The narratives of Bruce Springsteen’s songs resonate with many queer people, who are well aware of the possibility of a life-altering freedom that presents itself as the reward for stepping into your true self (even when that freedom comes, as is often the case, at great cost).
Springsteen is far from gay; some might argue he is one of the straightest men alive. Nonetheless, some fans regard his work as, in Rosalie Zdzienicka Fanshel’s words, “homoerotic or queerly suggestive”.
There’s also Carmen Rios’s “We’re here and we’re queering Bruce Springsteen” at one of the longest-running sites for queer women, Autostraddle; the queer writer Tennessee Jones’s short story collection Deliver me from nowhere, based on the album Nebraska; and the many queer Bruce Springsteen zines, from Because the Boss belongs to us to Butt Springsteen.
What exactly is so queer about Springsteen? Is it his extreme butchness, so practiced and so precise that he might as well have learned it from the oldest lesbian at a gay bar? Is it because his hard-earned, roughly hewn version of love is recognizable to those for whom desire has often meant sacrifice? Or is it something simpler? Do many queers love Springsteen because nearly every song he has produced in his 50-year career reflects a crushing, unabiding sense of alienation and longing—and what could be more queer than that?
This according to “Things that can only be found in the darkness on the edge of town: The queerness of Bruce Springsteen” by Naomi Gordon-Loebl (The nation 6 November 2019).
Below, Springsteen’s Tougher than the rest, a song (and video) discussed in the article.
Launched in 2014, BOSS: The biannual online-journal of Springsteen studies publishes scholarly peer-reviewed essays pertaining to Bruce Springsteen.
This open-access journal seeks to encourage consideration of Springsteen’s body of work primarily through the political, economic, and sociocultural factors that have influenced his music and shaped its reception.
BOSS welcomes broad interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary approaches to Springsteen’s songwriting and performance. The journal aims to secure a place for Springsteen Studies in the contemporary academy.
Below, Born in the USA, the subject of the first article in the first issue.
Founded in 2014, blindedbythelight.com is an online museum displaying more than 300 pieces of Bruce Springsteen memorabilia. Admission is $9.99, which allows a month of access to the site, the ability to download a font that replicates Mr. Springsteen’s handwriting style, the use of a ticket and memorabilia exchange, and entry to a monthly raffle. Mr. Springsteen has no formal involvement with the site.
Above, the museum’s reproduction of The Boss’s 8th-grade report card (click to enlarge; note that F stands for Fair). Below, Springsteen performs Blinded by the light.
Related article: A Springsteen resource
Library of hope and dreams: A comprehensive annotated bibliography of scholarship about Bruce Springsteen is a free online annotated bibliography of scholarship published in English about The Boss.
A continuously updated resource, as of 7 June 2012 the bibliography had 250 entries including books, book chapters, journal articles, conference papers, and web publications. All items are described in full bibliographic detail, abstracted, and indexed by subject keywords and by song and album when appropriate.
Library of Hope and Dreams was created by Denise D. Green at Staley Library, Milikin University.
BONUS: Read about this resource in Hungarian here.