2018 Is The Year Of The Queer Woman Pop Star
September 25, 2018 2:49 AM   Subscribe

I've read the article.

It seems to miss the Elephant in the room of Racism.

Racism and Homo/Bi/Pan-phobia mean that the mainstream receptions that a Caucasian artist gets from Coming Out are very different to the reactions/repercussions that a POC artist gets.

Also I feel that (especially in mainstream music) the male gaze is such an all powerful/pervasive narrative view, that it can easily pervert how an artist gets presented/interpreted, sometimes even despite their intentions to portray themselves as otherwise.

Lots to think about and unpack there though.
posted by Faintdreams at 4:08 AM on September 25, 2018 [6 favorites]

I'd like to add Lauren Ruth Ward - Make Love To Myself
posted by signal at 4:28 AM on September 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

For what it's worth, Kehlani, Jauregui, Kiyoko, and Monae are all WOC. I am not sure whether Lovato self-identifies as a WOC or not; she's discussed her Latinx heritage but has also mentioned that she views herself as looking white. We can have a talk about light skin privilege, and LGBTQ+ POC are absolutely more marginalized in general, but I don't think we can just dismiss them.
posted by Anonymous at 5:28 AM on September 25, 2018

I don’t think it’s just racism. For instance, if you look back at the whole Frank Ocean deal, a majority black or Latino audience and scene of musical peers may respond differently to coming out by virtue of a different distribution of opinions on homosexuality. If you look at the celebrity gossip around rappers and R&B singers, you’ll see ‘Confidential’ magazine-type speculation regularly.
posted by Selena777 at 5:54 AM on September 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

I know that ".. Kehlani, Jauregui, Kiyoko, and Monae are all WOC". I wasn't saying that Racism is the ONLY factor here just that of all the factors (and there are many) mentioned in the linked article, that Racism isn't directly mentioned, or even alluded to, which seems like a strange omission.
posted by Faintdreams at 6:08 AM on September 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'm kind of confused by that comment, to be honest; I think that racism in this context is important and worth discussing, but the main focus and commentary in the piece is on queer women, and it discusses the trajectories of each artist with three to five paragraphs focusing on those two axes of their identity. I'm not sure that treating racism and race-specific experiences as central themes in the discussion of the experiences of the WoC in the article is something you could do without making the piece much longer and much more complex, particularly given the very diverse racial backgrounds of the women in question: Monae's relationship to her work and the android themes in the lens of Afrofuturism, say, is an article in and of itself, but it doesn't tie neatly into discussing Kiyoko's specific experiences or that of the other women being profiled.

Honestly, I am honestly sort of... this is a piece that's focused on one intersection which is already pretty fraught and dances on a lot of conflict specifically within communities of queer women (particularly along explosive and decades-long tensions between lesbian and bi/pan women). I'm kind of startled that the very first response to it is being pissed off that it doesn't also simultaneously grapple with a third axis of marginalization that affects several artists on the list in different ways.
posted by sciatrix at 6:30 AM on September 25, 2018 [25 favorites]

Dirty Computer has become my favorite album I can't bear to listen to this year because song after song Monáe just nails both the anger, fear, and the hope of these times, and how we are politicized not entirely by our own choices. "I'm Afraid" easily is the rawest track of the year so far for me.

Lady Gaga is a frustrating case because the fact that she came out is consistently forgotten or not-mentioned, with an example as recently as last week. It's nice to see that unpacked.

Other names: Rina Sawayama, Gabby Wortman (Smoke Season), Lucy LaForge (Lucy & La Mer).
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 6:42 AM on September 25, 2018 [9 favorites]

Cycling back to the main piece...

Now, queer pop stars tend to be believed when they come out, which is progress, but after they do, they face scrutiny from queer audiences eager to pit them against one other to establish who’s the wokest and the queerest.

This is maybe true, but it strikes me that this is only true if you come out now: I still routinely hear Lady Gaga, for example, referred to as an "ally". Ditto Kesha. Once the perception of being a "fake" queerbaiting artist sets in, I find that it's often difficult to reset responses to the artist in broader communities, and I see artists who in retrospect appear to be testing the waters of "outness" burned by the same backlash of queer community response. (For example, recall the original response to Demi Lovato's Cool For the Summer back in 2015, when in at least my circles the immediate pronouncement was that "great, here's I Kissed A Girl all over again!" That must have been a pretty painful response to Lovato, particularly only two years before she outed herself last year.)

There's an absence of one of the big things I see missing from this analysis, which is the gender presentation politics I think hit many of these stars, particularly those who have hyper-visible megastar pop careers (I'd name Kesha, Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus and possibly Demi Lovato here) where the acceptable range of gender presentations is constrained by handlers to the hyper-femme. I think that women who engage in being publicly gender non-conforming from the beginning of their careers get a much more "oh, okay, you're just taking your time admitting it, but you're probably actually queer" type of response than women who initially present in a more conventionally femme way--especially if that femme presentation incorporates any form of "attention grabbing." Compare and contrast to the reception of stars like St. Vincent, Tegan and Sara, and Janelle Monae, for example.

