Gay Messiah

Songfacts®:

  • Rufus Wainwright wrote this song as a clever comment on sexuality and religion. It envisions the savior as a gay man wearing tube socks and hanging out at Studio 54. He'll also be visiting Fire Island, which the Village People recorded a song about.

    Wainwright was always upfront about his homosexuality, breaking the news to his parents when he was 14 (they weren't surprised). Religion and the gay experience are common themes in his songwriting, and in "Gay Messiah," he brings them together.
  • Wainwright wrote the song as a joke and played it for laughs at concerts. This was in the tradition of his father, Loudon Wainwright III, who amused audiences with songs like "Dead Skunk" and "White Winos." The song took a more serious turn after the 2004 presidential election when gay marriage opponent George W. Bush was re-elected. "It was a dark period, and the song became more of a political rallying call about gay rights," he told Rolling Stone. "It became a literal prayer for the Gay Messiah - very serious, nothing funny about it. Like, we really do need a savior to fall down from the clouds and deal with this."
  • This song is a tribute of sorts to gay pornography during its '70s golden age. "There was just much better lighting, and there was this feeling of a sexual Utopia that definitely existed – and that we're all paying the price for now," Wainwright told Barney Hoskyns. "There's no doubt that you see in the porn of that era - gay and straight - an innocence that vanished after AIDS."
  • There is a lot of legacy in the backup vocals. Rufus' sister, Martha Wainwright, sings on the track as does Jenni Muldaur (daughter of Maria Muldaur) and Teddy Thompson (son of Richard and Linda Thompson). Rufus and Martha were born to the singer-songwriters Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle. Suzzy Roche, who birthed another singing Wainwright (Lucy) with Loudon, also appears.
  • This was part of the tracklist to Want Two, Wainwright's fourth album and the follow-up to Want One, released a year earlier. Want One is the more personal of the two; on Want Two many of the songs look at society as a whole and other outside influences.

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