diana Ross is not just an entertainer — she’s a pioneer, an ally, and an inspiration to a majority of the chart-topping superstars that sprung in her wake. Today, on her 70th birthday, we celebrate the record-setting career that inspired a community to Come Out, compelled the world to Survive, and turned the dancefloor Upside Down.

She embraced the gay community from the start

Diana Ross became the patron saint of gays in 1979 when she recorded “I’m Coming Out”, her second hit single that went on to become an instant gay anthem, which was played during “coming out” montages on television for decades to come and christened the dance floor of every disco since.

Songwriter Nile Rodgers reportedly wrote the song after watching three drag queens dressed as Diana Ross perform in New York City.


She gives Detroit a good name

We really don’t have to explain that the city of Detroit, Michigan gets a bad rap. But people often forget that in its glory days, Detroit paved the way for the automotive industry and Motown, a music genre that would shape the future of modern-day hip-hop.

Specifically, Ross grew up in the now-demolished Brewster Projects, a public housing neighborhood that also raised Mary Wilson, Lily Tomlin, and RuPaul.

She inspired Dreamgirls

If it weren’t for Diana Ross and the tumultuous first years of her career, Broadway would never have been blessed with Dreamgirls, Beyoncé would never have been nominated for a Golden Globe award, and Jennifer Hudson would never have sang “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going“.

The character Deena Jones was directly inspired by Diana Ross, and even though she technically has never seen the film, that doesn’t mean it’s any less iconic.

She paved the way for African American artists to find mainstream success

Diana Ross and Motown Records single-handedly brought African American music to the forefront of American culture in the 1960’s, and fought for the right to be accepted as equal on predominantly white radio. She later brought African American culture and soul music to television by starring in Mahogany (1975) and The Wiz (1978).

She went on to inspire the careers of Michael Jackson, Beyoncé, Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Kelly Rowland, Lil’ Kim, Solange, Fergie, Jennifer Lopez, Mary J Blige, Leona Lewis, RuPaul, Rihanna and Nicole Scherzinger.

She performed in a 95-degree torrential downpour

As a testament to just how far Miss Ross would go for her unwavering fans, the unbreakable diva performed for 450,000 fans in Central Park in 1983 despite the sweltering heat and a downpour so thick she could barely open her eyes. “It took me a lifetime to get here, and I’m not going anywhere,” she told her fans.

The event became so iconic that it was memorialized in a 30-year anniversary DVD released last year, Diana Ross: Live In Central Park.


She is literally “the most successful female artist in history”

Miss Ross holds a Guinness Book record for being “the most successful female entertainer in history,” boasting more hits than any female artist in the charts with a career total of 70 hit singles and more than 100 million records sold worldwide.

She, along with The Supremes, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. She is also one of few artists who have two different stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

She shut down West Hollywood to perform with RuPaul

Miss Ross inspired RuPaul’s career, and therefore, is 100% responsible for the creation of RuPaul’s Drag Race, “Supermodel,” and You betta werk!

In 1996, she showed her true colors as a diehard LGBT ally by inviting Mama Ru to perform “I Will Survive” with her on a stage in the middle of Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood. Gay icon status certified.

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  • RomanHans

    Hey, thanks for that! I have a tendency to write her off: I’m apparently one of the few gay men who just can’t stand divas. Then there’s that “Call me MISS Ross” business and Cindy Birdsong’s sad fate. But she’s been a good friend to us, and she clearly deserves our support and praise.

  • maxdadmark

    @RomanHans: Before your sound off, get your facts straight. It was Florence Ballard, an ORIGINAL Supreme who died of a heart attack in 1976.

  • maxdadmark

    An older Facebook acquaintance of mine (from my hometown) responded this way to my reposting of this article” “She was also boycotted for decades by the gay community for her bullying of Mary Wilson and the other Supremes back in the day. She had to cancel engagements because no one cared to see her. She’s only of recent to be forgiven….” Anyone aware of a boycott?

  • Metro135

    Miss Ross is NOT the most successful female entertainer in history. She has exactly two platinum albums, and one of those is a soundtrack. Compare that to Barbra Streisand, who has something like 33 platinum and multi-platinum albums.

    And quite a few of those 70 hit singles are not hers alone; they belong to the other Supremes too.