It must be very hard to test the waters of being openly queer when you see that dynamic around you, especially when you're trying to out yourself as bi or pan rather than lesbian and you see women who share that identity immediately rejected as making a ploy for attention (as the article itself engages in!). I don't really have a lot of criticism for audiences making that rejection, to be fair: I've ranted about I Kissed A Girl as many times as anyone else, and it really and truly does suck to feel like your desire for representation only appears when it is suitably attractive to the libidos of observing men. And I'm as hungry as any other gender-non-conforming person to see myself reflected in popular culture. But I'm also sympathetic to the level of rejection that these women can receive if they out themselves in the "wrong" way from other queer women, and I find myself wincing at the way that the pain and inflammation on all sides seem to hit queer women the hardest, no matter what they do.
posted by sciatrix at 6:46 AM on September 25, 2018 [37 favorites]

And here's my own obligatory queer artist tax:

Missy Higgins - Unashamed Desire
Mary Lambert - Secrets
posted by sciatrix at 6:56 AM on September 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

sciatrix: Good observation, and I really don't think that's "new." Take for example Etheridge and Jett vs. Madonna back a few decades.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 6:57 AM on September 25, 2018 [4 favorites]

I'd add King Princess - 1950 to the list.
posted by augustimagination at 7:02 AM on September 25, 2018 [2 favorites]

Also Lady Leshurr - Queen's Speech 4
posted by ellieBOA at 7:08 AM on September 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

And Princess Nokia - Tomboy!
posted by ellieBOA at 7:14 AM on September 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

Lady Gaga is a frustrating case because the fact that she came out is consistently forgotten or not-mentioned

I was actively surprised when they mentioned Lady Gaga coming out recently - I never thought she was in (the closet). I know I'm old and don't listen to modern music, but from the first that I heard of Lady Gaga in the mid-2000s, I knew she was bi/pan.

But maybe that's because I'm bi. Also, the correct answer to "Are you a practicing bisexual?" is "I don't need to practice because I already have it down perfect."
posted by jb at 7:50 AM on September 25, 2018 [5 favorites]

As a bi woman, for a very long time I've wished that we would stop needing to measure how well someone is doing their sexuality (not gay enough / too gay / phase only etc.) and how well they're representing 'their minority'. Sexuality has always been complex, and of course so have all the issues of race and visibility layered on top of that.

The encouraging thing to me is that the conversation is starting to deepen, which is the whole point of the article. It's slowly starting to become more OK to move around the spectrum instead of having to remain fixed at one end for all time, and I'm really happy to see it. Progress! Always slower than we'd like but positive movement nonetheless.
posted by widdershins at 8:13 AM on September 25, 2018 [13 favorites]

Christine and the Queens!
posted by matildaben at 8:30 AM on September 25, 2018 [4 favorites]

I think the discussion of racism as a complication is absolutely vital to this article, as are other concerns about not only who is safe to come out but who is safe enough and conventionally successful enough to include in the article. Why Lady Gaga can afford to be visible where it's so much more of a question for Queen Latifah, that the spaces she occupies are so much more precarious. To refuse to look at what's missing is to pretend nothing is missing.

And so much is missing here.

Queen Latifah, Laura Jane Grace of Against Me!, Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre, La Roux, Angel Haze, Erin McKeown, Rae Spoon, the histories of Riot Grrrl and queer punk bands, Tribe 8 and Team Dresch, the Butchies, bands that are small time to straight cis people but that can be huge inside the community.

Angel Haze's amazing cover of Macklemore's "Same Love", which utterly buries the original.

Erin Mckeown's "Queer Gospel"

And finally for fun, the Good Asian Drivers cover of Katy Perry's "I Kissed A Girl", which is delightful on many levels.
posted by bile and syntax at 10:43 AM on September 25, 2018 [9 favorites]

I wasn't offended by the omission of acts like Queen Latifah, Riot Grrrl, Joan Jett and others because the article is focused on pop. I was, however, baffled by the omission of t.a.t.u. as "pioneers" of fauxmosexuality.

Nevertheless, I thought it was a good article, and a GREAT post.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 11:37 AM on September 25, 2018 [4 favorites]

Rina Sawayama’s song “Cherry” is the queer pan anthem of 2018!
posted by mr. manager at 1:09 PM on September 25, 2018

Thank you matildaben for mentioning Christine and the Queens. I adore absolutely everything she's been putting out for her new album, "Chris." I am particularly obsessed with her video for 5 dollars.
posted by Rora at 5:35 PM on September 25, 2018

« Older "Mmmm has that new viper smell"   |   Hypothetical Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments