I noticed on the web (and on here) that many fans are gay men -- young and old who absolutley love the music. It's almost considered a gay stereotype (like liking Cher or ABBA), and their fans have been predominantly gay men and straight women.
Is it that straight men who enjoy them are too embarassed to admit to liking soft, "effeminate" sounds about love and gay men don't have that stigma? I think many gay men love Karen and her voice. Many can identify strongly with her tragic personal life (like other gay icons) and tragic death. She was an outsider who led a sad life of pain that she tried to hide. She was almost punished for being herself and didn't feel like she belonged in her family (like gay people might). Her self destructive behavior is one some can check off for themselves. Also, anorexia is second most common in gay men.
But I think gay guys can relate the lyrics and sounds of the saddness and pain in her voice to there own lives and find a sense of comfort and solace in them. She sings out the emotion built up and the music becomes cathartic. Karen's personality and warmth attracts outsiders who can feel better knowing about her. Gay men love women who they can strongly identify with and Karen fits the bill. I also believe that, more than straights, gay's can appreciate beauty and asthetic more than straight men can who dismiss it as shallow love songs.
But, what do you think?