WATCH: A Look Back At Tom Robinson’s Queer Anthem “Glad To Be Gay”

We were moseying around the Internet and came across this old nugget from Tom Robinson, the gay voice of London’s Punk and New Wave scene in the 1970s. In 1978, the Tom Robinson Band released “Glad to Be Gay,” a hard-edged working-class song criticizing England’s treatment of gay people, with verses about police harassment, stereotyping in the press and gay-bashing. Though it was originally banned by BBC Radio 1, it’s long been considered a gay anthem in the UK.

A minor celebrity in the UK, Robinson made headlines in the ’90s, when the tabloids discovered he was married to a woman and had kids. He classifies himself as a “gay man who fell in love with a woman.”

BTW, We dig Robinson’s banner, but given that it’s a gay anthem, is a fist really what you wanna go with?


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  • Mr. Enemabag Jones

    Oh! The man who never had a long term relationship with a man, yet got a woman pregnant, and married her so he could father more kids. The same man who denied being straight, and stated he never stopped being gay, yet today calls himself bisexual, and “mostly” heterosexual.

    That was one of the saddest parts about the 1980’s–AIDS sent a lot of the loudest advocates for gay equality into the arms of women. It’s easy to be rah-rah super gay when no one is dying.

  • DrewSF

    Actually Enemabag Jones Tom Robinson is bisexual and always has been. He just identified as gay before he realized that he’s bisexual. This is actually a lot more common than people especially biphobic gay men want to admit. Furthermore just because someone is bisexual it does not mean that they somehow stop being a part of the LGBT community, fighting for LGBT rights and equality, and that they did this because of HIV/AIDS.

  • Dave

    Queerty you should edit the article Tom identifies as bisexual and has been out as bisexual for awhile, he does not self identify as you claim.

  • David

    Lots of misinfo here. I spent some time with Tom in the seventies and eighties, and many boys did much more than turn his head. In fact if you check out pictures of his wife around the time they met, she looked a lot more boy than girl.

    Tom was a founder a founder of Rock Against Racism in the days of neo-nazi skinheads and Margaret Thatcher. That was a black power fist. He was a leftist radical and penned songs with lines like “left is right and right is wrong, you better decide which side you’re on.”

    He was a top ten artist in England who came out and made an issue of it. He was a big hit when his band first broke. And he’s worthy of more research and respect than this.

  • Yul Brynner

    This guy has always pissed me off. It’s great that he feels happy now with a wife and kids, but he stopped struggling with us a long time ago – as far as I’m concerned, he’s not a part of my community. When he goes out into the street hand-in-hand with his gay partner, weathering the stares and clucks of bigoted straights? Then we’ll talk.

  • Mike

    Way to be a complete bigot and show how you’re biphobic Yul Brynner. Bisexuals are just as valid of a sexual orientation as gays and lesbians are, and bisexuals are just as much a part of the LGBT community as gay men and lesbians are.

    As far as I’m concerned bigots like you are not a part of the LGBT community or for LGBT equality. You might as well go support the Bachmanns, vote for Romney, or join the Westboro Baptists since you’re a total hypocrite and not for LGBT rights at all.

  • MMDD

    @Mike: Oh, please. A bisexual who partners with a member of the opposite sex and for all practical purposes is viewed by society as straight gets virtually NO stigma whatsoever. Doesn’t change the validity of their orientation or their involvement in the LGBT community necessarily; but for goodness’ sake, call a spade a spade. Many bisexuals just choose to “disappear” into the straight world. Yul Brynner’s statement holds some validity.

  • MMDD

    @David: So does he still have sex with men, or is he 100% faithful to his wife?

  • Jay

    MMDD-What about all of the gay men and lesbians who choose to stay closeted and partner with someone of the opposite gender, or get into a marriages of convenience? Most gay men and lesbians worldwide and even in the western world are in marriages like this, or have done this and even gay men and lesbians can and do easily pass as “straight” even if they are not married or partnered.

  • Tomas

    There are a whole shit load of latent bisexuals masquerading around as gay men because they are ignorant of the fact that bisexual doesn’t only mean an equal attraction to both genders or they’re too scared to admit it because they’ve invested so much of their time and energy cultivating a gay identity, or they think that because they only want a relationship with a man that it makes them “gay” despite being sexually attracted to both genders, and because a lot of gay men are highly biphobic and practice bisexual erasure.

    There are some gay men like Yul, Enemabag, and MMDD who are highly bigoted towards bisexual men as they have shown. Just like there are some lesbians who dislike bisexual women and trans women. These factors are also reasons why men and women who are bisexual yet call themselves gay or lesbian do not want to come out.

