“THIS IS SO GOOD!!! I NEED MORE QUEER ARTISTS WRITING SONGS ABOUT QUEER ROMANCE!!!”
“This song is so important to me. It's helped me realize my sexuality... So in 2016, in June, in pride month, I just wanna say, I'm pansexual and proud.”
“AS A GAY, I FEEL VALIDATED. VALIGAYTED.”
“I’m transgender. This video makes me really really happy. I don't even care if I get called a slur in the comments, I love this video and it's important”
“Les bi an honest group of people, this is awesome”
“I'm gay and I approve this gay message with my gay heart”
“Seeing that someone changed the pronouns to she/she (girl to girl) makes me really emotional and I am really happy for this kind of representation in this song. Thank you”
“You've managed to eloquently put into words what I've been trying to explain to myself for most of my life. You have a way with words”
I love reading through the comments on queer music videos. It’s like all the queer people come out of the woodwork to squeal in all-caps or leave long novels about how the song spoke to them.
The first song that spoke to my queer little heart is actually not queer at all, by any standard. I remember listening to the radio in middle school and feeling all warm and fuzzy whenever “Nothin’ On You” came on, especially during Bruno Mars’ part. Who were these beautiful girls all over the world? Why did they remind me of girls that I knew? And why did I feel the sudden urge to chase them? These were questions that wouldn’t be answered until years later. (For the record, I still love this song and get the same feeling while listening to it now as I did seven years ago.)
I spent the rest of middle school subconsciously projecting my gayness onto straight songs. It wasn’t until the release of “Same Love” that I began to recognize overt queerness in music. I still thought I was straight at the time, but something about hearing Mary Lambert sing the line “She keeps me warm” over and over both shocked and resonated with me. When I finally came out to myself a year later, Mary’s voice was the only thing that could calm me down on the nights when I struggled to breathe because I was so overwhelmed by fear. Even though I’m in a much better place mentally right now, “Same Love” continues to calm me with the reminder that hate will never win and things will be okay.
I always get excited when I find out an artist is queer or when new queer music gets released. I teared up when I learned that my favorite singer, Lauren Jauregui from Fifth Harmony, came out as bi last fall. And I had an out-of-body experience while listening to “Strangers,” her duet with Halsey. Each verse by Halsey or Lauren begins with the pronoun “she,” and with each “she,” I felt my soul lift up a little higher into a rainbow paradise. Yeah, I know it’s just one little word, but there’s something so refreshing and validating about hearing one of your role models give voice to a part of your identity—especially if that part almost never appears in popular culture.
There’s a wide variety of queer music out there, and listeners can connect with it in different ways. Some songs address anti-LGBTQ hate, such as Troye Sivan’s “Talk Me Down,” which highlights the harmful effects of homophobia from parents and the risk of suicide. Others express the small nuances in many queer experiences, such as Hayley Kiyoko’s song “Sleepover” about her unrequited crush on a (presumably straight) friend who’s a girl. As someone who has fallen for countless straight girls, the line “Even when you’re next to me / it’s not the way I’m picturing” brings back a lot of memories. And while the lack of gendered pronouns in the song means that it could be sung by a straight girl who likes a straight guy (also known as the plot of nearly every rom-com in existence), the music video and corresponding interview with Hayley confirm that it is indeed about two girls. Knowing that it’s actually about two girls adds an extra layer of meaning for me. It’s a song written and performed by someone who gets it—who can capture how I feel.
And then there are the iconic anthems that the LGBTQ community can rally around; Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” is one that comes to mind. I’ll admit, I used to not like this song in middle school and never listened to it in its entirety until years later, so I completely missed how queer the whole thing is. However, I’ve since seen the error of my ways and now wholeheartedly embrace being “beautiful in my way / ‘Cause God makes no mistakes.”
If you’re looking for more music to add to your playlist, I asked some of my queer friends to send me their requeermendations. Here they are: Tegan and Sara, the Indigo Girls, Allison Weiss, Christine and the Queens, Elton John, Big Freedia, Frank Ocean, and Shamir. And, of course, I hope you check out the artists I previously mentioned: Mary Lambert, Troye Sivan, Lady Gaga, Halsey, and, my personal favorite, Lauren Jauregui (who I hope releases more queer songs!).
I’ve yet to go through all of their music, but what I’ve heard so far has made me feel empowered, heard, and included.
I feel valigayted indeed.
Becina J. Ganther ’20 is a Crimson editorial editor in Leverett House. Her column appears on alternate Thursdays.
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