Irish teenager shares how queer music is revolutionary

As part of the #GCNnewvoices series, we platform the opinions and thoughts of LGBTQ+ young writers from across the country.

An illustration of a teenager listening on headphones, the musical artists appearing in a cloud above their head
Image: Illustration by Clare Foley

GCNnewvoices in partnership with BeLonG To platforms the opinions and thoughts of LGBTQ+ young writers from across the country, speaking about issues that matter to them. Rosa Connolly shares how queer music is revolutionary.

Queer music is revolutionary, it’s a perfect blend of identity, poetry and love. It’s intricate and unique. It’s representation in the best way possible. Whether it’s crashing, distorted guitars or painfully sincere vocals, it’s a beautiful cascade of emotions mixed up with the richness of an incredibly complex identity. 

I’m 15 years old and bisexual. I love music, I’m in love with music. It’s a space where anything goes- from tears to literal guitar smashing. As a queer person it’s a place that understands the impact of representation and the identity crisis that comes with the territory. It can put feelings into words or let the emotions speak for themselves in the melody of it all. 

The first memory I have of finding that part of myself in music was listening to Haley Kiyoko’s ‘Girls Like Girls’. Hearing the line, “Girls like girls like boys do” was pretty revolutionary for a 12 year-old realising that they’re really not ‘normal’. It felt like someone was on my side. It showed me queerness is solidarity. 

The next memory I have of queer music is from the summer I came out to my parents. I would lie on my bedroom floor and play ‘Girls’ by Girl In Red well into the hazy evenings. There may have even been a few tears to the line, “No this is not a phase or a coming of age, this will never change”. It was that rare feeling that someone really gets it. I came out in the car, it was really tricky but now I blast her new album when I’m driving with my Dad. It showed me that queerness is resilience.

I found Arlo Parks just before I started writing poetry. She did this amazingly sincere interview on Jools Holland and I put her album on repeat through all of my online classes the next day. It’s beautiful, reassuring and translates the complications of outside influences on queer relationships perfectly. Lines like, “I had a dream we kissed and it was all amethyst, you do your eyes like Robert Smith” and “you hung a cigarette between your purple lips” helped me discover my love of words. I try to use the same approach of taking bits and pieces to write my poems, things like safety pins in school shoes, song lyrics and moon shaped earrings. She showed me queerness is beautiful. 

Special Interest are badass. They’re an awesome hardcore queer punk band formed in 2015. Think heavy eyeliner, leather and Doc Martens. Their song ‘Street Pulse Beat’ is the kind that fills up any room. It’s rebellious and threatening. It rejects stereotypes and makes for a great song to get ready for school to. It showed me queerness is powerful. 

Queer music is important. It’s an innate part of our community’s identity. It bursts through the boxes we’ve been forced into. It’s a protest, a riot, poetry and passion. It reassures me that queerness is solidarity, resilience, beauty and power.

And all of that through a pair of broken headphones and a 15-minute walk home.

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