    The dirty little secret that never gets addressed in the so called “gay” world is the fact that many gay men do go through a second coming out and re-identify as bisexual. These men may still overwhelmingly prefer men, but their orientation and identity are not exclusively towards men, and they’re sexually attracted to both genders. Their attraction to both sexes manifests differently as well.

    It’s always weird to be corrected by someone (e.g., Yul, Enemabag, and MMDD, ) who is wrong in their knowledge of a subject. I’ve found that if you dare to even allude to someone not being not quite “gay” (in other words bisexual) then you get the typical apoplectic reaction–oh no, no, no, he’s gay, he’s definitely gay, absolutely, no question about it, and on and on and on. So many gay men are so fucking bi-phobic it’s unreal–and it’s usually because they don’t understand the concept in the first place and they’ve made no attempt to do so.

  • Mark

    I wonder when the homosexist members of the LGBT movement will finally acknowledge that bisexuals and bisexuality exist, that our sexuality is as legitimate as theirs, and that the civil and human rights gains that have been made for LGBT people would not have been made without the involvement, commitment, hard work and sacrifice of bisexuals. Then again what else can we expect from Gay and Lesbian Inc.?

    As for Tom Robinson he’s bisexual and how he once identified as gay before discovering that he’s bisexual isn’t uncommon. A lot of bisexual men and women identify as gay or lesbian before they realize that they’re bisexual.

  • Yul Brynner

    Oh, please. We have a right to deride those people who claim to share our struggles and yet do not. Should I claim to understand how African-Americans feel when they are discriminated against, even though I am not African-American? How about Hispanics who suffer because of their immigration status? I can feel for their plight, but it would be offensive if I chose to speak – or sing – on their behalf.

    It’s not biphobia. It is the recognition that Tom Robinson does not speak for us anymore. Why should we celebrate his anthem when he doesn’t even live within the spectrum of lives that we live?

  • MMDD

    @Tomas: I have never been bigoted toward bisexual men or women. Speak for yourself, sir.

  • MMDD

    @Jay: They aren’t doing us any favors either, and sadly they are living in their own private conflict. Bisexual people, however, who enter into opposite-sex relationships aren’t going against their own nature. They may have their own dualism issues to deal with (I’ve known many who struggle with that), but at least they aren’t living a lie by being in a hetero relationship.

  • Tomas

    Of course you’re not going to claim that you’re biphobic or that Yul somehow isn’t. *rolls eyes*

  • Dennis

    Yul go take your hatred and biphobia somewhere else, like to the Westboro baptist church. Tom Robinson has been out as bisexual for decades and has always been and always will be a part of the LGBT community and an activist for gay and bisexual men even if bigots like yourself want to revise history and claim he’s not.

  • MMDD

    @Tomas: And you’re just an anonymous Internet person who doesn’t even know me or anything about me. If a bi person can’t take criticism, then he or she needs to grow up. Same goes for gay persons, whom I have also criticized over the years.

    I know a woman who identified as lesbian for years and was heavily involved in the GLBT community. Then one day she vanished and I started asking about her. Turns out she married a man. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, said anything negative about her doing this or realizing her bisexuality. People were just very surprised, that’s all. And SHE made the choice to vanish. That’s what I’m talking about when I say many bisexuals just vanish into the straight world and no longer stand alongside their LGBT brothers and sisters. But of course, others do remain active in the community.

  • Scott

    MMDD how do you actually know that the bisexual woman isn’t active in the LGBT community? For all we know she could still be and is just living in another area, or she could be active in other ways.

    I have seen a lot of gay men and lesbians once they partner or settle down into a marriage also are no longer nearly as politically active or for LGBT rights as they once were before they were partnered. We can also claim that they too are disappearing into the status quo and are no longer concerned about LGBT rights but about their own status and conforming to heterosexual society and imitating heterosexuals. Then again a lot of gay men and lesbians completely disappear into the gay world and I saw this in the 70s and 80s with gay/LGBT ghettos and a ghetto mentality of totally disappearing from heterosexuals and the so called “straight world” that did not promote LGBT rights both politically and socially at all.

    I’m not arguing against same gender marriage but even gay men and lesbians who partner or get married wind up becoming less politically active and are no longer for the LGBT community as they once were.

  • MMDD

    @Scott: Because I live and am active in the local LGBT community. She still lives in town; she just doesn’t move in LGBT circles anymore. When she was out as a lesbian, she was EVERYWHERE, even when she had a partner.

    Yes, many partnered gays and lesbians aren’t as politically active in the community as they might have been earlier. I’m partnered and don’t get as involved in those kinds of activities anymore, BUT…I’m still involved and am a visible face and presence. She, on the other hand, has basically vanished from any LBGT circles. I’m not saying she’s turned her back on us necessarily, just speaking about her absence.

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