By Jessica Bailey

It’s fucking Friday and I don’t want to bitch about anything. I want to express for once how exciting it is to live in the time that we do. How fucking cool it is that Spotify exists and we have quick access to so much music at once? How fucking cool is it independent artists can get their music out there faster and easier than ever? Digital music has given us all a chance to consume music faster. It’s ultimately pushed mainstream music to the experimental. Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, and Kanye West consistently dominate the charts by shape-shifting within the genre. Mainstream artists finally have more creative control over their image, and things have gotten a lot more interesting as a result. Nicki Minaj sings about her appreciation of the female body, Lady Gaga has an open sexuality, and Katy Perry kissed a girl and liked it. Queer culture is finally being recognized and celebrated in a way that it never has been before and that’s an amazing thing. It means a lot of the hiding is over.

The American public once obsessed over the sexual orientation of stars like David Bowie, Morrissey, and Lou Reed, so the political was always intruding into the personal. People and artists alike could not be allowed the freedom to  exist that they so desired. Bowie himself testified to how difficult the stigma was to overcome, saying in 2002, “America is a very puritanical place, and I think it stood in the way of so much of what I wanted to do.” Now Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange has already been celebrated as the year’s best, and even the hip-hop community has been forced to accept that songs of hurt, love, loss and rejection can sound just as good when sung from one man to another. I’m hopeful for the future of music. I’m hopeful for the future of culture. I’m hopeful the world can finally be opened up a little wider to accept the reality that’s always been there anyway, swept under the rug, locked in closets, shrouded due to ignorance.

If the world continues in this way of acceptance, slowly but surely like always, eventually terms like gay, straight, bisexual and queer won’t even need to exist. There will be a collective understanding that we are all whatever we are, whatever we are going to be in the moment, and that’s OK. Be who you are, whomever that looks like in all its beautiful complexity, because the future of creativity depends on it. And you will be loved, you will be accepted, and you will be praised for your courage by anyone and everyone who is worth a damn.

  • Dave

    Ya’ll should read some Lee Edelman – “No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive”

  • Tyler

    Dear Kat Smith: I love you.

  • Ben

    spotify and queers ftw

  • http://www.facebook.com/tom.charles.94 Tom Charles

    I’m not so certain queer sexuality is quite as celebrated in the mainstream right now as you think. Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj, and Lady Gaga, as you said, have all written sexually deviant lyrics, but notice they’re all women. Of course the American public is going to support a song in which gorgeous Katy Perry is singing about a potentially lesbian encounter: it lets our mind wander and we’re pigs. Jill Sobule was singing about the same thing nearly twenty years ago (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FdwUGwasck); it’s nothing new for songs with lesbian undertones to get radio airplay.

    The phenomena they call “Frank Ocean” is truly a wonderful exception to the norm, but so far it is just that: an exception. It’s wonderful that Channel Orange is so highly lauded, but Ocean’s sexuality still comes into the conversation half the time people talk about him, so clearly the public still “obsesses” over his sexual orientation as much as they did for other sexually deviant music icons of the past. As a society, we may have proven ourselves to be less judgmental this time around (which is wonderful!), but we’re far from TRULY accepting of his lifestyle. Right now, Ocean seems to be a lot like the gay friend you have to prove your not homophobic. So much of Ocean’s identity as a musician is still tied to his sexual ambiguity, but until we stop caring how he chooses to identify, then we still have a long way to go.

    We’re making progress though 🙂

    • http://www.facebook.com/tom.charles.94 Tom Charles

      Not to mention the fact that Channel Orange is simply fantastic. The best of the best musicians have historically been praised regardless of their sexual identity: Aaron Copland, Walter/Wendy Carlos, Elton John, Freddie Mercury, etc. Wait until someone like Mykki Blanco is on the radio and then you’ll have me sold. He’s a skilled musician, but he doesn’t stand out as being worlds better than his contemporaries, and because of this his mulch-gendered identity will likely stifle his career.

      • Kat Smith

        Agreed. The fact that they are all women definitely is a factor. I thought about going into it but I figured talking about the ‘male gaze’ might be a bit too Medusa magazine for 20 watts. 😉

        • http://www.facebook.com/tom.charles.94 Tom Charles

          Hahaha very true. Touche.