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Queer as Pop: from Gay Scene to Mainstream

Fri Dec 27, 10.55-11.55pm, C4

From Little Richard to Frank Ocean in an hour? Little wonder this breathless documentary posits a few sweeping generalisations and rushes past potentially fascinating sidestreets in the labyrinthine history of gay culture.

But, unlike C4’s recent folk and rock documentaries, ‘Queer as Pop’ does at least make a genuine attempt to analyse a movement through its music. Most of the boxes are ticked – Bowie doing ‘Starman’, disco, the Stonewall riots, the utterly different but equally significant ‘Relax’ and ‘Smalltown Boy’ – and there’s a welcome diversion into house, as well as a pause for breath and contemplation when the story reaches the outbreak of Aids. Top-notch contributors too, with Frankie Knuckles and Nile Rodgers joined by such behind-the-scenes movers and shakers as Heaven founder Jeremy Norman, each one shooting from the hip.

Most telling is how little has changed in the ever-cynical industry: gay icons have come prepackaged for decades – only the nods and winks have become more blatant. As plenty take issue with Lady Gaga’s self-proclaimed position as head of a movement, it’s clear that the war between credibility and commerce continues apace.