This week, the Abbott government has disappointed us once again. After more than five hours in a meeting, Tony Abbott and the Coalition have once again left Australia in the world’s ‘traditionalist’ shadow, denying the decision for a conscious vote for Marriage Equality. If you’re on any form of social media, you’d know people are not happy about this news. They can’t understand how places like the USA and Ireland can pass similar laws, but Australians can’t even get a foot in the chapel door.
It may seem hopeless now but, as an optimist, I still believe that one day we will have marriage equality for all Australians. And so, we’ve put together a little playlist from proud LGBTQI artists to keep our spirits up. We need to fight for those who are going unheard. Like these artists, we have a platform to express a certain view and have a voice above the rest of the community. Here are some of their stories.
Mykki Blanco – Wavvy
Mykki Blanco has been one of the most outspoken rappers within the LGBTQI community. The rapper bravely revealed that she was HIV positive, having also previously announced that she would quit music to become an investigative journalist, concentrating on LGBT issues. We refer to her as ‘she’ as per her wishes as she embarks on what she calls the beginning of a transgendered life. “You may not know it yet, but Mykki Blanco isn’t just female Mykki. Mykki Blanco is Mykki Blanco ‘female,’ Mykki Blanco ‘male,’ Mykki Blanco with blue eyes, Mykki Blanco with three eyes. I’m probably eventually going to do a video where it’s not Mykki, where it’s completely genderless, where it won’t be Mykki ‘boy’ or ‘girl,” she tells Dummy Magazine.
Her break out 2012 track Wavvy is said to be one of the most influential in emerging LGBTQI community within rap culture. When you look at the music video, you can see both sides of Blanco’s identity. The fact that she decided to make this clear so early in her career is inspiring.
St Vincent – Cruel
St Vincent has kept talk of her sexuality low key. It’s not that she’s hiding it; rather, she doesn’t want to be defined by it – and she doesn’t want to define it. In an interview with Rolling Stone she says, “I believe in gender fluidity and sexual fluidity. I don’t really identify as anything… I don’t have anything to hide, but I’d rather the emphasis be on music.”
Her music reflects on her personal experiences, so if you listen closely to can hear the little hidden messages. Cruel is one of the most obvious ones, with lines like “Bodies, can’t you see what everybody wants from you? f you could want that, too, then you’ll be happy.”
The music video also gives away a political undertone, where is she kidnapped and forced to be a wife and mother – a traditionalist notion that can often come head-to-head with some in the LGBTQI community.
Angel Haze – Battle Cry
Angel Haze is one of the newest LGBTQI rappers on the scene. In an interview with Fusion TV, Haze identified herself as a pansexual, otherwise known as people “who love across a spectrum.”
Her 2014 track Battle Cry featuring Sia (who is also apart of the LGBTQI community) tackles the darkness every LGBTQI person feels when they are told that the way they feel is wrong. The powerful video illustrates her pain and suffering – having been pushed around, her whole life, being told how to feel. Religion is one of the biggest obstacles for marriage equality, with the notion of a man and woman in marriage being the only one acceptable. According to them, all other forms of love are wrong.
Haze gives these people strength. Her emotional story tells those who listen that they can survive, even when it all seems hopeless. Even through the dark times, “You take it all and you still go/Take the sun and you still grow/ Lose the light and you still glow”.
Years and Years – Real
Years and Years Frontman Olly Alexander has been an advocate for gay artists using gender specific pronouns in their songs. As an openly gay musician, he has in two tracks on their last album, Real and Memo. “I’d like to hear a gay artist express their sexuality in a really open way. That’s something I’ve sort of tried to do a little bit on this album, but to be able to talk about sex is possibly new for gay artists, so I’d like to see that in the mainstream. I think you’re right – music does feel like it’s in a much more accepted, tolerant place; even with Miley Cyrus, when she doesn’t identify with either gender, and we’re getting used to these ideas of about non-binary gender, which is a good thing,” he told Digital Spy.
Real is about loving someone and attempting to peruse them, but you can’t have them. While it sounds like it’s a take on unrequited love on the surface, it could be taken another way. While some people are out and proud about showing who they are to the world, others aren’t quite there yet. They will deny who they are and reject others’ advances, even if they don’t want to.
Frank Ocean – Forrest Gump
When Frank Ocean came out in 2012, many musicians refused to work with him. T-Pain told Vlad TV, “”I know n***as that will not do a song with Frank Ocean just because he gay, but they need him on the f**king song and that’s so terrible to me, man… What I do ain’t going to affect nothing that you got going on.”
There are a few songs that hint Ocean’s sexuality, including Forrest Gump. Like Years and Years, he uses male pronouns instead of female ones. Lines like “my fingertips, and my lips, they burn” imply that it was about a relationship that feels wrong. So wrong, it hurts.
Laura Jane Grace and Miley Cyrus – True Trans Soul Rebel
Both Laura Jane Grace and Miley Cyrus have come out as transsexual and bisexual respectively. They performed True Trans Soul Rebel together to launch the Happy Hippie Foundation. The Foundation promotes awareness of LGBTQI issues, among many others. The lyrics of the song portray the thoughts many transgender people have while they are stuck in the wrong body, including that they “should be living a different life.”
Mary Lambert – She Keeps Me Warm
Mary Lambert is one of the few openly gay female musicians in the music industry. Being both a Christian and lesbian, the internal and external conflicts have, of course, been prevalent. Before it was featured as the chorus of Ryan Lewis and Macklemore’s Same Love with her as the female vocals, the lyrics were a part of the singer’s own track She Keeps Me Warm. The slow, folk-like song was a heartfelt ballad saying that this is simply who she is and she “can’t change, even if [she] wanted to.”
Azealia Banks – 212
Azealia Banks is one of the most controversial of those on this list. Despite being bisexual and using female pronouns in 212, she is often called homophobic due to her gay slurs on social media. This might just be another example of others lacking in understanding of what homophobia is. When you read her tweets, you may see what I mean. For instance, her tweet about men being proud of their sexuality could be taken as others missing the fact that women can be gay as well, however, this isn’t as publicised.
The Internet – Girl
The Internet’s frontwoman Syd The Kyd came out in the Odd Future’s music video for Cocaine. Her sexuality is made explicitly obvious in Girl. She sings about the passion LGBTQI people feel in their relationship, implying they are exactly the same as those in heterosexual relationships. They have the same fire and lust that eventually grows into love. So why shouldn’t they have the same rights as we do?
The Smiths – Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me
Many people over the years have thought Morrissey was gay. In his own words he is asexual, meaning he feels no sexual feelings toward men or women. He explained this in a post on his fansite True To You: “Unfortunately, I am not homosexual. In technical fact, I am humasexual. I am attracted to humans. But, of course … not many”.
It’s one of the more forgotten and misunderstood forms of sexuality that is disregarded by many. That’s why this song is regarded as the perfect example of a song about the solitary life of an asexual person; away from the noise and all alone. They hope one day someone would understand, but it’s “just another false alarm”.