(WLW – A term coined by the internet meaning Women loving Woman)
I am relegated to covers.
One of my latest projects was a lesbian fairy tale. It had everything: a princess, the knight she falls in love with, a bigoted cult trying to keep them apart, an old crone that is more than she seems… all of the essentials except for a playlist that I could write to. I set about naming the empty list “RoShi” after my two protagonists, moving it into the correct “character” sub-folder (as you can see, I am very well versed in the art of creating writing mood playlists) and started to build.
I wanted the playlist to be filled with songs by women for women or, at least, by women that could be interpreted as for women (i.e. lack of pronouns, use of ‘you’/’they’/’them’). I ended up completing the playlist after a long and arduous process and out of 16 songs (that’s all I could dig up that matched my criteria and the feel I wanted from the playlist), 10 were covers.
Queer love songs don’t reach the mainstream. Some can make arguments about Troye Sivan, an out, gay artist, yet the song that reached airwaves was the collaboration he had with female artist Alessia Cara, giving off the expectation of heteronormativity.
While it is true that artists such as Halsey and Lauren Jauregui have stirred the water with their coming out and putting out songs with the blatant use of she/her pronouns, those songs don’t make the big time, being celebrated mostly by the LGBTQIA+ community… and the white LGBTQIA+ community at that. WLW artists of color, Hayley Kiyoko for example, don’t get the same recognition, which is doubly disheartening for queer Asian-American women.
Arguments can be made about the logistics between each person’s record label and the branding of each artist, but taking these into account only adds more evidence that wlw of color having even less air time than white wlw. Similar to how the majority of TV shows and movies feature a white lead, the music that finds popularity often has white artists attached to them. This becomes even more prominent if the criteria is narrowed down to love songs.
Coupled with a toxic belief spanning media that LGBTQIA+ content doesn’t sell or is too controversial, wlw of color have little to no chance of reaching audiences that may benefit from their music. A lot of credit can be given to social media sites focused on fan-bases such as tumblr, which usually brings to light things overlooked.
Of course, there is still a long way to go, and to help get there, here’s a list of black, queer women artists included in the list to maybe give a listen to and support.
Also check out Hayley Kiyoko and Mitski, two queer Asian American artists on YouTube!
Anonymous is an English Major at SCSU. They are an avid feminist and a passionate writer who loves coffee, cats and snapback hats.