For a long time, finding representation as a queer female anywhere was an extremely difficult task, and the music industry was no exception. Aside from the only half-serious I Kissed a Girl and the dramatic ‘are they really though?’ of t.A.T.u – it truly was slim pickings in mainstream pop.

So, to enter a new era where queer women are finally starting to get recognition in pop music is exciting. And we have albums like Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer and Hayley Kiyoko’s Expectations to thank for it.

It might be a big statement to say that Hayley Kiyoko is one of the most important women in music right now, but it isn’t one that I think is false.

Standing in the crowd of Hayley Kiyoko’s Berlin show on November 5th was the most surrounded by love and equality I have felt since I stood at her sold out Manchester concert a few weeks earlier.

While Hayley might not be first artist to write about being a girl who likes girls, there is something about the way that she does it that sets her apart from the rest.

Hayley tells the queer love story in a way that anyone who has experienced it can relate to. Songs like Sleepover read like a teen journal. Unrequited love. The friendship that doesn’t really feel like a friendship – but has to stay that way. ‘You wanna be friends forever? I can think of something better. I’m just feeling low, feeling low.’

These are all problems that have been represented in chart topping songs for years, as long as you don’t mind hearing it from the heteronormative point of view. So, to finally hear it from the angle you felt it from is everything for those who have been waiting for it.

And being able to experience these songs live proves that I aren’t the only one who has indeed been waiting for it. The tracks are sung back with such passion, and strength you can feel the gratitude radiating from the crowd.

To hear lyrics like “girls like girls like boys do, nothing new” and “I’m real and I don’t feel like boys” played on the radio or sang by a whole crowd of people provides a feeling of acceptance and just plain affirmation that you aren’t alone in this wild world. Something that before Hayley, was hard to find in the mainstream.

It seems so simple that just hearing someone singing the feelings you’ve felt, or thoughts you’ve thought before (“How many days, how many nights, ‘til you realize he’ll never love you like me?”) can make such a huge difference. And that is because it is just that simple. A simple necessity that queer girls haven’t had access to for quite some time.

What sets Hayley apart from others is her honesty, depth and her relatability. While songs like ‘Girls’ by Rita Ora do have the theme of girls kissing girls, that is where it stops. Just like I Kissed A Girl all those years ago, girls kissing girls is seen as a bit of fun, a drunken laugh in this track.

Hayley Kiyoko’s music discusses girls liking girls in the way that mainstream pop has been singing about straight romance since – well – the beginning of mainstream pop, really. This is all it takes to give anyone growing up feeling different a little peace of mind, even if it is only for the few minutes that the song is playing for.

Giving anyone considering, struggling with, coming to terms with, or even comfortable with their sexuality this kind of visibility is a big change in pop music – and almost certainly a positive one. While it probably shouldn’t have taken this long, it is better late than never right?

Strings of sold out shows through Europe, an encore tour and numerous MTV award nominations prove that Hayley Kiyoko is a welcome bringer of this visibility.

It is no accident that she has been dubbed with the title Lesbian Jesus, she is doing what it was starting to seem like only a miracle could do and bringing us into the spotlight. That is why she is so important to me, and to many others. Let’s hope it is all uphill from here.

Image Credit: Hayley Kiyoko – Instagram

Listen to Expectations below:

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