What do you make of a song called “Ain’t Nobody Straight In L.A.” that dates back to 1975? Pretty progressive, yeah?
In retrospect, it’s worth noting how far ahead of the curve Motown was on queerness in the mid ‘70s. The band Apollo featured gay future music executive Benny Medina. The Dynamic Superiors boasted a very open lead singer (Tony Washington) and topped the soul charts with shoe shoe shine. Carl Bean packed dance floors with “I Was Born This Way” (30 years before Gaga y’all). But those were all fringe artists. The Miracles, even though Smokey Robinson was no longer part of the picture, were still a priority. And a song like this had to have been seen as career suicide back then. Hell for a male artist or vocal group TODAY it might still be considered career suicide.
Historical context counts for some but not all of “Straight”’s five-star rating. It’s actually a solid groove, with way more of a Latin feel than just about anything in Motown’s catalog. The Miracles even sing a portion of the song in Spanish! Plus, I’m a sucker (NPI) for songs with spoken interludes, and The Miracles deciding to settle in a gay bar because some of the finest women hang out there is hilarious. Like “LET ME REASSERT MY HETEROSEXUALITY RIGHT NOW”! Still…for 1975…hats off.