My Big Gay Playlist 

Author: Elizabeth Gatten

I came out as bisexual in 2018 after many years of confusion, frustration, and self-hate. There are a lot of damaging notions out there about bisexuality — that it isn’t real, but just a pitstop to “gay town”; that bisexual people are promiscuous; that being bi makes you less part of the LGBTQ+ community than others. I bought into some of those stereotypes when I was younger, which delayed my acceptance of myself. Now, however, I am an out and proud member of the LGBTQ+ community! In honor of my queer brothers and sisters (and friends beyond the gender binary), I have created this Super Gay™ playlist. It features artists who identify in some way as members of the LGBTQ+ community. Some of the songs speak to the artist’s experiences as a queer person, while others are just bops that happen to be written by queer folks!  

1. Tegan & Sara — “Closer”  

I wanted to start off with one of my old standbys — it is honestly amazing that I didn’t realize I was queer sooner considering how long I have been obsessed with Tegan and Sara. The Canadian musical duo are identical twins; both of the sisters are openly gay. Their genre is “indie-pop.”

I love “Closer” because it reminds me of the feeling you get when you have a crush and you start to realize they might also have a crush on you too. It perfectly captures that butterflies-in-your-stomach sensation:  

“All I want to get is a little bit closer Couple

All I want to know is 

Can you come a little closer? 

Here comes the breath before we get 

A little bit closer 

Here comes the rush before we touch 

Come a little closer.” 

The music video captures this nostalgic feeling by featuring high schoolers at a party playing spin the bottle, dancing, hiding out in blanket forts, and kissing on top of cars. Plus, the song has an incredible beat to jump up and down to while singing into your hairbrush.  

 

2. Hayley Kiyoko — “Girls Like Girls”   

When I first discovered Hayley Kiyoko, I knew she looked familiar. After some digging, I realized I recognized her from a brief stint she had on the Disney channel show, Wizards of Waverly Place. Kiyoko has definitely come a long way from her Disney Channel days — she is now known as “Lesbian Jesus” amongst her fans. Her music is aimed at normalizing homosexual relationships in our heteronormative society. For example, “Girls Like GIrls” features the lyrics: 

“Saw your face, heard your name, gotta get with you.  

Girls like girls like boys do,  

Nothing new.”  

Kiyoko also seeks to control the narrative of what it means to be a lesbian in a world that often fetishizes women loving women.

I encourage you to check out more of Hayley Kiyoko’s music, which discusses not only her own experiences but also various issues faced by LGBTQ+ individuals.  

 3. iLoveMakonnen — “Tuesday” 

This song takes me back to my college party days. “Tuesday”, released in 2014, was a staple on any party playlist. In 2017, the singer announced he is gay via Twitter: “As a fashion icon, I can’t tell u about everybody else’s closet, I can only tell u about mine, and it’s time I’ve come out.”

 

4. Le1f — “Wut”  

Le1f (pronounced “leaf”) is perhaps the most successful openly gay rapper out there. Raised in New York City, the artist began exploring the world of underground dance-music as a teen and spent years after working on his craft. In 2012, Le1f released “Wut” on the website, WorldStarHipHop. Rocking booty shorts and perching on an oiled-up man, Leif showed the world in “Wut” that he has no intentions of being anything other than unapologetically himself. I personally can’t get enough of it!  

 

5. St. Vincent — “Los Ageless”  

I’ll admit, I first heard of St. Vincent when she was dating supermodel, Cara Delevigne. However, after looking into her music, I discovered St. Vincent is iconic…plain and simple. She has shapeshifted through multiple genres with ease — rock, pop art, indie rock. As a queer woman in a field dominated by men, she has no qualms about disrupting the system. And why should she? She is one of the most talented lyricists and musicians out there.  

“Los Ageless” is a perfect example of just how otherworldly St. Vincent is. The lyrics and video, first set to a new wave disco beat, poke fun at the fear of growing old in Los Angeles. As the song progresses, it somehow seamlessly ramps up to a raw, emotional climax with the repeated lament of “How can anybody have you? How can anybody have you and lose you? How can anybody have you and lose you and not lose their minds, too?”  

 

6. Tom Goss — “Son of a Preacher Man”  

Two time winner of The Washington Blade’s award for Best Gay Musician, Tom Goss isn’t afraid to flip traditional masculine concepts on their heads. For example, his song “Lover” explores the experience of partners of gay servicemembers. Another touching piece from Goss is his cover of the Dusty Springfield song, “Son of a Preacher Man.” In Goss’s version, the implications are much different than the original — the video opens with a preacher condemning homosexuality. This spin gives the original lyrics “bein’ good isn’t always easy, no matter how hard I try” a much deeper meaning. Goss’s take on this classic song is equal parts beautiful and heartbreaking. However, be warned that the video features violence and suicidality. 

 

7. Tyler Glenn — “Shameless”  

You might know Tyler Glenn from his former days as the frontman for Neon Trees. In 2014, the singer finally came out after nearly a lifetime of suffering in the closet. Glenn comes from Utah and was raised Mormon. The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints condemns same-sex relationships. In turn, Glenn (who at first tried to continue as a practicing Mormon after coming out) has now condemned the Church’s views. In “Shameless”, Glenn demonstrates radical self-acceptance, with lyrics such as:  

“Why not take me now as I am? 

Why not take me now like a man? 

You hate what you don’t understand 

I live a life so shameless 

Oh no, I don’t give a damn.”  

The pop-rock song features Glenn wearing a mesh top, shiny silver pants, and eyeliner. He sings to a tied up, masked figure that is meant to represent the founder of Mormonism. He dances around with “[full-bodied], hairy dudes.” The song is not only a message to the Mormon church but to everyone, including the gay community, that Glenn intends to “do it in [his] own way.” Denouncing the Grindr culture of “no fars, no femmes”, Glenn told an interviewer for Billboard: “I wanted the video to represent me authentically. I’ve never felt like I fit into any group and know there are other people that feel the same way. There isn’t just a stereotypical one-way, even in the gay community.”  

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8. Orville Peck — “Dead of Night”  

Described in the comments to his “Dead of Night” music video as “like Quentin Tarantino kissed Roy Orbison with a mouthful of whiskey,” Orville Peck isn’t afraid to push the envelope of country music. Orville dresses like the Lone Ranger with one fun twist– his mask is totally decked out in fringe! The singer, who identifies as gay, is a New Yorker in his early 30s.  

 

9. Lil Nas X — “Old Town Road”  

If I’m going to talk about new-age cowboys, I would be remiss to leave out Lil Nas X. The singer became a viral sensation at just 19 years old with his country rap single, “Old Town Road.” At first thwarted by the gatekeepers of the country music industry, Lil Nas X was vindicated when country legend Billy Ray Cyrus stepped in to collaborate with him.  

Raised in a small conservative community outside of Atlanta, Georgia, the singer witnessed a lot of homophobia and believed he would never come out of the closet. Now, however, the singer is out and not afraid to show it! He has had some iconic looks that demonstrate his multifaceted nature. For example, his daring outfit for the 2020 Grammys: a studded, pink leather suit worn overtop a mesh shirt and harness, and accompanied by a matching cowboy hat.  

 

10.  Kehlani — “Honey” 

Like Hayley Kiyoko, Kehlani’s music is doing the good work of bringing same-sex relationships, particularly between women, into mainstream music. Kehlani opens the song, “I like my girls just like I like my honey: sweet.” It’s a matter-of-fact introduction of her sexuality that I appreciate — she’s not making the fact that she likes women into a big deal, because it shouldn’t be one.  

Kehlani had been on the music scene for awhile, and has also been openly queer. However, in releasing “Honey”, Kehlani chose to live her truth not just in her personal life but in her music. I’m thankful to artists like Kehlani and Hayley Kiyoko who recognize that representation matters and  who generate music that young, queer people can relate to. (For an added bonus, check out their collaboration, “What I Need.”

 

11. Hollie Col — “Unholy”  

Traditionally offering up indie-folk songs, Hollie Col traded her usual sound for a more electric one in “Unholy.” Hollie Col is a Sydney, Australia, native and her talents seem boundless — not only is she a talented singer/songwriter, but she also wrote, directed, produced, and starred in all of her music videos. As eloquently stated in an article spotlighting the artist, “Hollie has a knack of getting to the nitty gritty centre of love, life, and heartache….” I couldn’t agree more. In less than five minutes, “Unholy” tells the story of a girl in a strange love triangle with another girl who is in a relationship with a boy. Col described the song as an “upbeat guitar pop anthem for the hopeless romantics that loved too hard and were left on the sidelines.” 

 

12.  GRLwood — “Vaccines Made Me Gay”  

As a Kentucky native, I had to include these “Kentucky Fried Queerdos.” If you were a baby punk rocker who loved to go to clubs and slam dance, then GRLwood would definitely be your jam. The punk duo has “a knack for wielding masculine braggadocio like the blunt, absurd thing that it is” and they aren’t afraid to be subversive, aggressive, or even flat out bizarre. The generous helping of personality being served by the GRLwood pair is matched by their talent. That personality and talent can both be found in “Vaccines Made Me Gay,” a tongue-in-cheek social commentary on the anti-vaxx movement that features smooth guitar riffs and wide-ranging vocals.  

While I would be remiss as a Kentuckian to leave out these two, I would also be remiss as a bisexual woman to not comment on the negative implications of the duo’s song, “Bisexual”, which contributes to the erasure of bisexuality (particularly for bi folks who happen to be in a heterosexual relationship) by other members of the LGBTQ+ community. For more information on this song and why it is troubling, check out this article from the queer news and culture site Into.   

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13.  Cakes Da Killa — “Gon Blo” (feat. Rye Rye)  

Cakes Da Killa, when asked to describe his music in one word, replied, “energetic.” That is certainly true of “Gon Blo” which opens with a refrain of “just pump the beat” that makes you instantly start dancing. In the middle of the song, Cakes demonstrates his skills at spitting rhymes and, let me tell you, it is seriously impressive!  

Like Le1f (who Cakes describes as one of his musical influences), Cakes had been on the scene for a while before his official musical debut of Hedonism in 2016. Cakes chooses not to center his sexuality in his music, and in fact resents the label of being a “gay rapper.” In an interview for the gay news site them., Cakes stated, “It just shows that even in 2019, people still have these little weird hangups with gay people, and also confident gay people. But that’s been my life’s work to just be like, ‘Hey, I’m gay. Shut the fuck up.’” I certainly appreciate him making the point that a person’s sexuality is not the most interesting thing about them, and his goal of normalizing out-and-proud queerness in the music industry without it having to be someone’s schtick.  

 

14. Rina Sawayama — “XS” 

I could’ve sworn I was listening to vintage Britney Spears when I first heard Rina Sawayama’s music. Her songs transport me to my childhood, but they have an added layer that most of those early 2000s hits didn’t have: social commentary. Sawayama explained her inspiration for “XS” (excess): 

“‘XS’ is a song that mocks capitalism in a sinking world. Given that we all know global climate change is accelerating and human extinction is a very real possibility within our lifetime it seemed hilarious to me that brands were still coming out with new makeup palettes every month and public figures were doing a gigantic house tour of their gated property in Calabasas in the same week as doing a ‘sad about Australian wild fires’ Instagram post. I mean I’m guilty of turning a blind eye too, because otherwise it makes me depressed. We’re all hypocrites because we are all capitalists, and it’s a trap that I don’t see us getting out of. I wanted to reflect the chaos of this post-truth climate change denying world in the metal guitar stabs that flare up like an underlying zit between the 2000s R&B beat that reminds you of a time when everything was alright.” 

It’s this type of frankness that makes Sawayama so relatable to her millennial fans. On a personal level, I identify with Sawayama’s struggles with self-acceptance as a bisexual/pansexual person, which she addresses in her song, “Cherry.”

Finally, Sawayama has provided important representation for queer Asians. One YouTube commenter noted on the “Cherry” video, “I think this means an incredible amount to me because [she’s a] Japanese queer icon?? My mum is insanely bigoted and […] Japanese media and society in general is v[ery] unaccepting and I hate it so I needed this.”  

 

15. Mary Lambert — “Secrets” 

Mary Lambert is an angel! At the very least, you are probably familiar with her from “Same Love”, the Macklemore/Ryan Lewis track that featured vocals from her song, “She Keeps Me Warm.” She has been representing queer women so proudly for so long that my repressed teenage self used to change her music because I didn’t like the part of me that identified with it.  

