Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Should the LGBTQ Community Honor Katy Perry?

In early December, Katy Perry was honored by the Trevor Project, an organization that works to prevent LGBTQ suicides.  The Trevor Project gave KP the Trevor Hero Award for “inspiring LGBTQ youth to find their spark through her video 'Firework'” and “increasing visibility and understanding of the LGBTQ community.”

However, many in the LGBTQ community did not believe KP deserved such an award.  In her song “I Kissed A Girl,” she makes clear that she has a boyfriend (and therefore is straight, not gay or bisexual).  This song delegitimizes lesbians by portraying girls kissing girls as a “phase” that straight girls go through, rather than an expression of feelings between lesbian or bi women.  It furthers the idea that two girls kissing is only socially acceptable for straight girls who are “bi-curious” or hoping to get attention from men.  This song does not appear to “increase visibility and understanding of the LGBTQ community.”

Even more offensive is KP’s song “Ur So Gay.”  (Hint: Her inability to spell is not the offensive part.)  In this song, Katy Perry makes fun of an ex-boyfriend by calling him for being too feminine.  The lyrics include “I hope you hang yourself with your H&M scarf/While jacking off listening to Mozart.”  Rather than using legitimate insults on her ex, KP resorts to the default insult of a middle-schooler: “You’re so gay.”  This song is childish and offensive, and certainly does not further the Trevor Project’s goal of reducing LGBTQ suicides.

Despite these two songs, Katy Perry did positively portray gayness in the music video of “Firework.”  A series of clips includes a boy at a party, who crosses the room to kiss another boy.  Based on the lyrics, we can assume that this boy is embracing his true self.  But is this short section in one video enough to negate the damage done by two of her previous songs?  Should Katy Perry be rewarded for doing some good?  Or is honoring her actually hurting the LGBTQ community, by ignoring and normalizing her use of negative, anti-gay stereotypes?

What are your thoughts?  Is Katy Perry a good role model for the LGBTQ community? What about for everyone else?  Post in the comments!
** You may publish anonymous comments as well. All comments are subject toreview and approval from The Alice Drum Women's Center. **

- Lauren Dever


  1. I think we seriously need to look at why Katy Perry is being nominated here... Is she being nominated because she's an advocate who happens to be famous, or because we're trying to make a celebrity into an advocate. To me, the fact that we're scourging through her lyrics to find something worth praising suggests that we're just trying to make a famous person into an advocate.

    Why not find someone whose advocacy work is profound and admirable, and then make them famous for it. It seems to me like that would be a better role model than a pop singer who maybe once wrote a song that almost mentions bicurious relationships, but maybe doesn't, and also maybe denigrates non-masculine men - is this the best we can find?

    -Drew Mitchell

  2. She owes the community an apology. It's quite amazing that she hasn't gotten much backlash about these songs. I can't believe she had the nerve to sing "ur so gay" at a high school. Thank you for writing this, people easily brushed it off and gave her a free pass because she's "cute".

  3. I COMPLETELY AGREE. I CANNOT FIND A POST THAT BETTER EXPLAINS ALL THIS SO WONDERFULLY!!!I wrote something about her too on my blog, too...

  4. She doesn't deserve the award. Anyone that writes lyrics encouraging someone to hang themselves for ANY reason (in this case, because they were gay), should not be encouraged. She should not be endorsed by the community she ends up insulting, no matter how playful or loosely comical the lyrics were intended to be.

    As for her song "I Kissed a Girl," it may have made girls kissing girls more socially acceptable, but not exactly in the way that the LGBTQ community would like. Hate to burst the LGBTQ bubble, but I think it was made more as a sexual fantasy rather than an expression of real emotions felt between two women...

    I agree with Drew, find a real advocate

    - Colin Ely


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