I grew up surrounded by heteronormativity, specifically when it came to music. The love songs playing when my mom turned on the radio in our old blue minivan were all between a man and a woman, but I didn’t see a problem in these love stories until I realized these songs did not reflect my identity. I wasn’t exposed to many queer singers until I went into crisis about my own sexuality and was frantically searching for artists that understood what I was going through. While discovering my sexuality junior year of high school, I didn’t have many queer people in my life I could turn to for support; therefore, I turned to music. As I’ve explored my sexuality over the past few years, I picked up artists along the way that have taught me to embrace my identity.
Phoebe Bridgers’ music came into my life as I transitioned back to school after realizing I was queer. While her lyrics are not as explicitly queer as other artists, her openness about her sexuality in the media provided support as I was navigating this confusing part of my life. Before getting into Bridgers’ music, I never had an artist in whom I could see my identity. Accepting that I was queer was a frightening period of my life; however, finally having a queer figure who expressed her sexuality helped me see the positive aspects of this transitional time.
Recommended Listening: “Graceland Too”
Snail Mail, also known as Lindsey Jordan, has easily become one of the most significant artists in my life. Jordan’s sophomore album, Valentine, embodies her sexuality even more than her earlier work, with her lyrics explicitly referencing both the beauty and pain in queer love. Over the course of her EPs and albums, her listeners can follow along as she becomes more open about her identity. Valentine ranks as one of the most meaningful albums of my 2021. Similar to Jordan, I have come to further embrace my sexuality since originally listening to her debut album, Lush.
Recommended Listening: “Automate”
Lucy Dacus is admired for the storytelling expertise that she infuses into her work. In her most recent album, Home Video, Dacus, raised Christian, specifically addresses the struggles of navigating sexuality while surrounded by religion. Several of her songs illustrate adolescent experiences that resonate with many of her queer listeners. Dacus’ 2022 single, “Kissing Lessons,” explores the questions about sexual identity that start arising even as a child. When I had my first girl crush experience in eighth grade — which I did not come to terms with until recently — I went through the typically closeted mentality of telling myself that I would like her if she were a boy. Similar to “Kissing Lessons,” I didn’t understand that I could have these feelings for someone without fictionalizing them for a heteronormative society. Dacus’ listeners find support and similarities while listening to her recount moments from her childhood.
Recommended Listening: “Triple Dog Dare”
Indigo De Souza
When it comes to production, Indigo de Souza understands how to portray emotion through her musical sound. I consider her songs to be my go-to screaming songs, suitable for many emotions I’m currently feeling. I began listening to De Souza around a year ago, and she has quickly become one of my top-played artists. De Souza celebrates the ups and downs of queer love through her lyricism and creates songs that can resonate with almost anyone. Many of her songs, such as “Hold U,” describe finding comfort within your identity from a community, as De Souza did after moving during her teenage years. Over the years, I’ve learned the importance of staying by communities that affirm who you are and allow you to express your identity to the fullest.
Recommended Listening: “Way Out”