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Boy George Revisits Culture Club's Best New Artist GRAMMY Speech In 1984
Known for his colorful fashion sense and his use of makeup, Boy George was a queer icon in the pop world back when there were not many other openly gay artists in the mainstream. Now, the words he said during his GRAMMY acceptance speech when Culture Club won Best New Artist at the 26th GRAMMY Awards in 1984 may not seem very shocking, but at the time caused a stir.
George and Culture Club are back after a 19 year hiatus from making new music, returning with their message of love and openness for the world with their latest album, Life, released Oct. 26. In a recent interview with Variety, George recalls the moment he realized their messages were shocking to some.
"Thank you America, you know a good drag queen when you see one," George said at the GRAMMYs (via satellite from England). While today that may not sound outlandish, in 1984, as highlighted by a New York Times article at the time, some Americans didn't know what to do with George and his gender-nonconformity.
"I didn't really consider what it meant for anyone else, as I was in England…But people [in the U.S.] were freaking out when I said that," George told Variety. "Look, sometimes the world just isn't ready — for a word, for a shift of the moral compass. I'm glad I said it now. I just wish I had said it with a bit more intention at the time."
He thought it was "a pretty innocuous comment," being that he was in England and drag queens were already a regular part of culture, and he really didn't think that anyone would be surprised by his word choice. Now he realizes the power that even seemingly simple words can have on society.
Present day, 34 years after he turned heads for thanking Americans for loving his drag queen-self, as LQBTQ+ rights are being challenged in the country, it is important that he keeps showing the U.S.—and the world—how to keep opening their arms to accept everyone that makes this country great.
"It's almost more challenging now, because you had better find something to say that is relevant to you and the world," George said.