Diana Ross celebrates LGBTQ community at birthday Radio City concert

Diana Ross celebrates LGBTQ community at birthday Radio City concert


When Diana Ross began her 75th birthday concert at Radio City Music Hall on Saturday night with “I’m Coming Out” — her 1980 hit that she released without knowing exactly why it would become a gay anthem — the legendary diva was fully aware of what this song, this moment, meant to the LGBTQ community.

With this weekend being the kickoff of the World Pride festivities that will culminate next weekend, Ross knew that she was headlining what for many in the audience would be the opening ceremonies for the gayest of Gay Prides.

She had opened many a concert before with “I’m Coming Out,” but the lyrics “There’s a new me coming out/And I just have to live/And I just wanna give/I’m completely positive” would take on greater significance just a few blocks away from the Times Square setting that will close World Pride next Sunday.

Taking the stage in an orange sequined gown amply adorned with feathers, Ross fiercely reclaimed the song that may be known more by some hip-hop heads from being sampled in “Mo Money Mo Problems,” the 1997 hit by the late Notorious B.I.G.

Then there was another big Gay Pride moment that recast “Love Child,” Ross’ 1968 No. 1 hit with the Supremes, in a whole different, multi-hued light. With the colors of the Gay Pride rainbow flag flashing behind her, Ross reached out and touched those who have ever felt “different from the rest.”

The song, originally about an illegitimate child, was now about anyone who ever felt “never quite as good” and “afraid, ashamed, misunderstood.” In that moment, “Love Child” captured the spirit of Gay Pride even more than “I’m Coming Out.”

Ross — whose well-preserved voice was in good form throughout, especially for a woman who was still celebrating her 75th birthday in March with this Diamond Diana tour — sang “Love Child” with a passion that you let you know that “I’ll always love you” is something she meant unconditionally.

After we lost Ross’ great contemporary Aretha Franklin last summer, it was great to see and celebrate the Supreme One, who doesn’t look or sound like she’s going anywhere anytime soon.

In fact, the only time she took a breather in the 90-minute concert was to do one of her quick costume changes, which clearly she has down pat after all of these years. Indeed, one of her biggest, though subtle, diva moments came when toward the end of “Touch Me in the Morning,” Ross smoothly detached her feathers from her gown and tossed them at the side of the stage as if they were yesterday’s garbage.

Buh-bye, feathers. Miss Ross will no longer be requiring your assistance.

But to the old-school fan who remembered the same transition at her 1983 Central Park concert, the most touching moment came when Ross segued from “Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You’re Going To)” to “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” (which, in a loopy but endearing Q&A later, she revealed is her favorite song to sing).

“If you need me, call me/No matter where you are, no matter how far,” she intoned with the same reassurance that she did 49 years ago.

Yes, you can still depend on Miss Ross. Never worry.

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