I Am What I Am

Writers - Jerry Herman
Unreleased (2005)

Accompanied by Scissor Sisters frontman Jakes Shears, Chris and Neil performed this famous song from Jerry Herman's hit musical La Cage Aux Folles (based, of course, on the French play and film of the same name) at the December 19, 2005 London "stag party" for Elton John and David Furnish to celebrate their upcoming civil union ceremony.

This song—the concluding number of the musical's first act—particularly resonates with gay people (and perhaps others as well) on multiple levels. The 1973 play, 1978 film, and 1983 musical all focus on a long-term, committed gay couple. Composer-lyricist Jerry Herman, who passed away in 2019, was both a giant in American musical theater (best known for Hello, Dolly! and Mame) and himself openly gay. The lyric specifically articulates a philosophy of individualism, defiance, and pride embraced by many if not most openly gay people in contemporary post-industrial societies. And, shortly after the show's opening, the song was made into major dance hit by disco diva/icon Gloria Gaynor. It soon emerged as a genuine Gay Pride anthem.

Incidentally, on a subsequent occasion Neil performed a live medley of PSB's "Love Comes Quickly" and the Scissor Sisters' "It Can't Come Quickly Enough"—an ingenious if not inevitable coupling—with the entire Scissor Sisters band. But since Chris wasn't involved in that performance, I'm not giving the latter song an entry here.

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