Bronski Beat not only introduced the world to Jimmy's unique voice, their debut smash hit Smalltown Boy tackled pertinent social issues with it’s lyric addressing the isolation and rejection felt by a provincial gay youth forced into leaving town. Although not the first pop song to deal with this topic, Bronski Beat’s chart friendly early 80's electronic dance sound and the everyday ordinariness and honesty of the three performers, made Smalltown Boy the biggest record about gay issues there'd ever been.
Jimmy’s next band The Communards enjoyed a string of hits from their two hit albums Communards (1986) and Red (1987). One moment the Communards were hurtling to the number one spot - a position they held for weeks in the UK in 1986 - with their energetic, hedonistic cover version of the Philly soul classic Don't Leave Me This Way, the next stunning audiences into silent awe with their touching lament for a loved one lost to AIDS, For A Friend.
1989 saw Jimmy embark on a solo career with 5 more hit singles and two albums; Read My Lips (1989) and The Singles Collection (1990). These included a stirring cover of Sylvester's disco anthem You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real).
Jimmy's continued outspokenness on gay issues didn't prevent his records being played and selling in huge quantities. His honesty as a gay performer almost certainly helped to pave the way for his success.