Thirty years ago, disco superstar Sylvester died of complications from AIDS. But, as the AIDS Memorial recently noted, with his openness of his sexuality and identity, he is still an LGBTQ icon for today.
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— "I believe this was the last photograph ever taken of Sylvester James Jr. (September 6, 1947 – December 16, 1988). . Sylvester knew he was deteriorating and allowed me to photograph him to help others. . I gave Sylvester the option of not being in my “Faces of AIDS “ exhibit, but he said his death was not an option." — by Jim Wigler @jimwigler . 📷 © Jim Wigler . #whatisrememberedlives #theaidsmemorial #aidsmemorial #neverforget #endaids
Earlier this year NPR in a segment lauding the legendary artist and his hit ‘You Make Me Feel (Mighty real)’ they said of the disco impresario, “For him to be celebrated for all of his strangeness and all of the ways he inhabited who he wanted to be — who he felt himself to be — felt like you being celebrated for that.”
They continued: “And it wasn’t just how Sylvester looked and sounded. The song’s lyrics openly celebrated that liberation:
When we’re out there dancing on the floor, darlin’
And I feel like I need some more
And I feel your body close to mine
And I know, my love, it’s about that time
Make me feel mighty real”
Joshua Gamson, Sylvester’s biographer said of Sylvester, “You’ve got the words of a person who is just matter-of-fact about their sexual desires, about the freedom to do with their bodies and their desires whatever they want to do, and you can dance to it!”
Long before people identified as gender fluid and challenged the status quo, Sylvester did it in legendary fashion.
Sleep in peace, Sylvester.
Watch him perform ‘You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) below.