A Few Thoughts on Prince, Magic, & Giving a Shit
A tiny, epileptic Black man from Minnesota changed the world.
His name was Prince. And he was funky.
As a young woman who grew up in a small farming town, traditional gender roles were VERY assigned, though even as a child I could see how they could (and should) be bent, dismantled, and destroyed.
My Dad is a farmer. My Mom is a nurse who stayed at home, cooking, cleaning, and kid-wrangling, while my Dad worked the fields. The intricacies of their relationship are much deeper than that, but of course as children we don’t often fully understand what lies beneath, just the surface roles we witness.
While I recognized that my parents never truly fulfilled the archetypes, this kind of traditional home could have wreaked desperate havoc on what I grew to believe being a “woman” and being a “man” meant.
I am grateful that as a child, I was introduced (by my Dad) to the likes of Prince, David Bowie, Marc Bolan, and Freddie Mercury, all of whom became symbols for me about what masculinity could mean.
As a small child, I was fascinated by their flare. I remember staring for HOURS at the photos of Freddie Mercury dressed up as a housewife. He looked more like a typical housewife in that session than my Mom ever did.
As a teenager, I was intrigued by their various brands of sexuality. Prince and Bolan were so sexy! Were they straight? Gay? What was their gender identity? Who cared! They oozed something so raw and visceral that it didn’t really matter. Glitter attracts sparkle, regardless of gibbly bits between legs.
And as young woman who could “choose a mate,” I thankfully recognized that there was more to masculinity than “shooting deers, drinking beers, and bashing queers” – the archetype of the space I grew up, perpetuated by the majority of young men I grew up with.
Fucking with the patriarchy is folding your penis into a sequin-studded leotard and destroying stadiums filled with rocker dudes who listen to your music while they’re warming up for their hockey game or driving in their pickup truck full of hay bales. It’s also giving an outlet to generations of young people (and the young at heart) who seek to claim space within their individuality and the world around them with a new set of lenses through which to view it all.
Yet none of these individuals ever seemed like they could possibly be human, be from Earth, because they gave so little fucks about conventions. But at the same time, so human. More human than human. They cared about the environment. They cared about equality. They cared about creating a more caring society.
They gave a shit and they didn’t give a fuck. Magical fucking shit givers.
We talk a lot about unicorns these days. But let me remind you:
Unicorns are mythical creatures that don’t exist.
Prince was a mythical creature who absolutely did.
Creativity is the joy of making new connections in a constrained environment. In a world where you had to live in a certain place, look a certain way, behave a certain way, Prince was born, lived, created, and died in Minnesota. He smashed gender stereotypes, he raised the profile of women musicians, he was loudly against animal cruelty, he spoke fiercely about Black Lives. He mastered within the constraints of his craft, and then went light years beyond.
All with a seemingly divine smirk.
I know we’re not all musicians in search of a new sound.
But we’re all humans in search of a new world.
One that is gentler and kinder. One that embraces who we are as individuals while it celebrates the kind of inclusive communities we can create together.
We’re all working inside constraints and struggle to find ways of moving beyond to create something of value, something unique, and yet something so deeply already within us that it seems at times otherworldly.
Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today 2 get through this thing called life.
And if the elevator tries to bring you down,
go crazy, punch a higher floor.
Fuck Unicorns. We had Prince.