Former ’60s teen idol Lesley Gore, who is best known for her classic songs “It’s My Party (I’ll Cry if I Want To)” and “You Don’t Own Me,” talks to us about her career, her new album, and why she hasn’t officially come out as a lesbian (until now).
AfterEllen.com: So, you’re about to tour with your new album, beginning in New York—is that right?
AE: Do you live alone—besides with your dog [which appears in a photo with her on the In the Life website]?
And I thought, you know, a little gender confusion makes a better person. A little adversity in life at an early age. It’s character building.
AE: Our readers are interested in representations of lesbians and bisexual women in the media, and I imagine a lot of them will be surprised to be able to claim you amongst ourselves. I was wondering, have you ever come out on the record?
For a couple of years now I’ve been hosting [the PBS series] In the Life, and that was just kind of my way of saying, here I am and this is what I feel I should be doing now, and it was sort of a natural evolution for me as opposed to, you know, this great gong in the head.
AE: I knew you had hosted an In the Life episode earlier this year. I didn’t realize you’ve been doing it for two years.
You know, the interesting thing about having traveled around the country as much as I have, and I think it’s sort of inadvertently what made me come out or at least begin doing things within the community and thinking more about that, was that I get to travel quite a bit.
I meet a lot of young people in the Midwest, and I saw what a difference a show like In the Life can make to their lives in some of these small towns where, you know, there are probably two gay people in the whole damn town. It’s made a real inroads for them. They come and they talk to me about this stuff, so I know how important it is.
AE: Would you say that people knew you were gay back when you were first performing? You were pretty young, about 17, right?
AE: Once you did know, did you have to go to lengths to conceal it in the music industry?
AE: And how would you say that times were different?
It’s always been a patriarchal situation, and it always puts women, not necessarily down, but certainly on a lower rung.