Gayish: Katy Perry and kissing girls (or others)
Gayish on GLUE: Two homosexuals, unpacking queer stereotypes one at a time.
Pop icon and American Idol judge Katy Perry has been under public scrutiny ever since the smash hit #1 single “I Kiss a Girl” graced the airwaves globally.
Not unlike TV show “Will & Grace,” the song was both praised for raising awareness of LGBTQ+ issues, and criticized for relying on some tired stereotypes.
Nearly a decade after the song, Katy Perry came out about her bisexuality. Or, is it sexual fluidity? Or…. wait, what is Katy Perry’s orientation?
After her speech at the 2017 HRC Gala, media outlets like ABC, CBS, InTouch Weekly, The Economic Times, and Grazia made varying reports, some indicating she was bisexual, others using the term sexually fluid.
They included attention-getting headlines like “Katy Perry makes a confession about her sexuality” and “Katy Perry opens up about her sexuality.”
But what did she really say?
There are several quotes hinting at her sexuality that the press drew conclusions from. When she mentions her song “I Kissed a Girl,” she adds that, “I did more than that.” She says, “I was curious” and that, “even then, I knew sexuality wasn’t as black and white as this dress.” She discusses her religious upbringing, saying she “prayed the gay away at my Jesus camps.”
But none of these are as definitive as news reports would suggest.
Straight people should be allowed to experiment—and discuss their past experimentation—and still come out the other side realizing that they’re straight. Or pan. Or, frankly, whatever the hell feels authentic to THEM.
Admitting to kissing girls (or any people), or even doing more than that, doesn’t make you a lesbian (or bisexual, pan or sexually fluid) by default. Unless that’s what you feel is true to you.
Since that speech, she hasn’t clarified much more.
In a 2021 interview with Out Magazine, she said, ”I came from a very sheltered upbringing where it wasn’t okay to be friends with anyone from that community. And now that is my community.”
Perhaps she’s saying she’s part of the LGBTQ herself. Or perhaps she’s acknowledging the LGBTQ fans and friends she surrounds herself with.
While we may not know exactly what Katy Perry’s sexual orientation is, she’s not alone in her nebulous connection to the LGBTQ community.
In a 2009 interview with Barbara Walters, Gaga came out as bisexual, revealing her attraction to women inspired hit song Poker Face.
“I do like women. I’ve only been in love with men, I’ve never been in love with a woman”,
“That’s really what the song [‘Poker Face’] was all about. Why when I was with my boyfriend was I fantasising about women?” she said, shortly after then confirming that she has had “sexual relationships with women”.
After that, Gaga was plagued with the kind of hideous erasure that bisexual and pansexual folk regularly. All while continuing to be a committed and proud ally.
In 2013, she addressed her identity once again: “I am bisexual, I’ve said it before I’ll say it again, I don’t need to – I’m sorry if this is a bit vulgar – I don’t need to eat p*ssy in front of people for the whole world to take me seriously.”
In 2017, during a rally for the victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre, LG delivered a powerful proclamation to LGBTs mourning the tragedy, where she said: “I hope you know that myself and so many are your allies”
Later, in a 2019 speech, she said, “I know I may not be considered part of this community even though I like girls sometimes.”
Then, in 2021, while promoting House of Gucci, Gaga said she does not represent or “speak” on behalf of the community.
When asked about the need for greater LGBTQ+ representation in movies, she said:
“I feel that it is right and true to say this: I am a supporter of the LGBTQ+ community but I do not speak for them. They do not need me to speak for them.”
“I am here to cheer on radical love and a radical joy that I had the privilege of witnessing since I was a very young girl. And without the LGBTQ+ community, I would not be who I am,” she said.
“What I will say is, I’m not here to represent that community because they do not need me to. But I am here to always speak out about what is right and true for all of humanity. That people be loved,” Gaga elaborated. “That oppression and hatred be a thing of the past. But that requires all of us, and also to know our place.”
This year during Pride, Kesha opened up about her sexuality in an Instagram post by saying, “I’m not gay. I’m not straight. I don’t know what I am. I love people.”
As bi.org reports: “It’s common for bi celebs to publicly claim the ‘ally’ label to publicly avoid biphobia or, if they’re not out, due to their own internalized biphobia.”
In fact, according to Pew Research, only 19% of bisexual people are out to all or most of the important people in their lives (vs. a whopping 75% of gays and lesbians).
Unfortunately, many bi+ people face “double discrimination,” discrimination from both outside and within the LGBTQ community.
Like all of us, Katy Perry should be given the space to say as much—or as little—as she wants about her sexual orientation.
What isn’t up for debate is that our community needs to validate and support all identities in the bi+ spectrum, so that whoever lands there knows they are welcome with open arms.
So go ahead. Kiss (or more) a girl. If you like it, we’ll support it.
To hear more about Katy Perry, including her first religious album, what she’s said about the stereotypes in “I Kissed a Girl,” and whether she’s gay icon status, listen to the latest episode of Gayishon Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app.
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Is Katy Perry a gay icon? What has she actually said about her sexual orientation? Is her apology for “I Kissed a Girl” too little too late?
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