When I was 12, my mother walked into my bedroom, sat down and asked me if I knew what Prince was singing about on his song Darling Nikki. The news had just aired a story about its raciness, and she knew my Controversy and Purple Rain tapes were in heavy rotation. “No,” I said, “I mostly listen to the, uh, music.” I lied. A bit, anyway. Yes I understood the lyrics, mostly if not exactly. I knew they were above a 12 year-old’s knowledge of what sex was, and I also knew what level of uncomfortable the conversation was about to achieve, so I played dumb.
As the news of Prince’s death started to sink in, I read many remembrances, personal notes and heartfelt tributes to a genius whose work inspired artists of all disciplines. A singer, songwriter, dancer, filmmaker, style icon, feminine icon, masculine icon and musician sans pareil. One of those tributes was from my partner in Queens, Theo Langason. It was about him and his mother, and their relationship to Prince. I thought it was lovely. Thanks to Theo for letting me post it here.
“Today was hard. So many feelings. So many thoughts. As I process this loss, I am constantly comforted, affirmed, and empowered.
Prince Rogers Nelson was a black man who played black music. Undeniably himself, unapologetically black. The presence of his music and his soul in my life have influenced me in ways I could not fully grasp until now.
When I saw Prince I was peering into another world of possibilities for a black boy, like me. Prince let me know it was ok to be a weirdo. Prince encouraged me to find my voice and sing it loud. Prince taught me that home is most important. He helped me when I felt self conscious about being ‘man enough.’
Most importantly, Prince gave me a direct view into my own mother’s heart and soul. She raised me on Prince, because Prince spoke to her the way few could.
So as I weep writing this, I weep tears of the sincerest gratitude. Thank you Prince, for teaching me how to speak the language of my mother’s soul. Thank you Prince, for teaching to love myself. Thank you Prince, for the music.” – Theo