Prince leaves legacy of self-love among fanbase


Senior Graphic Designer

Prince by Alexander Aghayere

By Managing Editor

What feels like the whole world has been in mourning since the iconic and innovative musician Prince died April 21 at the age of 57. Old photos and clips of the Purple One have flooded the internet, remembering Prince for his biggest hits like “Dirty Mind” or “Purple Rain” and iconic performances like his 2007 Super Bowl halftime show.

Fans of the legendary performer have reflected on their fondest memories of Prince and how his genre-bending music inspired them. I wish I could join in, but I missed my chance to see him perform live—and for the most foolish reason. I was afraid of the harassment I might get from my classmates for attending the show.

In 2004, my mom surprised my siblings and me with tickets to see Prince’s show at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont for his “Musicology Live 2004ever” tour. Not realizing the full magnitude of this opportunity to see a living legend perform live, I declined the offer and her boyfriend went instead.

I was 12 years old and feeling insecure as I struggled to come to terms with my sexual identity. From what I had seen of Prince, he was overtly feminine. The artist would fearlessly take the stage wearing makeup and flashy jewelry. His lyrics would challenge gender norms with lines flaunting his “pretty hair” or wondering, “If I was your girlfriend.” Prince was the antithesis of your stereotypical straight male, which made me nervous.

A few months before, my mom and her boyfriend took my siblings and me to see the rock band KISS live at the First Midwest Bank Amphitheater. It was my first concert ever, and I proudly wore the souvenir T-shirt I bought at the show to school the next day. To my dismay, my classmates relentlessly teased me, calling me gay because the shirt depicted the four band members in their signature tight leather pants, silver studs and face makeup. Having endured this homophobic bullying once before, I was not prepared to go through it again by seeing Prince.

In hindsight, that was a big mistake. I was struggling to understand my homosexuality, but Prince’s concert could have been liberating. Rather than being taught that my homosexual feelings or feminine qualities were something to be ashamed of, I would have learned from Prince that they should be celebrated and even shown off.

Prince made a legendary career as a straight man who dressed unapologetically flamboyant. As Frank Ocean pointed out in his April 21 tumblr post mourning the star’s death, Prince made his first televised appearance wearing bikini bottoms and knee-high heeled boots. He genuinely disregarded people’s opinions of him.

Prince’s outward appearance bent gender norms just as much as his music bent genres.

Prince’s flamboyant appearance and flashy performances were an expression of his freedom from societal norms. It was a level of confidence that I unfortunately did not learn to appreciate until after I had learned to embrace my sexuality. However, as seen in Frank Ocean’s blog post, it is safe to say that Prince was successful at inspiring many other people to take pride in their identity and disregard others’ opinions of them.

Prince was an amazing icon who greatly changed music, but he should be remembered for more than that. Prince was a hero who promoted self-love and fearlessness. His legacy will live on not only in the artists he influenced but also through the people he inspired to stay true to themselves.

I missed the performance but I didn’t miss the point.