In honor of Atlanta’s Pride celebration, I wanted to do an article on musicians and musical artists that are part of the LGBTQ+ community. I’m inspired by these people because they’re able to live life to the fullest in a society that doesn’t always accept them. I think they’ll inspire you, too.
King Princess is a self-identified “genderqueer” artist from Brooklyn, New York, whose music speaks about her love for women. Her music has a sound that is very distinct from the generic pop you hear on the radio. She writes her own songs and crafted her debut EP “Make My Bed,” which includes the songs “Talia” and “1950.” “Talia” is about a breakup King Princess went through. She talks about how the more she drinks, the more she can envision the relationship she once had: “I can see you dancing/I can lay down next to you at the foot of my bed/If I drink enough, I can taste your lipstick/I can lay down next to you/but it’s all in my head/If I drink enough/I swear that I will wake up next to you.” This was the first King Princess song I listened to and I simply fell in love with her lyrics and sound. In the song “1950,” King Princess talks about how people who identified as part of the LGBTQ+ community back in the 1950s couldn’t express themselves freely like we can today: “I love it when we play 1950/it’s so cold your stare’s ‘bout to kill me/I’m surprised when you kiss me.” As an artist, she wants this song, and all her music, to mean something to somebody.
Like King Princess, Hayley Kiyoko also sings about her love for women. Known as a “lesbian Jesus” to her fans, Kiyoko claims she “was ready to be judged” when she came out as a lesbian. Since coming out, Kiyoko released the album “Expectations,” a tribute to being able to express her true feelings. The cover art depicts Kiyoko looking at a nude woman who is leaning on her side. “Feelings” and “Sleepover” are two songs on the album that stand out to me. In “Feelings,” Kiyoko sings about how she doesn’t want to hide her feelings from her crush. “Sleepover” is a softer, mellower song, about Kiyoko getting herself out of “the friend zone.” Kiyoko also directed a music video for her song “Girls Like Girls,” which tells the story about two girls who secretly have feelings for each other but can’t come out because one of the girls has a boyfriend. Kiyoko is an inspiration for her fans. In January of this year, she created the hashtag #20GAYTEEN that has been sweeping across social media. “It’s our year, it’s our time. To thrive and let our souls feel alive. #20GAYTEEN #expectations2018,” she tweeted to her followers. Hayley Kiyoko continues to do her thing and be an amazing role model for the LGBTQ+ community.
Syd (originally Syd Tha Kyd) has said that she hates the label “lesbian” and would stop “going out to places to avoid uncomfortable conversations.” The vocalist for the R&B group The Internet has had to deal with a lot of controversy and prejudice throughout her career. In the music video for the song “Cocaine,” Syd portrays a woman who feeds her girlfriend drugs and eventually throws the girlfriend out of her car. While Syd explained that the video was meant to be about what drugs can do to you, not everyone was happy about it. “The backlash from the gay community hurt my feelings,” she said in an interview with The Guardian. Before joining The Internet, Syd was a member of the group Odd Future, but she left because of homophobic slurs other members of the group would say.
Janelle Monae, the R&B singer known for her soulful music, came out as pansexual this year. Initially, Monae identified as bisexual, until she read about pansexuality and realized that this identity was a better fit for her. On her album “Electric Lady,” the song “Q.U.E.E.N.” was originally called “Q.U.E.E.R.,” and you can actually hear the word “queer” in the background if you listen closely. This isn’t the only album where her song lyrics express her views on sexuality. On “Dirty Computer,” the song “Make Me Feel” includes a powerful statement: “You keep asking me the same questions (why?)/And second-guessing my intentions.” Janelle Monae isn’t just talking about her love life and sexuality, but also the questions she gets asked about it all the time. Her lyrics always hint at the answers to these questions people have.
One of my favorite things about these four women is their act of courage. They didn’t have to come out or reveal how they see themselves, but they did. It’s hard to reveal your identity to so many people, especially if you’re in the public eye. I admire these people for stepping out and saying something, showing that it is okay to be yourself.
To listen to these artists, as well as a few others, click on the Spotify link below.
Brooklyn Williams, 13, a student at KIPP STRIVE Academy, has a love for drawing and sketching, and just art in any form.