Oppressive (The Best Gay Possible)
by Pet Shop Boys and Panti Bliss

Writers - Tennant/Lowe/O'Neill
First released - 2014
Original album - (none)
Producer - Pet Shop Boys
Subsequent albums - (none)
Other releases - Officially released on SoundCloud

Also commonly referred to by its subtitle, "The Best Gay Possible," this track was produced and performed by Neil and Chris—with no one else's assistance—in late February 2014 in the wake of a remarkable speech given on February 1, 2014 at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin by the Irish drag artist and gay rights activist Panti Bliss (aka Pandora Panti Bliss, born Rory O'Neill). This speech was inspired by a controversy that had erupted in Ireland over comments he had made on television several weeks earlier, in which he alleged homophobia on the part of various Irish journalists. In response, some of the named journalists had threatened legal action, apparently maintaining that opposition to gay rights—gay marriage in particular—was neither homophobic nor oppressive, and that Panti had engaged in "hate speech." As a result, Panti found himself being (as he put it) "lectured to by heterosexual people" as to what is and isn't homophobia or oppressive towards gay people.

Rightly outraged by this turn of events, Panti indignantly rails in his Abbey Theatre speech against the "neat Orwellian trick" by which gay people like him are apparently no longer permitted to call out homophobia when they see and hear it, or to label oppression when they feel it. As he sarcastically (and bitingly) asserts, it would seem that gay people are no longer the victims of homophobia—rather, homophobes themselves are. This, despite the fact that, at best, the rights of gay people are still widely debated (as if they should be a matter of debate) and, at worst, gay people are still being tortured and murdered around the world. He also laments the way in which society causes internalized homophobia in gay people themselves, himself included. As he confesses, "I hate myself for that."

Impressed by what they considered (in Neil's words) "a great statement in this age when gay marriage and cruel homophobia exist side by side," the Boys decided to put excerpts of Panti's speech to music just a couple weeks after it he delivered it. They composed an atmospheric backing track, set key segments of the speech to it, and turned it over to Panti himself, who then released it to the world on SoundCloud in early March 2014, about a week after the Boys recorded it. That initial release was a "Dance Mix," rhythmically in a light house/trance vein that, as the title of the mix indicates, would be right at home in most dance clubs. A "Slow Mix" surfaced just a few days later, virtually identical to the Dance Mix except in its statelier, more placid rhythm track, which served to place even greater emphasis on the import of Panti's words. Both mixes were handled by Chris.

A little more than ten minutes in length, the track features, interspersed amidst segments of Panti's speech, Neil's own high-pitched background vocals, offering:

Where's the love?
Where's the love?
Where's the love?
I've been waiting here for you
For so many years

In addition to questioning the spirit of those who actively oppose gay rights ("Where's the love?"), these words suggest that perhaps Neil and Chris have, in effect, been themselves waiting for some public figure like Panti to speak out on this topic in such a powerful and eloquent manner. Either that or they're simply trying to give voice to gay people in general, expressing how most of them would surely feel about it.

Neil says that they have no plans to release it commercially at this time, although it remains to be seen what the future holds. He has also noted that, although someone else had also already put portions of Panti's speech to music and released the results to the world, he and Chris had written and recorded their track before they had heard or even become aware of that other recording. (In case you're wondering, that other musical setting, titled "Oppression," was created by an Irish musician/producer who goes by the name Out!Rage. It was released on iTunes and has proven fairly popular, particularly within Ireland.)



Officially released

List cross-references