A Visible Preview: Pieces from AU's First LGBTQ+ Publication
The following pieces have been submitted by Visible, AU’s newest student publication that demands Visibility for a global community of repressed LGBTQ+ voices. Their applications for E Board and members are now open along with submission drives for their art and literary sections. We recently had an interview with Roman Habibzai (@romanhabibzai),Visible’s editor in-chief which can be found here.
10 Queer Female Artists You Need to Know
By Tori B. Powell
1. Christine and the Queens
Heloise Letissier, or Christine and the Queens as you might know her, is taking over the French pop scene. Letissier shamelessly writes, sings, produces, and choreographs. The openly pansexual artist performs in both French and English about the lovers who have ever done her wrong over upbeat 80s influenced tempos.
Quote:“For men, with success comes power, admiration, and respect. But when you’re a woman and you succeed, people either question your authorship immediately, or you get accused of being bossy, b****y, or capricious” (The New York Times).
Favorite Song: Doesn’t Matter
2. Ivy Sole
Reigning from Charlotte, North Carolina, Ivy Sole self identifies as queer but does not want it to be the “thesis” of her music. Instead, she would rather her sexuality be just a “detail” of her career as a whole. Sole said she has been aware of her queer identity since middle school but grew up going to church three times a week. Beginning with spoken word poetry, Sole continues to write all of her own music that she began releasing in college when she attended the University of Pennsylvania.
Quote:"I think my mental health often makes me feel despair even when there is light and love around me, but being able to see through the fog of depression and anxiety is something so invaluable to me” (NPR).
Favorite Song: Rollercoaster
Signed to Atlantic Records, Kehlani Parrish, has made it clear that she does not care about what others think of her lifestyle. African American, Native American, Filipino, Mexican, and Spanish, Parrish not only pays homage to her multiple races but to her pansexuality, mental health, and hometown of Oakland, California. Parrish just recently had a baby with her friend, Javie Young, which sparked controversy with people who criticized her for not being “gay enough.”
Quote: “My art mimics my life, so you know I have a girlfriend, and it’s only right that that’s what I make music about and that I’m able to put that out confidently” (MTV).
Favorite song: Honey
Queen Sateen and Exquisite met on OkCupid looking for strictly professional additions to their music. After some time, they later would become two married disco drag queens that are reinventing music in Brooklyn, New York. Identifying themselves as one of the only female and straight male drag queens, they experimented with drag after a winter studying Rupaul and other iconic queens. Many are confused of the married couple’s lives and claim that they only married each other to satisfy Exquisite’s green card. Sateen claims that they are entertained by this confusion.
Quote:“I hope that one day, gender and sexuality will be completely fluid. I hope to see a transgender woman of colour as our President! I hope racists and bigots will become extinct, or at least move to an island and be brutes together” (i-D Vice).
Favorite Song: Take My Picture
Washington D.C. native and American University alumna, Kelela is the queer R&B singer that you need to add to your playlist…like right now. She is a second-generation Ethiopian American who grew up in Maryland and speaks of her identity often through her music. After working extensively on mixtapes, she finally quit her telemarketing career to fully pursue music. This career-switch decision seems to be working out.
Quote: “Living in between being queer, being second generation, being a person of colour and a woman — all of these things cross and overlap and intersect in some tricky-ass ways. I think I’ve always wanted to point to those intersections so that anyone who may be having an alienating or othering experience can feel like we’re in the same boat” (The LGBT Update).
Favorite Song: Onanon
6. Rina Sawayama
Rina Sawayama is not only dismantling traditional Asian beauty expectations through her music, but also through her modeling career as well. Sawayama is signed to Elite Model Management and Anti Agency. She has been featured in campaigns including Versace, Missguided, and MAC. She also has a degree in politics from Cambridge University. Sawayama was born in Niigata, Japan but grew up in London which she says has complicated her identity over time. Sawayama has been incredibly transparent with her bisexuality and anxiety throughout her art.
Quote:“The truth for me is that it’s so great I’m able to identify as queer, but realistically, there’s still a lot of shame—from parents or from past experiences” (Vice).
Favorite Song: Flicker
7. Kim Petras
Kim Petras was one of the youngest to ever undergo gender-affirmation surgery when she was only sixteen but does not want this to be the only thing known about her. Petras is trans but she also wants the world to know that she is just like everyone else. She has remained apolitical on many issues and promotes herself as carefree, jus like her inspiration Katy Perry.
Quote: “I just hate the idea of using my identity as a tool. It made me the person I am and that’s a big part of me, but I think music is about your feelings and your fantasies and it goes deeper than your gender or your sexuality” (Huffpost).
Favorite Song: Tell Me It’s a Nightmare
8. Princess Nokia
Destiny Nicole Frasqueri, or Princess Nokia, is a self-proclaimed loner. She wears her Puerto Rican, sexual fluidity, and Bronx hometown proudly on her sleeve. Frasqueri notes that she oftentimes is outspoken and even says she believes she “overshares” in interviews. Although her energy is playful oftentimes, Frasqueri has also been vocal about losing her mother to AIDS when she was ten years old. She grew up in foster care where her foster mother was physically and emotionally abusive to her over the course of her life. Without those experiences, she says, she would not be the same Princess Nokia that we all know and love.
