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Yes, Kurt Cobain was a grunge icon. He was also a gay rights hero.

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In September 1991, I was a nervous freshman at the University of Michigan, sitting on a friend's dorm room floor, when a guy ran in from down the hall, saying, "You've got to hear this". He fed a cassette tape into the stereo, and I heard Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana for the first time. It's hard to capture how radical that song and that moment felt. Cobain and his bandmates were suddenly ubiquitous, an explosion of insolent Pacific Northwest cool into my deeply uncool, and fundamentally conservative, Midwestern world. Hearing his music was like receiving a dispatch from another spiritual plane, one that offered irrefutable evidence that there were other ways of living - and maybe other ways of loving, too.

Grunge hero Kurt Cobain died 25 years ago this week.Credit:Frank Micelotta

I don't speak of love idly. Cobain is the Gen X icon who popularised alternative music and culture, but on the 25th anniversary of his death this weekend, I cherish another aspect of his legacy much more: his consistent and vocal support of gay rights. Something began to change in me the moment Smells Like Teen Spirit came on in that dorm room, and it wasn't just my grungy new approach to fashion. Cobain's "oh well, whatever, never mind" attitude about sexual identity, expressed in lyrics and........

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