Gay Icon Nominee: Alanis Morissette

Nominating gay icons is downright therapeutic. Not only is it fun to discuss people who rule (like Ms. Julie Bowen!), but it’s simply about time we expanded the narrow phalanx of gay icons to include 1) stars who’ve emerged within the past 20 years, 2) more unconventional choices, and 3) entertainers who follow in the tradition of great gay icons’ defiance, independence, and charisma.

That brings us to today’s nominee, the graceful and doggedly articulate Alanis Morissette. No doubt about it, a big part of the Grammy-winning songstress’s fan base is gay men, much like her heroes Carole King, Tori Amos, Sinead O’Connor, and Liz Phair. But she’s still not quite heralded as a gay draw, and with her new album Havoc and Bright Lights emerging this month (as well as rumors that she may join American Idol), the time is right to shout out her winning qualities and everything that makes her a rightful target of gay connoisseurship.

1. Everyone, gays included, has an Alanis song that resonates most.

Now, I’m sure we all have multiple copies of Jagged Little Pill and Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie tucked into our forgotten CD visors, but I’d reckon that most of Alanis’ most touching and perceptive songs still resonate with even her most casual fans. “You Learn” and “Ironic” are perfect examinations of the triumph in surviving tough circumstances (or not surviving, in the case of the plane crash guy from “Ironic”). “Head Over Feet” is a scroll of perfect romantic imagery and blistering vulnerability. “So Pure” is a blast of a dance floor freedom. “Precious Illusions” (off the underrated Under Rug Swept) is my personal favorite, a tune about forsaking self-inflicted delusions, romantic or otherwise, and growing up. “Eight Easy Steps” is a straightforward, funny, and damning song about coping mechanisms. And I love that Dogma soundtrack tune, “Still,” which is the best of her Far Eastern-tinged stuff. But I’m sure you all have different favorites! Because she is that good a songwriter! For the best exhibition of her writing talents, give her Unplugged disc another listen.

(Her best video, by the way? “Hand In My Pocket,” hands down. Mark Kohr‘s parade imagery is breathtaking. Stephane Sednaoui‘s “Ironic” is a close second.)

2. She’s certified to officiate at gay weddings.

In 2004, Morissette was one of the first celebrities (that I can think of, anyway) to become an ordained minister in the Universal Life Church with the intention of “marrying some of my gay friends,” as she said at the time. Hey, everyone: I want Alanis Morissette to preside over my nuptials! My husband and I will recite the lyrics to “Thank U” and stand naked while our grown-out hair covers our chests. Perhaps we’ll conduct this at a grocery store!

3. She’s serious about her message, but she’s just as serious about not taking herself seriously.

Alanis is sometimes criticized for lyrics that are either too earnest or New Age-y, but it’s always been clear that she’s game to make fun of herself. Her appearance in Dogma as God was cheeky enough, but better yet, this video of Alanis parodying the Black Eyed Peas’ “My Humps” in one of YouTube’s first viral phenonema is exceptional. Her line reading of “Get you love drunk off my humps”? Legendary.


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