“There’s Something About You, Baby:” Dirty Mind​ and Sowing the Seeds of Queer

Sex and sexuality were key elements of the Prince persona and catalog from the release of his debut album and first single, “Soft and Wet.” While his early releases were essentially heteronormative and barely transgressive, particularly at the tail end of the sexually liberated disco era, in 1980’s “Dirty Mind,” we see the beginnings of a queer sensibility. Beyond what critic Ken Tucker termed a “liberating lewdness” in his ​Rolling Stone ​review, the album also included Prince’s first songs of outright social commentary: “Uptown” and “Partyup.” In the former, Prince is pegged as gay because of his clothes and hair, and in the latter, the 30-minute album closes out to the defiant chant “You’re gonna have to fight your own damn war / ‘Cause we don’t wanna fight no more!”

Within the framework the definitive Dirty Mind album, Prince launched himself into the pantheon of Queer icons, both through an unconventional sexuality and gender expression, but perhaps more importantly through the expression of what Latinx religion professor ethicist Rev. Dr. Miguel A. de la Torre terms “Ethics para Joder”—an ethics that screws with the system and structures that keep image bearers from abundant living.

Chris Aguilar García

Chris Aguilar García (he/they) is a Queer Chicanx writer and editor from Thornton, Colorado. Discovering Prince in 1982 via 1999, they were mesmerized by this male-presenting artist who so expertly defied conventional gender norms while incidentally producing, arranging, composing, and performing the baddest, sexiest, most funky work they had ever heard! Thus began a lifelong journey of following the music, art, and meaning of Prince.

They have presented work on the queerness of Prince at the Purple Reign and Prince from MPLS conferences, and at national and regional gatherings of the Popular Culture Association. 

A graduate of Antioch University Los Angeles, they hold an extensive career in community minded organizations, currently as Director of Operations at Queer Asterisk Therapeutic Services.