Love Me Like You Should

Disco icon Sylvester may best be known for the international hit singles ‘You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)’, ‘Dance (Disco Heat)’, ‘Do You Wanna Funk’ and ‘Menergy’, but the recording artist’s groundbreaking career also furthered queer visibility in popular culture. Leaving a legacy that continues to influence today’s pop music.

Through the compelling new documentary ‘Love Me Like You Should: The Brave and Bold Sylvester’, produced for Pride 2020 by Amazon Music in collaboration with filmmaker Lauren Tabak and writer/consulting producer Barry Walters. The short documentary details the life and times of Sylvester James Jr., known mononymously as Sylvester.

When I saw Sylvester, my life was altered, my life was changed for the better. As a Black queer gay man, any glimmer of seeing oneself reflected back at them, through our culture, changes lives.

Billy Porter

The legacy of a musician who set new precedent for genderqueer, gay and black entertainers has been revisited the new mini-documentary. Sylvester’s story comes to life once more and the true extent of his impact – inside and out of the music industry – is explored.

It is a compilation of archival footage, as well as rare performance clips, charting Sylvester’s rise from Los Angeles choir boy to glam 1970s hit-maker. Starting with his birth in South Central Los Angeles, it charts the course of his move to San Fransisco’s Castro District and later breakthrough as a singer/songwriter.

He crossed over, he was a genderfluid Black man in mainstream music. That hasn’t happened since. There’s been a lot of us who have tried – and I’ve been trying for 30 years – nobody did it like Sylvester.

Billy Porter

While the significant influence of black culture on mainstream music extends back at least a century, James was among the first non-binary artists to achieve superstardom. As pointed out in the documentary, he championed gender fluidity years before it would be called that through his unapologetic style and demeanor.

The filmmakers also incorporate interviews with Sylvester’s sister Bernadette Baldwin, singer, actor and activist Billy Porter as well as collaborators like musician Peter Mintun, producer/songwriter James ‘Tip’ Wirrick, former background singer Martha Wash (Two Tons of Fun/Weather Girls), and Sylvester biographer Josh Gamson.

Sylvester was always ahead of us. He did things like talk about being married to a man before gay marriage was a thought. He responded to Joan Rivers saying that he was this drag queen by saying, ‘But I’m not a drag queen, I’m Sylvester.’ He wasn’t saying there’s something wrong with being a drag queen, he was saying that’s not how gender works. It was gender fluidity and nonbinary gender before we were really there.

Josh Gamson

In addition to interviews, and with his version of ‘God Bless The Child’ on the bacjground, – its is musical treasure! The kind of music he loved more then disco! – the 15-minute doc shows rare archival footage of Sylvester, including performances at The Stud, the historic San Francisco gay bar that recently shuttered. It also depicts how a 1979 show at the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House was a healing, joyous moment for the city in the wake of the assassination of gay politician Harvey Milk.

Sylvester died at the age of 41 on December 16th, 1988 after a long battle of an AIDS-related illness. He had attended the San Francisco Pride parade in a wheelchair shortly before passing on to show solidarity even in his final years. His legacy, however, continues to live on…..

Watch the 15-minute documentary:

Amazon has also curated a playlist called Pride History on which ‘You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)’ is an entry.

Want to read the whole story of Sylvester? Use the ‘Sylvester’ tag….

West Hollywood Becomes First City in the Nation to Recognize Harvey Milk Day as an Official Holiday

Harvey Milk, march 7, 1978. Photo: Daniel Nicoletta

The City of West Hollywood has passed a Resolution to add Harvey Milk Day to its calendar of official holidays during which parking regulations for meters and associated meter time limits will not be enforced. The Resolution was passed on Monday, April 20, 2015 at a regular meeting of the West Hollywood City Council. Harvey Milk Day is celebrated annually on May 22 on the anniversary of Harvey Milk’s birthday. West Hollywood is the first city in the nation to observe Harvey Milk Day as a holiday.

The City of West Hollywood has a long history of celebrating Harvey Milk’s legacy. I was honored to host our inaugural celebration of Harvey Milk Day after it was signed into law in 2009. Observing Harvey Milk Day as an official municipal holiday is one more way West Hollywood remains committed to remembering and honoring those who have struggled to advance rights and protections for all LGBT people.

Lindsey P. Horvath, Mayor, West Hollywood

Annually, in recognition of Harvey Milk Day on May 22, the City of West Hollywood will not enforce parking regulations for meters and associated meter time limits. The enforcement of meters and associated meter time limit regulations will resume the day after Harvey Milk Day, on May 23.

To many LGBT people, West Hollywood is a beacon of hope, not unlike Harvey Milk’s San Francisco. As the first City in the nation to officially observe Harvey Milk Day, West Hollywood is continuing its record as a leader in advancing freedom and fairness for all. LGBT youth from Northridge to Nuevo can come to West Hollywood without fear – and on May 22nd, they can come to our city and enjoy what we have to offer without fear of getting an expensive parking ticket.

Lauren Meister, Mayor Pro Tempore

Harvey Milk Day is recognized in California as a day of special significance. The commemorative day was established in 2009 by the California state legislature and it was signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Harvey Milk became the first openly gay elected leader in California when he won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. In November 1978, Milk was assassinated by Supervisor Dan White after only 11 months in office. Milk’s legacy in the LGBT community is enormous. In 2009, President Barack Obama posthumously awarded Harvey Milk with a Presidential Medal of Freedom for his contribution to the LGBT movement.

For more information about Harvey Milk, please visit the Harvey Milk Foundation website at milkfoundation.org.