Donna Summer

It’s devastating I know, and I can say nothing to help, yet, I am always going to try. Even though nothing can be done, I will always try to do something. That is the kind I am.

I never met Donna Summer, but my good friend Prince Poppycock sang with her, and I was always jealous of him for that. Her voice was the sound of the 70s, her high pitch perfect disco soprano kept the dance floor filled with stomping feet, shirtless men and some shirted men among them, bodies close enough to be touching and some actually touching, tightly packed yet boundlessly free, together, maybe feeling good for the first time. This was the sum and solace of Donna Summer, and her name was fitting, as she brought on the summer of our lives, many of us, more than she will ever know, more than we will even ourselves understand.

Donna Summer’s name conjoured hot sweaty midnights, disco balls, being gay and being proud, feather boas and poppers, cocaine and freedom, neon signs and leather vests, that kind of bad girl that every gay man wants to be – not bad really – more like the kind of bad that Olivia Newton John gets into at the end of Grease. Still, Donna Summer wore those tight Frederick’s of Hollywood thick spandex pants first, like jeans but with a long zipper, stringy camisole thing on top, and in this uniform of the true disco diva, I imagine her working over the mikes at Casablanca like no one else before her or since.

We took the loss of Whitney Houston hard, and I for one have not yet recovered. It seemed like we had lost enough so far. Etta james and Whitney Houston – enough is enough – I had thought – and also ironically, it’s one of my favorite Donna Summer songs. Enough is enough – I only think of it as a Donna Summer song – is that terrible? Of course her duet partner is the formidable Barbra Streisand, but unfortunately for Babs, Donna steals the show, even though I can tell the mix of the song is tipped heavily in Barbra’s favor. No matter. Donna’s voice shines decibels above even the greatest and most revered of all singers.

Donna Summer got played a lot at funerals in the 80s, Last Dance becoming a sort of requiem march. The untimely deaths of gay men from AIDS – when I hear that song, that is what I remember. I still love the song though, tragedy and bliss go hand in hand sometimes. I look back at my long life and blink unbelieving at how many I have survived. All I have left are these memories of songs, love for these singers. That is all. As i get older, I have less and less, or maybe that means, I have more. But enough is enough.

Donna Summer R.I.P

19 thoughts on “Donna Summer

  1. Margaret, this made me cry. This is a beautiful tribute. I, too, remember hearing “Last Dance” at many of my friends funerals throughout the years. I am just so sad over her passing. Thank you for your thoughts on her.

  2. She will always be symbol of the 70s, disco and gay history. Although she was against gay people in many interviews, she’ll be missed.

  3. Thank you for putting the feelings of so many of us into words. Incredible sadness, but I have a hunch she’d want us to celebrate. xxxooo

  4. Grrr….This page prompts me to type words but then does not upload my comment.
    Anyway..Thanks Ms Cho, i think you said what many of us feel..
    Donna Summer has been/ will be the reference for me for the longest time…

    RIP Donna

  5. tightly packed yet boundlessly free, together, maybe feeling good for the first time////yes, and it’s a shame that many gay men of this era have been shamelessly stupid, silent, and in denial about many horrible anti-queer and neutered programs. yes, enough is enough. thank you for being a loud, queer, asian american that understands many aspects of the intercultural sideways that are not blinded by such stupid christian inertia as a HORRIBLE production has been. being in japan and meeting other asians has been interesting, yet, this production/project of profound stupidity — i will NEVER embrace it. in seeing the years of intercultural ignorance that has come from sex/human trafficking and homophobia posing as tolerance and family fun — how could these people have been so pathetically dumb and blinded by their own varied forms of racism in many places around the world. dancing with gay men used to be fun….and then i had to work with hollywood and new york assholes posing as tolerant beings to promote the next kotex for their intergender period bleeding as they blessed themselves with holy water from christ’s dripping crucifix. thank you margaret for being so lovely in those things that i love about the states even though i had to work with the most pathetically anti-gay radio cunts, film morons, and a increasingly stupid documentary of banal poseurs who need another person’s work to maintain their own flaccid erection. dear God, these people have been so stupid — so stupid….provincial cliche dumb, parochial pew puking retarded. thanks margaret and thank you to disco revelry beyond the closet of hollywood crap. have a lovely weekend.

  6. While I was saddened by Donna’s death, it doesn’t strike me as being as much of a tragedy as Whitney’s death, because Donna Summer lived a long and full life, which wasn’t cut short far too soon. Of course, anytime is a bad time to die. Donna Summer was such a tough woman, you could hear it in her voice. She had such strength, she and Tina Turner were symbols to me of what women could be. Powerful, like Goddesses. For me anyway, Donna Summer will always be the Queen of Dance Music.

  7. i have seen so much happen to GLBT people since the donna summer wave of pleasure and frankie’s pleasuredome that is far removed from the darkness of frank’s pedophile home in london — i digress — i am left wondering why there has been such silence if not due to hollywood delusional hypnosis where “it gets better” becomes a feel good effort when observing the irresponsible inability to be accountable for embracing producers, directors, studios, programs, and projects that hate you. as i walked across the country or hitched from coast to coast, i wondered why people were so silent to the scenario of being reduced to horror film distractions. now, the voluptuous horror of karen black would be as ingratiatingly humor as vaginal davis but they didn’t visit my hooker bar strange enough as the pole or plank on which i was twirling was not a pole up my ass. too many stiff overdose cases have not been serving up the right food and it’s been horrible watching people eat that crap. thanks again for the fruit flies and how tweeting has ruined many relations. take care.

  8. After reading this I remembered you also wrote a beautiful blogpost about the death of Paul Hester and how you learned about his passing years later. Maybe you already knew, but Peter Jones, the other Crowded House drummer, died a few weeks ago.

  9. Dear Margaret, I enjoy so much your work on Drop Dead Diva, and is such surprising and great the we both have so many things in common. One is Miss Donna Summer, to me, the best american singer. I really enjoy so much the things that you feel about her voice and hers songs, I really appreciate so much your comments about our Dear Donna.

    Bless You,


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