The music producer, songwriter, musician, singer and artist Prince Rogers Nelson died last Thursday at his home, Paisley Park in Minnesota. How can one attempt to encapsulate his legacy in just a few words? – It may be impossible.
An artist so sexy while embracing the power of androgyny, strutting the stage in high heels and vamped in eye makeup. Prince eroded the stable categories of masculine and feminine, playing with both identities and showing how interchangeable they were. Whether it was his performance of machismo in Purple Rain or his deliberately feminine pantsuit on the cover of Esquire, Prince spent his career celebrating gender fluidity and defying categories of straight and gay.
Dancing with white men, writhing with black women, coupling with either, becoming one with all races and sexes yet neither in one, commanding frame. Along the way, sell more than 100 million records worldwide. Brutal as a rapper, tender as a balladeer, swooping smoothly from bass to falsetto. An almost supernatural being while playing the guitar, soaring off into a universe of riffs and improvisations and that’s just one of all the instruments he plays across his more than 40 studio albums. He was the most funkiest person in the music industry and he never stopped creating his passion, music-art.
It’s reported that Prince died from HIV/AIDS complications yet he never spoke about the disease in public nor ‘come out’ as HIV positive. Staying private about HIV status is a matter of personal choice. Maybe Prince lived in fear of stigma and discrimination, it’s a powerful emotion. Like most of us, we are who we are and wish not to be defined by illness. If Prince was openly HIV positive, perhaps more people could have been open about it themselves. As a matter of personal choice, Prince decided to keep his diagnoses private. After all, we love Prince for who he was, not for what he had.
The same is true of you and me. We are not an illness, we are not statistics, we want not the stigma which unfortunately comes with a HIV diagnosis. We are individuals living life.
So when the media descends into tabloid chaos and disorder with reports of ill health, drug taking, and not adhering to medicine, try to remember that it was Prince’s choice to be an artist, not a celebrity known for HIV.
Prince – Rest In Power, God of music!
1958 – 2016
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