In 2018, Hayley Kiyoko claimed her status as a gay icon. With steamy sapphic videos like “Curious” and “What I Need,” her debut studio album, Expectations was a win for gay girls everywhere. The OUT100 honoree was even dubbed “Lesbian Jesus” by the social media masses.
But we almost didn’t have the gay icon that is Kiyoko. In an interview with i-D, the artist recalled being asked to “tone down” her sexuality early on in her career.
“‘Girls Like Girls’ was too violent and too sexual for a lot of people to premiere,” Kiyoko said. “When you’re in the LGBTQ community and you’re open about your sexuality, it’s not common for you to hear your music played on the radio. It’s more common to be underground and left-of-centre with a selective core that listens to that music. That’s why this is an exciting time to really break those barriers of... I wouldn’t say judgement, but to break out of that box.”
Luckily for us, Kiyoko stuck with her gut and embraced her sexuality, which not only elevated her career but made her an outspoken voice for the LGBTQ+ community. And the video for “Girls Like Girls” that was once deemed too sexual has since reached 100 million views on YouTube.
“My sexuality, loving myself, and expressing my love for others is not something that’s negotiable,” she added. “There’s no toning that down because this is who I am and this is what I experience. I can’t change that.”