Lambert bares her soul to the world in a way that not a lot of artists do — she “has long been open about trauma, depression, and coping with being bipolar in her spoken word anthems and her songs.” For example, in another of her more popular songs, “Secrets,” Lambert opens with, “I’ve got bipolar disorder, my shit’s not in order, I’m overweight, I’m always late, I’ve got too many things to say.” Her candor is refreshing, as well as her presentation as a feminine lesbian woman in a world that often separates femininity from identifying as a lesbian.  

Returning to her music after coming out, I realized I identify with Lambert’s lyrics even more than I previously realized. In the hook for “Secrets,” Lambert sings: 

“They tell us from the time we’re young 

To hide the things that we don’t like about ourselves 

Inside ourselves 

I know I’m not the only one who spent so long attempting to be someone else 

Well I’m over it.”  

Rehearing those lyrics from one of the artists who helped me begin the process of coming to terms with my sexuality made me emotional. It is true, I spent a long time attempting to be someone else. And, when the time came that I was ready to come out, I felt the same way as Lambert when she breezily sings, “I don’t care if the world knows what my secrets are.”  

ElizabethGatten

Elizabeth Gatten is a rising 3L dedicated to public interest work. She currently serves as the EJW Rural Summer Legal Fellow at Cincinnati Legal Aid. As a bisexual woman, Elizabeth is passionate about championing the LGBTQIA+ community. In her free time, Elizabeth loves baking, and spoiling her pug, cat, and bearded dragon.

Get Out of Jail Free

Guest Contributor: Darceny Winston 

           Imagine playing Monopoly, but each player starts with a different amount of funds. You start the game, buy a property, then land on “Go to Jail”. You move your piece to that space then wait until your next turn to pay the $50 to get out of jail. Unfortunately, you started the game with only $50, which you already spent on your property, so you must sit in jail to figure out how to pay the “get out of jail” fee.  While sitting in jail, you cannot collect any payment from that property and in fact, you must sell your property to make enough money to get out of jail. However, the player who started with $100 and gets sent to jail has no issue leaving the jail quickly. Essentially, this is the inequality of monetary bail.

Freedom Should Not Be a Game of Chance

            Judges set bail to ensure people attend trial and to keep the public safe by keeping violent or repeat offenders in jail. However, when a judge sets a bond too high for a person to meet, that person is restrained in jail until his/her trial.  The people affected by monetary bail are awaiting trial; they have yet to go through a trial and be found guilty of the offense they were charged with. Rather, they are forced to wait in jail for their trial solely because they cannot afford to pay bail, all while they are presumed innocent.

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Source: Chris Potter/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

            Nationally, minorities are more likely to be arrested than white individuals because of over-policing in their communities. For example, once arrested, African Americans, particularly those 18 through 29, receive higher bond fees than white individuals. The higher likelihood of African Americans having contact with the justice system blended with the expectation to pay a higher bail fee results in an inequality of minorities being detained. A 2012 study discovered that the rate of African American individuals detained in jail until trial was almost five times higher than detained white individuals.

            According to a 2015 local news report, 51percent of inmates processed in the Hamilton County Justice Center in 2014 were African American. However, the number of arrestees is twice the amount of the African American population as a whole residing in Hamilton County. This implies that the African American community in Hamilton County is disproportionately affected by the justice system. Because African American individuals are more likely to be arrested and detained, their incarceration results in long term suffering for their families and communities. Incarceration leads to job loss, which leads to income loss, which leads to eviction, and even leads to losing custody of children.

            Cincinnati is making great strides in correcting the inequality of monetary bail. In April 2019, the Cincinnati City Council approved a motion eliminating city prosecutors from requesting monetary bail for non-violent misdemeanor offenders. While this was primarily enacted to eliminate wealth as a factor in determining who is detained in jail, there was also motivation to conserve financial resources as the Ohio Justice and Policy Center discovered that incarcerating one person at the Hamilton County Justice Center costs about $69 per day.

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Source: Fandom

            Before the motion was passed, about 75percent of people arrested were forced to wait for their trial in the Hamilton County Justice Center solely because they could not afford to pay bail. City Council, led by Councilmember P.G. Sittenfeld, shifted from monetary bonds by instructing city prosecutors to seek an “own recognizance” bond that allows individuals accused of non-violent misdemeanor offenses to leave jail before trial without being subjected to a bond fee.

