By Kat Hamilton
A few years ago, I scribbled down the lyrics to a song that is now my band’s most popular. I wanted to write a pop song that could represent my sexuality, but also be universally applicable. The day I wrote the chorus to “Kiss Me,” I was on my way to catch a Megabus to NYC. It’s funny how many nights I spent trying to find the words, and then just like that, they came at the most inconvenient time.
In this strange time of what I like to call “homosensitivity,” LGBTQ musicians are presented with a fork. Prong A: have your identity be your shtick. Prong B: have your identity be separate from the music altogether. I define homosensitivity as the societal need to know what’s up. I don’t run into a lot of homophobic people anymore, but people pry about my orientation as if it’s the only thing that makes me interesting.
“Kiss Me” is a catchy song, but I think people like it because it addresses homosexuality in a way that is neither degrading nor pushy, or all about it. Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” is a blatant example of a song that is only relatable on a heteronormative level. It discusses homosexuality, but it invalidates it as well. On the other side of the coin, “Same Love” by Macklemore is a terrific song, but very specifically about issues of sexuality. It’s so specific it can alienate an entire audience by being “too preachy.” (Don’t raise your pitchforks, please!)
When we filmed the video for “Kiss Me,” I was very concerned with inclusiveness. I was worried that by including heterosexual pairings, we would alienate the queer community and visa-versa. I am proud that my band is queer-friendly, but I think we all want to appeal to a broader audience with our music. I finally decided that we absolutely had to include as many ethnicities, genders, and sexual orientations as we had access to.
“Secrets” by Mary Lambert is a song that I consider a queer anthem. You know she’s gay, but the song is an umbrella for everyone to hang out under. In the context of punk rock, Against Me! “Transgender Dysphoria Blues” is what I consider a queer anthem. Not because the song isn't specifically about the struggle of a trans person, but because of the narrative being in 3rd person. If the song stated “I’ve got no cunt in my strut” it would feel much more alienating to those who are unfamiliar or have never met a trans-person.
My biggest frustration with LGBTQ portrayal in music is that it is homosensitive. There aren’t enough queer friendly anthems - songs that every person can jam out to and feel included in at the same time.
Come join Kat Hamilton and the rest of Manic Pixi at Punk Out's first benefit show, Saturday, 4 April at Arlene's Grocery in New York City. Half the proceeds will go the the Attic Youth Center, a homeless LGBTQ youth shelter based in Philadelphia. Tickets can be purchased here.
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