Politics & Culture

Hayley Kiyoko Isn't Here for Your Heteronormative Romance Narrative

by Abraham Martinez
"Taylor Swift sings about men in every single song and video, and no one complains that she’s unoriginal.’”

Madonna once said, "Music makes the people come together," which is true despite our many differences. Some of history's greatest songs are those that speak to shared emotions and experiences. We all at one point have experienced grief, happiness, and of course, love. Like many who came before her, 27-year-old singer Hayley Kiyoko's music often focuses on the latter.

Kiyoko, who proudly identifies as LGBTQ, has long written songs about same-sex love interests, like the synth-pop masterpiece "Curious" and "Girls Like Girls." Her music videos reflect these narratives as well, a stellar example of queer representation in media.

But unlike some of her contemporaries, Kiyoko is far from queer-baiting. She's just living her truth. In a recent interview with Refinery29, the singer stated "I’m not over-sexualizing my music. I make out with women because I love women, not because I’m trying to be sexy. That’s not to turn heads — that’s my life.” 

The interview then took a turn when the singer expressed her frustration at the music industry, where executives steadfastly try to categorize (and simultaneously limit) her for singing about women. “I’ve had several music industry execs say, ‘You’re doing another music video about girls?’"

Which then led to a Taylor Swift mention: “I literally looked at them and was like, ‘Um, yeah ... Taylor Swift sings about men in every single song and video, and no one complains that she’s unoriginal.'"

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Kiyoko's comment prompted a quick backlash from Taylor's army of loyal fans (known as Swifties) who took to Tumblr to defend their queen, overanalyzing (and calling shade on) Kiyoko's comment.

Swift, however, wasn't so quick to judge, seeing it for what it was. “We should applaud artists who are brave enough to tell their honest romantic narrative through their art, and the fact is that I’ve never encountered homophobia and she has,” she wrote. “It’s her right to call out anyone who has double standards about gay vs. straight love interests.”  

Naturally, Swift can sympathize. considering she has been constantly ridiculed for referencing her past relationships with men, while other male artists receive praise and accolades for doing the same thing. Kiyoko quickly acknowledged Swift's defense. ″[Love] and respect to @taylorswift13 and all the brave artists out there sharing their truth with the world,” she wrote in a tweet. “I appreciate you. We keep climbing.”

That they will do. Evidently, sexism and homophobia are still alive and well, people, which is why it's more important now than ever to continue to support these women who are actively trying to combat them. The fight continues. 

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