the voice and vision of a new generation
Image credit: Nedda Asfari

St. Vincent: The queer rockstar my generation has been waiting for

June 13, 2018

I was first introduced to the music of Annie Clark, better known as St. Vincent, when I was in high school. My friends and I were hanging out in homeroom when someone began playing her new single, “Digital Witness.” When she sang the seductive line “I want all of your mind/Gimme all of your mind,” I was hooked. I went home that afternoon and laid on my bedroom floor, headphones placed firmly atop my head, and began to immerse myself in the world of St. Vincent.

As I found out more about St. Vincent, I realized we had many things in common: She was a Southern girl like me, born in Oklahoma and raised in Dallas, Texas; her dark hair curly and untamable; and, like me, she had an affinity for the classics—David Bowie, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix.

Her music, similar to the poetry I enjoyed writing, ranged from mellow and soothing to thunderous and energizing. With all these similarities, I found myself wondering if we had something else in common: Was she queer? I desperately hoped so, as I had been searching for someone who identified the same way I did.

I went on a queer mission to scour the internet for traces of ex-girlfriends, declaritive statements, anything rainbow near or around her... but I couldn't find anything. But then the gods blessed me with a gift: In mid-2014, St. Vincent was asked about her sexual orientation in an interview with  Rolling Stone. She stated that she didn’t “identify as anything,” rather she believed that gender and sexuality are fluid and that “you can fall in love with anybody.” I was overjoyed and deeply respected her decision not to label herself. After that interview, I began listening to her music, specifically songs like “Chloe in the Afternoon,” in a whole new light. With such a simple response, St. Vincent had sent my queer, music-loving heart into a frenzy.

Since that day, my relationship with St. Vincent has transformed. I went from simply enjoying her music to admiring her as a musician and person. The more I learn about her, the more I grow to love her. St. Vincent brings queer visibility to the forefront of her art in songs such as “Prince Johnny”, a hypnotic piece which alludes to a queer and/or trans protagonist, and “Savior”, a kink-laced hit full of sexual innuendo and good fun.

Alongside her music, St. Vincent also speaks publicly about her mental health. While touring with her self-titled hit album, St. Vincent, she fought to keep up. In 2017, St. Vincent disclosed during the Digital Witness tour she was “trying to keep her sanity” and began taking medication for anxiety and depression. In her transparency, St. Vincent normalized taking anxiety medication and antidepressants.

I stan St. Vincent for many reasons: Her music fills me with an energy unmatched by anything else, and her queer identity—labels or no labels—makes me feel as though I have a true representative in the world. Her openness about her mental health struggles has shown me that it’s okay not to be okay.

St. Vincent has given me and many other queer folks the ability to be proud of who we are because she puts music to experiences and identities that deviate from the norm. I am now and forever a proud believer in St. Vincent. Her queerness, whether it be through her music or her expression, gives me hope that there is a bright future for queer people in the music industry and everywhere else.

#WeStan is an amp original series honoring LGBTQ legends in media because we know that representation matters. Follow along on GLAAD social mediaFacebook, Instagram, Twitterto see who our fans stan!

Leigh Fresina is a GLAAD Campus Ambassador and rising junior at Louisiana State University studying sociology and LGBTQ studies. She is the Vice President of Admin for LSU's LGBT+ student organization, Spectrum.

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