Prince, the iconic gender-bending original, 57, died at his home in Minneapolis on Thursday.
His stance on LGBT issues may have been difficult to pin down, but if he wasn't a political ally, he was definitely a cultural one.
Fans online are sharing a video from 1980 that is being billed as his first ever television performance. In the video, Prince wears thigh-high stockings, earrings and high heels. He sings: "I Wanna Be Your Lover" adding, "I wanna be your brother, I wanna be your mother and your sister, too." This line contains an unbelievably queer vibe, particularly coming from a man already known for his gender bending as a performer. The singer even recorded an album as his female alter-ego, Camille in 1986.
However, it is perhaps Prince's sex-positive legacy that appeals to many of his LGBT fans. In "I Wanna Be Your Lover," Prince sings graphically about wanting to be "the only one you come for" as an expression of his deepest love. He was known for songs like "Little Red Corvette," a complicated, profoundly humiliating, excitingly painful but up-tempo masterpiece that puts sex and love in an equation where sex comes first.
As a Jehovah's Witness, a religion that condemns pre-marital sex, Prince's extremely sexual work seemed to contradict itself. At one point, the artist changed his name to an enigmatic symbol, perhaps most fitting, as his work transcends personal identity.
When news of the singer's death spread, LGBT celebrities lamented his passing on social media.
I am really not right over this. RIP #Prince this is devastating.
— Laverne Cox (@Lavernecox) April 21, 2016
Prince wrote some of my most favorite songs. May he rest in peace wearing an amazing jumpsuit with plenty of doves to keep him company.
— Tegan and Sara (@teganandsara) April 21, 2016
Prince was a weird black kid from the Midwest, creative, ambitious, sexy, messing with gender. He was a beacon for a Midwest girl like me.
— roxane gay (@rgay) April 21, 2016
Out R&B singer Frank Ocean called the passing of Prince "Bigger than death." In a tribute on his Tumblr, Ocean wrote that he was too nervous to ever meet the singer, but said he was proud to be a Prince fan for life. In his note, he remembered Prince as a "straight black man who played his first televised set in bikini bottoms and knee high high heeled boots, epic." Prince gave Ocean permission to be open about his own sexual identity. "He made me feel more comfortable with how I identify sexually simply by his display of freedom from and irreverence for obviously archaic ideas like gender conformity etc." He was a "vanguard" and "genius," wrote Ocean in his tribute to the singer.
Watch Jennifer Hudson and the cast of "The Color Purple" on Broadway perform a tribute to Prince.