  • p-candotorg

    “Miss Ross” is 70 and still looking great. She made one of my highlight in my life of Design and entertainment. She invited me to dance cheek to cheek to one of her love songs, in front of twenty thousand fans during her concert in Hong Kong. All that for handing her one red Baccara long stemmed Rose. My friend the organizer Andrew Bull is my witness as I don’t have a picture myself of it. Sadly then nothing was digital and cameras and flash photography by fans were not permitted during shows. I chased the Hong Kong Standard newspaper but to no avail :-)
    So I guess all I have left is that flamboyant souvenir and girls wanting to touch my cheeks after the concert haha no boys wanting ..why not :-)?

  • stanhope

    Diana Ross is incredible. She’s never gotten what she was truly due. Happy Birthday Diana!

  • blondeboyz

    I had the pleasure of seeing Diana in concert many years ago. There was no doubt that she truly loves her fans. It came across loud and clear. Loved her then, love her now. Gay icon for sure!

  • DickieJohnson

    Happy Birthday, indeed, Diana! She, and The Supremes, provided the “soundtrack” for my early gay life, 1967 and onward. LOVE! LOVE! LOVE!

  • jckfmsincty

    It’s just unfortunate timing that Liza Minelli (“Cabaret”) and Diana Ross (“Lady Sings the Blues”) were both nominated for the Best Actress Academy Award in 1972. They were equally deserving. That’s just the way the Oscar crumbles, I guess.

  • dvlaries

    For white kids who already liked black music sounds and R&B, the release of “Where Did Our Love Go,” on June 17, 1964, was as iconic a date and moment as The Beatles first performance on Sullivan, earlier that year. The record was everywhere that summer, and we knew, if Diane, Florence and Mary kept putting them out sounding that good, we’d only begun our buying.
    It is overstatement, however, to suggest Ross and Motown single-handedly raised the profile of Detroit for baby-boomers and generations after. She, with and without the Supremes, was certainly the company’s female iconic cornerstone, but The Marvelettes, The Miracles, Mary Wells, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and Martha & the Vandellas had already locked us in as loyal fans, and they never lost us as The Supremes juggernaut took flight too. In fact, of the founding artists of Motown, only the Four Tops -by one month- took longer getting out of the gate with an important first, identity-establishing hit. Those who don’t know that need to return to Motown 101 remedial class.
    One correction: “I’m Coming Out” was a September 1980 single release, not 1979. Her 1979 singles were “The Boss” and “It’s My House.”

  • Cam

    Very cool post. happy birthday to her!

  • BrandoPolo

    Happy birthday to the boss.

  • jonjct

    I DO remember that she was cancelling shows because she couldn’t sell any tickets. And it has been said that she is rude and difficult to work with. Even recently she huffed out of an LA restaurant after they refused to seat her before her daughter and dinner companion arrived. She’s not really all that. BUT I also remember 1980 and “I’m coming out”, and how that was THE anthem for gay guys in NYC. Sadly, the unstoppable gay movement was stopped literally dead in it’s tracks by HIV. Anyway, I like some of the other divas much better, including the late, great Amy Winehouse.

  • seaguy

    Call her Miss Ross!

  • Horus 009

    She is a beautiful women and had an abundance of very black hair.
    She dressed
    befitting and elegant?

  • grandiron


    FALSE. The late Donna Summer was rumored to have said that AIDS was god’s punishment for homosexuality. She was boycotted by gay fans. The statement, however, was completely untrue. Gays have never “boycotted” Ross. People certainly don’t like her because of her ascent at Motown. Many other artists, particularly female singers with “better” voices have always felt Ross shouldn’t have gotten her due. The fact of the matter is, Ross didn’t “do” anything to anyone. She was the primary lead singer on the group’s earliest album. Much of what was dramatized in “Dreamgirls”, a wonderful musical and film, is fiction. Ross’s “pop” friendly voice resonated with white folks more than say, a larger, more powerful voiced singer may have. The Supremes were hits with teenagers of all colors as well as the supper club audiences.

  • grandiron

    @jonjct: Her shows in 2000 were canceled largely because she was touring with two women who were Supremes after she left the group. She got a lot of bad press for this tour although it was sold out at it’s last performance at Madison Square Garden and fans got to hear numerous songs that she hadn’t performed in over 30 years. She has been touring very consistently since 2007 and if you look at Billboard or any other trade magazine which tracks concert ticket sales, you’ll see that the vast majority of her venues are 90-100% sold out. She is hitting the road again this summer and most dates are already sold out. She’s no more difficult to work with, I imagine than Madonna, Cher or Streisand.

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