Quote: “When I was young, all I wanted was to have a show where young girls could mosh together and hold hands and take off their bras and just be so liberated on some real punk-rock s**t. I want girls to feel free; I want them to feel like they’re empowered, liberated feminists” (NME).
Favorite Song: Young Girls
9. Tiffany Gouché
Reigning form Inglewood, California in a strict Christian household, Tiffany Gouché grew up listening and singing Gospel music. Her unique sound of chillhop derived beats serves as the mixture of genres that revitalizes the image of what women in R&B are to sound like. In the past, she hass worked with artists such as Ty Dolla Sign, Solange, Anderson Paak, Jill Scott, Lauryn Hill, Missy Elliot, Pussycat Dolls, etc, but has decidedly been under the radar.
Quote:“I was the black sheep of the family, so I had to accept my identity as well, and how I express myself. I believe you can't be your vulnerable self unless you truly understand who you are as a person. Just a full acceptance of who I am as a person and my sound” (Billboard).
Favorite Song: Fantasy
10. Tommy Genesis
Genesis Yasmine Mohanraj, or Tommy Genesis, considers herself a “fetish rapper.” Most of her songs focus on sexuality but Mohanraj has made it clear that society would not be so focused on this aspect of herself if she were male. She openly sings of both men and women, which many have said make the Tamil and Swedish singer a target for the male gaze. She was recruited by Calvin Klein and has received modeling recognition from British model Alexa Chung, and Italian blogger Chiara Ferragni.
Quote: “I definitely went in and out of being comfortable with who I was as a person. I’m one of those kids who had phases. I wouldn’t even really say I’m comfortable with who I am now. I think it’s ok in admitting that you’re still growing” (Clash Music).
Favorite Song: Bad Boy
‘Life Partners’ Movie Review
By Tori B. Powell
Directed by Susanna Fogel, the 2014 romantic-comedy “Life Partners” is the fantasy of queer Gossip Girl fans worldwide. Leighton Meester, or Blair Waldorf as you might know her from Gossip Girl, plays a lesbian named Paige who’s life is completely falling apart. She is not only struggling financially with her music career, but romantically as well. After her straight best friend Paige starts dating Tim, Sasha’s social life begins to deteriorate. Throughout the movie, the two friends drift apart as Sasha begins to question Paige’s loyalty to the friendship with her new boyfriend and they fight through jealous fits of rage. At the end of the movie, Sasha and Paige come to terms that life changes, and the girls come back together as best friends, recognizing their growth.
The reason as to why I like this movie so much is because although Meester’s character is a lesbian woman, the plot doesn’t focus on sexuality. Although the coming out process, romance, and identity are incredibly important to be represented in film for the queer community, they aren’t completely representative of the issues that it’s members face.
In “Life Partners”, Sasha is far past the “coming out” stage. She proudly displays and talks of her sexuality as a component of her identity rather than the only descriptive factor of who she is. Along with being gay Sasha also was funny, passionate, and sarcastic. She was a rounded out 3D character with growth and development that we rarely see with gay characters in film.
Another thing that this movie does well is appeal to authenticity through skillful writing and acting . It isn’t often that we come across movies that don’t quite feel like movies. The two friends, Paige and Sasha, bond over TV shows like America’s Next Top Model, drink wine, and laugh at stupid things as many of us do as well. However, the script and acting also recognize that female friendships aren’t always giggly and cute. Sometimes they’re sarcastic, sometimes they’re irritable, and sometimes they’re jealous. However, at the end of the day it’s clear that these two characters platonically have a lot of love for each other which is important to see.
Although Sasha is a lesbian and is jealous of her best friend’s new boyfriend/fiancee, her relationship with Paige remains platonic which I appreciate as well. I can’t lie, it would be very exciting to have seen a plot twist where Paige leaves Tim and Sasha and her get married, but I also think that that’s unrealistic. I appreciate the prioritization and plot fixation on friendship because we oftentimes don’t see that.
Unfortunately the box office didn’t appreciate “Life Partners” as much as I did. The ending is abrupt and at times the plot seems scattered but those reasons are the very reasons as to why I love this movie so much. Life is abrupt and life is scattered. It doesn’t make sense at some times and things can occasionally pop up. However, “Life Partners” only received $8,265 in profit according to boxofficemojo.com. It has a 66% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and has seemed to be lost within the Netflix vortex. Critics of The Guardian, said “as executed, I’m sorry to report, this movie borders on insufferable”.
So take it upon yourself to decide whether or not you recognize the genius writing, skillful casting, authentic plot, and colorful cinematography. Whatever you might be doing at the moment, I think it’s definitely worth fitting “Life Partners” in. You’ll inevitably find something to relate to no matter what you identify as.