Music offers listeners a pathway towards self-discovery. For queer individuals, music can expose them to the reality of their own identity in a way they may struggle to encounter it in their everyday life. To celebrate pride month, we asked our Digital Press writers to reflect on the music that inspired their gay awakening. From music videos to live performances, scroll through their respective articles below to read more.
“How to be a Heartbreaker”-Keifer
Electra Heart, MARINA’s sophomore album/alter ego, took tumblr by storm in 2012. I first caught wind of her with my discovery of the site in 2015 amidst my fifth grade spiral into fandom culture and love of anything printed on a t-shirt at Hot Topic. In an age before Spotify and streaming were the de facto means of music consumption, YouTube served as my main vehicle for expanding my sonic horizons. The visual medium provided some great benefits in furthering my love for MARINA as one of the first artists whose music I actively sought out. Her trademark heart shaped beauty mark, gowns and up-dos evoking old Hollywood glamor; MARINA’s visual aesthetic proved just as important as her sonic palette in defining her artistry at this point in her career.
And thank god for her appreciation for visuals, as she delivers in full force in the music video for “How to be a Heartbreaker.” MARINA celebrates her alter ego Electra Heart’s promiscuous heartbreaker lifestyle by singing in a shower with several muscular men in nothing but speedos. In my youth, I obviously just liked the song for musicianship’s sake. My love for the music video specifically had absolutely nothing to do with those guys in the shower. Of course, a few years later I realized there might have been another reason why I loved this music video so much. I lived a sheltered life at a Christian elementary and middle school. I learned about the existence of queerness when I was twelve years old and saw news of the national legalization of gay marriage in 2015. Though I may have discovered MARINA before I officially discovered homosexuality, she played a major role in helping me understand my sexuality when nothing else did.
So if you give the song a listen (and the music video a watch), you’ll know that rule number one is that you’ve got to have fun. Of course, rule number two is to realize you’ve been gay this whole time.
“Music Festival Fixation”-Candace
Annoyed at my friends for not letting me sleep in, I plucked myself from Emma’s couch, opting to extend my slumber into our twenty minute uber. Despite the intensity of my sixteen-year-old infatuation for Tyler, the Creator, another day at Camp Flog Gnaw just didn’t seem appealing. The dizzying heat of Exposition Park during a Los Angeles October was overwhelming, and while I was surprised at my struggle to fare through my first music festival, I couldn’t help but wish to be snuggled up in bed, drenched in blind contentment for my experience the day before.
Part of my unhappiness for the impending day lay in my unfamiliarity for the artists meant to perform before sundown. This melodic ignorance was shared throughout my group, and as we wandered aimlessly from stage to stage, we eventually settled on the Internet’s Syd, whose set had just started. As she began performing tracks off her 2017 album Fin, my lethargic temperament began to fade, and something within me was reawakened.
Upon hearing her sing “Body” and “Insecurity,” I increasingly became transfixed. I had never heard music romantically centered around two women before, and the longer her performance lasted, the easier my infatuated pull became to recognize. While I sometimes felt it possible for me to be attracted to other women, I often quickly abandoned that prospect, fearing the gravity of such a confrontation.
Attending Catholic school all my life, I had always been surrounded by a casual, yet deeply real form of homophobia. While this was my prior reason for overlooking the possibility of my own queerness, Syd’s performance reawakened me to a truth about my sexual identity that I could no longer turn away from.
Though it took three more years for me to come out after her set, my embryonic queerness internally blossomed as I continued to listen to her music. I now feel grateful for being forced out of bed during that weekend, and today I enjoy the heat of sunny, October days.