One Man’s Low Bail is Another Man’s High Bail

            The reform effort is not without push-back from the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office. Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters does not believe there is a need for a bail reform effort in the county court system and is “baffled why people continue to argue that bail reform is an issue in Hamilton County.” The Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office agrees that non-violent misdemeanor offenders do not always need to be held before trial and releasing these individuals before trial saves taxpayer money. However, the Prosecutor’s Office has discretion in seeking bonds when necessary, such as to ensure the arrestee attends trial or to protect the community. While the Prosecutor’s Office may only suggest high bonds when it is necessary, the Prosecutor’s Office is assuming the low bonds recommended are, in fact, low. By not taking into account an individual’s socio-economic status, the Prosecutor’s Office recommendation of a $1,000 bond with the requirement that $100 must be paid before leaving is effectively the same as a $100,000 bond with a requirement of a payment of $1,000 for members of low-income communities.

            The Hamilton County Public Defender’s Office realizes it is not enough to require the city prosecutor to release non-violent misdemeanor offenders without imposing monetary bail. Rather, there needs to be a complete bail reform extending to the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office. Since the county is not currently required to release non-violent misdemeanor offenders on their own recognizance, the Public Defender’s Office is urging the judges setting bail to consider not only the likelihood of an arrestee reoffending, but also the individual’s ability to pay when determining the bail amount. If an individual does not have an income or has a low income, requiring him or her to pay any fee in order to be released would constitute excessive bail under the Eighth Amendment. Therefore, the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office should adopt a blanket policy that allows for releasing non-violent misdemeanor offenders.

Goals for the Future

            While Cincinnati as a city is taking steps in improving the bail system to be less centered on a person’s wealth, there are still improvements that can be made in Hamilton County. Leading the way in improving the bail system on a national level is Harris County, Texas. In 2018, Harris County became the first case to question the cash bail system in federal courts. Harris County was using a fee schedule system to set bail based on the charge. A woman filed a lawsuit against Harris County claiming that using a fee schedule in determining her bail amount violated her due process and equal protection rights because this process allowed those who could afford bail to pay and punished those who could not. The court determined the fee schedule was unconstitutional because it discriminated against misdemeanor defendants who could not afford to pay their bail. Harris County is now implementing a policy of automatic release of low-level misdemeanor detainees, as well as providing resources to them while they await their court date, such as reminders of when they must appear in court chance-card-vintage-monopoly-get-out-of-jail-free-design-turnpikeand transportation support services.

The City of Cincinnati is working to make arraignments fair for individuals of all socio-economic backgrounds. However, Hamilton County needs to recognize the inherent discriminatory issues with monetary bail, take a lesson from Harris County, Texas, and allow all non-violent misdemeanor arrestees a “get out of jail free” card, rather than the select few who can afford it.

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Darceny Winston is a 2L at the University of Cincinnati College of Law. She has a passion for criminal defense and is currently a fellow for the Ohio Innocence Project and an executive member of the Criminal Law Society. Though originally from Louisiana, she now resides in Northern Kentucky with her 2 cats.

 

Movie Review of Balancing the Scale

Balancing a Skewed Scale

Nikita Srivastava (’19)

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Women in the Profession: Balancing the Scales

In the 1980s, a young female lawyer and her lawyer husband attended a party hosted by a club only allowing male lawyers. The room was filled with young men celebrating their legal careers.  One of the guests at this party handed the woman a name tag. Instead of writing her name, she wrote “discrimantee” and proudly placed it on her chest.  “Well, it is true,” she said after getting several questions about it. (I should write “discrimantee” on all my name tags because nothing much has really changed)

Sharon Rowen’s Balancing the Scales, addresses discrimination using women’s narratives to guide the audience. Due to Ohio’s CLE requirements, Ms. Rowen had to pause the film and explain why she directed it this way. Rowen said the film is divided into 3 parts: 1) the oral history of female role models, 2) what keeps women from achieving higher positions, 3) women not making choices from a level playing field.

Continue reading “Movie Review of Balancing the Scale”