The coronavirus pandemic has changed everything, and that includes how we’re all celebrating Pride in 2020.
With huge public gatherings out of the question, we’re asking a range of LGBTQ celebrities and allies for their personal Pride anthems, to help us all get into the Pride spirit from lockdown.
Up next to take us on a Pride-inspired trip down memory lane is TV presenter and journalist Anna Richardson.
The Naked Attraction presenter admits she had “a billion” songs she could have picked for her My Pride Anthems playlist, but eventually narrowed it down to just five by artists as wide-ranging as Anohni, Chaka Khan and George Michael.
Here are the tracks she chose...
George Michael – Fastlove
“Maybe I ought to start with my first Pride, in 1996. I can’t remember who played that year, but I do remember that George Michael was massive that summer, when Fastlove came out.
“I remember the song, and the video in particular... his video being about wanting sexual freedom and just to have fun. It’s just immediately addictive, a totally frisky song, and it’s just about celebrating sex without the commitment. Celebrating freedom.
“And this is why I think it’s a Pride Anthem, one of the lyrics is ‘my friends got their ladies, they’re all having babies, I just wanna have some fun’. And I remember in 1996, listening to that song with a big group of women, all of our friends were having babies, and actually we just wanted to have some fun. I just think George Michael is the perfect gay icon, and Fastlove is a brilliant Pride anthem.
“And do you know what, I only live down the road from where his house is in Highgate, as well, and I always walk past and say a little prayer to him, because he was such a sort of visible figure about Hampstead and Highgate, and he was such a kind man. He’s quite important to me, George Michael, and that song in particular represents my first Pride.”
Erasure – A Little Respect
“The reason I wanted to include this was because first of all, I’ve always loved Erasure, and I’ve seen them a million times. But actually, back in 2014 when same-sex marriage became legal, Channel 4 did this amazing one-off documentary, that was called Our Gay Wedding: The Musical. The grooms were Benjamin Till and Nathan Taylor and they wrote and staged their entire wedding as a musical... and I had a front-row seat to the wedding, and the musical.
“And Andy Bell came on – as part of the musical – and with no accompaniment at all, sang A Little Respect, while the whole history of the gay rights struggle played on the backdrop behind them all, leading all the way to that day in 2014 when same-sex marriage was made legal.
“And every time I hear that song, I just think of the struggle, and the celebration of that day, of two men being able to publicly declare their love and get married and having it put on as a musical, it was amazing to be there.
“For me to be able to bear witness not only to their wedding but a massive step forward in gay rights, it was a really important day and I’ll always remember that. It was quite a landmark moment for me.”
Anohni – You Are My Sister
“This is an anthem, but it’s quite sombre and quite melancholic. What I love about Anohni, is the absolute uniqueness of her voice, and the fact she has always identified as transgender, and what is interesting about her is that she’s feminine and delicate, even though she’s over six foot tall, but she also nods at who she used to be.
“For me, You Are My Sister is an anthem for all women. ‘You are my sister, may all your dreams come true’, and every time I hear that song, it makes me weep. What’s interesting is that I presume – I don’t know enough about her biography, actually – but I presume it is about her real sister, but what I love is that it can be interpreted as ‘sister’ as in ‘fellow women’.
“And when you listen to it, just the beauty of it, and the beauty of her voice – and also the beauty of Boy George’s voice, because they really complement each other – there’s such a vulnerability to this song, and I just think it beautifully encapsulates what it’s like to love another woman, whether it’s your sister, or your sister metaphorically. You must listen to it, it’s a stunning song.”
Kate Bush – The Man With The Child In His Eyes
“I was totally desperate to include a Kate Bush song, because Kate Bush is a massive icon for me. When she came back to the Hammersmith Apollo, where she hadn’t played for 30 years, to play a series of gigs, I’m so obsessed with her that, as soon as the tickets went on sale, I was there with my laptop, my iPad, my phone, with everything, to try and secure tickets, and I managed to get two for me and Sue [Perkins, Anna’s partner] to see her, and it was the most mindblowing gig I have ever seen. And we were invited to meet her afterwards, and she’s the one famous person that I was left utterly speechless by when I met her.
“Kate Bush is so important for me, and also for the community, just in terms of… she’s also been very pro the community and pro playing around with identity and gender, and I just think she’s an extraordinary artist.
“Now when you say ‘what’s my favourite song?’, fuck me... there’s so many. There are a billion songs I could give you that are really, really meaningful, but I just thought, if we’re talking about Pride, let’s go for The Man With The Child In His Eyes. Because if you think about it, she wrote these lyrics when she was really young, but it’s all about ‘I hear him, just before I go to sleep’, and he comes to her room, but it’s about connecting with this guy, her lover, and he’s a little boy at heart. And I just think that speaks to so many gay men.
“It’s about the intimacy and joy of sex with another human being, that’s what she’s singing about, and the love of connecting with this man. But in his heart, there’s the child inside, that she’s holding. I just think that works really well [for Pride], that at the heart of every big gay man, there’s a little boy that wants to be adored. It’s about vulnerability and connecting on a really deep level, on a soul level.”
Chakha Khan – I’m Every Woman
“First of all, this is one of the best disco songs out there, but also, I’ve done so much work around sex and sex education and identity, and having done so much with Naked Attraction as well, and working with straight women, gay women, transgender women, it’s just about connection.
“I just love that lyric ‘I’m every woman’, it’s about sisterhood and identity. And connection, I think. I mean, I haven’t sat and thought super deeply about that, but I just think it’s to do with connecting.
“In a way, it’s a bit like with Anonhi, it’s all about the feminine, it’s about connecting to the feminine. It sounds like I’m rambling, but what I’m trying to say is that it doesn’t matter how you identify, you don’t have to be cisgender female, just that lyric ‘I’m every woman’, it speaks to everybody. It’s about vulnerability and connecting, and particularly within our community.”
In addition to her TV work, Anna Richardson runs Mindbox, an online subscription based service offering techniques to help cope and overcome common feelings of stress and anxiety.
We’ll be adding each celebrity’s song choices to our bumper My Pride Anthems playlist each day. Take a listen below: