“Do you listen to Sweater Weather?”
“Do you listen to Girl in Red?”
What are the meanings of these questions? The former is asking whether someone is bisexual, and the latter is asking if you like girls, as a girl. These songs have become queer anthems and it’s universally known what it’s implying.
But what makes a song queer?
Queer-coded music is songs that are either explicitly about a queer singers’ experience of finding and understanding themselves. Another kind of queer music is songs that have become queer anthems such as “Vogue” by Madonna and “True Colors” by Cindy Lauper.
Girl in Red’s audience has amassed many young people who are either queer women are nonbinary. Her songs are mostly about her struggles with her queer identity. “When I grew up I missed seeing other queer artists”, says Marie Ulven, aka Girl in Red, in an interview.
Queer representation is on a different level than it was just 7 years ago. Most of the chart-topping artists are people who are open about their sexuality: Lil Nas X, Tyler, The Creator, Harry Styles, Demi Lovato, and many more.
While there was a lot of backlash on Lil Nas X’s queer-coded music videos, there was also an outburst of support. He’s likable because of his ability to be down to Earth by interacting with fans on Tik Tok. He dresses extravagantly for all the award shows, sporting outfits from metal armor to a full dress. He has paved the way for queer black men in hip hop.
Picking songs to be a queer anthem was more prevalent before 2015 when gay marriage was officially legalized. Taylor Swift’s song “You Need to Calm Down” became a huge song for the LGBTQ+ community, even though Swift isn’t part of it. Her music video for the single included many LGBT icons such as the cast of Queer Eye, Todrick, Hayley Kiyoko, Ellen Degeneres, Laverne Cox, and more.
Just from the title, it’s pretty obvious why this is a gay anthem. “I’m Coming Out” by Diana Ross was written to appeal to her queer fans. And it managed to do just that. It’s about being proud of who you are and not being afraid of what anyone says.
WHY IS QUEER REPRESENTATION IN MUSIC IMPORTANT?
Music has always had the ability to tune into peoples’ deepest emotions. Artists tell experiences and stories that some people can’t tell with their words. Having actual queer artists describe their experiences is a subject that heteronormative artists can’t accomplish. Artists sharing their authentic journey allows queer people to connect with them in ways they may not be able to connect with their closest friends. It’s important that we continue to give these types of artists platforms because it could make one less queer person feel alone.