Let's All Stop Calling Elton John "Flamboyant"

Categories: Fiesta!

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Part of why I write is because I think words are important. They are similar to songs in that the right one in the right place at the right time can absolutely change your life. Words are not meaningless or forgettable, no matter what Depeche Mode might claim.

I wrote about the upcoming Elton John concert (Sunday, November 24, at 8 p.m. at Chaifetz Arena) for the paper this week. And while I was researching his latest tour, I was reminded of a word that makes me absolutely crazy.

I swear, in nearly every single article I read about Elton John, the writer calls him "flamboyant." Clearly, the dude is flamboyant. In fact, he might be the flamboyant-est. But to call him flamboyant (especially when that word is put into quotes) usually reads less like an accurate description of his stage show and more like a "wink-wink" comment on his sexuality.

Maybe you think I'm exaggerating, but I'll be damned if I can find more than a few articles (ever) about Elton John that don't use that word. A Google search of "Elton John" + "flamboyant" turns out almost 1 million results -- and that just reflects the items searchable since the Internet became a thing. He had a career, and an untold amount of press, for 20 to 30 years prior to regular Web documentation.

Because it is applied almost exclusively to homosexuals, "flamboyant" is one of those words that rides the line of being offensive. Like many other words in this complicated language, it carries a subtle meaning far deeper than its dictionary definition. How much weight a word carries usually depends on the context. And in the context of Elton John or any other homosexual, "flamboyant" is a dangerous word. It's a literary limp wrist.

When articles say that he is flamboyant (or "fierce" or "fabulous"), it frequently comes across as cheap writer shorthand for "I did mention that this guy is a queer, right?" Though he is, proudly, all of these things, these words subtly perpetuate stereotypes and it both bores and angers me to constantly see them in print.

Normally, I'm not really down for too much political correctness. (I'll choose humor over good taste any day, trust that.) But the fight for gay acceptance and equal rights is ongoing and important -- and I think it's something that we should all be supporting. But if you want to outright call Elton John a faggot, that's fine with me. Do it. Then I'll know that you're a hateful ass and that I shouldn't value any of your writing or opinions. But don't hide your discriminatory bullshit behind barely concealed innuendo.

Click through to page two for more.


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Chaifetz Arena

1 S. Compton Ave., St. Louis, MO

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18 comments
erikmartin
erikmartin

So you admit that he is quintessentially flamboyant, but you say that we should never say out loud that he is flamboyant, because he is gay?  And you say that you are "not down for too much political correctness".... this article... i can't even...

kimmyhem
kimmyhem

Sorry in advance. I'm learning this format and hope this comes through alright.

First, I cannot be as beautifully concise as the one who simply said, "Oh please." Though I do agree with that response to this article. However, I feel the need to say more so this sentiment does not creep into the ether unfairly.

Like the Allman Brothers Band, Bruce Springsteen and only a handful of other acts, Elton John is among a rarefied, group of entertainers known to have set, and still be setting, the gold standard for musicianship across decades of hard driving, very lengthy, live rock shows. While that in itself is only somewhat flamboyant, what pushes Elton into the realm of truly flamboyant, is that he does this while wearing groundbreaking, outlandish costuming. Plus, though he is clean now, he has a history of drug abuse and outlandish behavior. If anyone doesn't think that's flamboyant, they should get a new dictionary or try going to the office like that every day for three decades. Describing Sir Elton John as flamboyant is not dismissive or incorrect. It is a tribute to his creativity, talent, heart and humanity.

I'll close with an anecdote. One time I saw Sir Elton on the main stage at Fair St. Louis on July 4. His set started at 4 p.m., the hottest part of the day. The temp was upward of 94 degrees in the shade. Everyone on the grounds was wearing flimsy little short shorts and barely-there t-tops; the guys didn't have tops on at all. It was VERY hot and humid. Out comes Elton to the main stage on time, wearing a full length, buttoned-up matador's outfit with wool hat. He sits down at the at the west-facing piano and proceeds to put on the show of his life without stopping until past dark. Then the fireworks ignited over the river. No sweat for him. I've been to many kinds of shows for a very long time. All around it was one flaming flambe . . . I mean flamboyant affair.

k

Joshua Rodgers
Joshua Rodgers

Flamboyant is creative! He didn't make his living boating about being gay ... he's an artist, most of them are FLAMBOYANT! And not gay. learn to use the language you speak you untalented haters

Shannon Marfell Doza
Shannon Marfell Doza

Don't let the uneducated flatten the meaning of the word. It does not have anything to do with sexuality. You're a writer. Take it back!

Michael Mahler
Michael Mahler

I think he stopped being "flamboyant" about 20 years ago.

Alex Rathgeb
Alex Rathgeb

I completely agree with the author...plus, Elton's not "flamboyant"...Flamboyant is "Elton."

Allen Ward
Allen Ward

Elton John use to be Flamboyant / fierce / fabulous.........now he's just old. Those words worked great to describe him in the 70's and 80's...but they don't work now. Words like Wig Hag and Sunglass Junkie would work today.

Tom Kennedy
Tom Kennedy

I'll stop calling him flamboyant, when he stops being flamboyant. Signed - Tired of the Thought/Word Police

Person
Person

@Tom Kennedy 

Precisely -- because an article that you willingly read and commented on is downright Orwellian.

Wait, what.

abcd
abcd

@Person The author is entitled to his opinion, and Tom Kennedy is entitled to his. 


The article itself isn't "Orwellian," but I agree with Tom, there seems to be a strange desire to curtail what words can and can't be used by the masses, and it's not right.  It is...Orwellian.


A rose by any other name is still a rose.  Elton John is still flamboyant.

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