First of all, I love the term “Queer”. There is something unifying and inclusive about it. It covers a lot of ground. In the past year, I’ve really taken to identifying as queer vs. gay or lesbian. I hear it often in the music scene especially. Musicians are looking to connect to an identifier that can represent the fluidity of their gender and sexuality.
When I think about queer representation in music right now, I think a lot about Laura Jane Grace. Against Me! represents a shift in the priorities of modern music. She came out as transgender and societies acceptance of that, dwarfed its outrage. Suddenly her “Gender is over” tank top was at every show I went to. Her coming out really opened a door for some other bands to play to a wider audience.
I’m a huge fan of what CUTTERS and PWR BTTM have done with their music. I’m also really excited about certain pop acts that are coming up and speaking out. Celebrities like Halsey and Miley Cyrus have come out as queer and despite my feelings toward their music, I admire how that can cause a ripple effect in pop culture and gender roles. There is an incredible video for Happy Hippie Presents where Laura, Miley Cyrus, and Joan Jett singing the Replacements “Androgynous”. This performance is a microcosm of the positive influence of Queer culture. By having an identifier that is more inclusive, the community is coming together in new and inspiring ways.
Manic Pixi has become an amazing forum for me to speak out. We play with so many bands that are building queer community. They feel the same social responsibility as we do. Something about Manic Pixi that I love is, despite personal identifiers, everyone in the band wants to build community with our music. I’m the big homo in the band which is why I tend to answer these interviews. I feel like I have a responsibility as an out queer woman. But when the rest of the band takes interviews they are always incredibly well spoken on social issues. They consider themselves feminists and are not shy about it. They speak out on issues that affect them.
As long as I’ve been out (which is almost 10 years!), I have felt a personal responsibility to represent my queerness openly. Not that it needs to be the only focus, but I am mindful of it at all times. If you have seen, Manic Pixi, then you know that I often wear a hot pink Barbie inspired outfit on stage. This choice in presentation was a conscious rebellion against what society believes to be what a queer person looks like. A rebellion against what is believed to be feminine. I am always getting comments like “You don’t look gay!” or “You are too pretty to be a lesbian!” I wanted to use the visibility I gain through performance to show the world there isn’t a prescribed way a woman should look or act. My queerness is not subject to the court of public opinion, it is mine to reveal in any way I like.
I’m very excited about the way the world is changing. Mostly the way I have seen these pockets of music scenes propelling that change forward. Bands are using their visibility to comment on the issues around them. I feel like artists weren’t speaking up as much for a while. They weren’t calling out Misogyny or Racism like they are now. As far as I can tell, it is a great time to be a queer person in music. People will rally behind you if something unsafe happens. There are so many forums to speak out our truth. Trans rights issues and the problems that face the non-binary are finally getting attention. Overall, I feel very positive about being a queer musician in our current climate. If I weren’t a beautiful homo butterfly I wouldn’t feel the purpose I do now. I wouldn’t have connected with all of the amazing musicians I have met in my explorations in the same way.
Kat Hamilton’s band Manic Pixi has just released their album IRON HEART.