Sylvester would’ve been 66 years-old today. The disco icon was disrupting gender norms before it was a popular or edgy — in Sylvester’s time, a man in drag was considered sick. But Sylvester knew he was blessed with a talent for performance art, and most importantly, a phenomenal voice. English journalist Stephen Brogan said, “He only happened once. He was a radical and a visionary in terms of queerness, music and race.”
Originally from the Watts area of Los Angeles, California he was known for songs like 1986’s “Someone Like You,” 1978’s "Dance (Disco Heat)" and the epic "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)." As unconventional as Sylvester was, he still had huge hits and in many ways was accepted by the “mainstream.” It just goes to show you how far being your authentic self will take you — even an over six foot, black man in drag who sang in his falsetto 40 years ago.
Sylvester passed away in 1988 at 41, but on this day — let’s not forget the legend.
Check out my favorite Sylvester performance below.