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November 4: Gay, Gay, Is There Another Way?

November 4, 2013
Frances+FayeCabaret singer Frances Faye, who peppered her performances with innuendo about bisexuality and lesbianism way before the gay liberation movement opened the stage door closet, was born in Brooklyn on this date in 1912. She became a nightclub singer at 15, appeared in a Bing Crosby film, wrote a hit song for the Andrew Sisters, and, in 1936, recorded the first of her fourteen albums. According to Tyler Alpern in the GLBTQ Encyclopedia, Faye “was at her best performing live,” which was captured on her Caught in the Act album in 1958. It “was amazing in Eisenhower-era America for its frank embrace of gay people. Faye can be heard joking that she refused to sing ‘Way Down Yonder in New Orleans’ because the ‘gay kids’ do not like the lyric ‘. . . with those beautiful queens.’ Her comic song ‘Frances and Her Friends’ boldly glorified same-sex coupling,” and “Faye musically proclaimed, ‘Frances Faye, gay, gay, is there another way?’ ” To see her scatting with Martha Raye and Bing Crosby, look below. “In addition to her recording career, Faye was a bright star on New York’s 52nd Street during its heyday in the 1930s and 1940s and a fixture in major nightclubs around the world for forty-five years.” —Tyler Alpern