How Hayley Kiyoko is revolutionizing pop music

Unapologetically herself, Kiyoko has become the LGBTQ popstar the industry needs, proving why representation matters through her music.


Dubbing herself “lesbian Jesus,” Hayley Kiyoko has made a significant impact on not only her fans but also the queer community. With the pop norm typically being straight women raving about their past, current and future male loves, Kiyoko is paving the way for a new norm—girls liking girls.

We’ve seen more representation of queer love interests over the past few years in cinema, music, and television shows, but there’s still a long way to go. With someone like Kiyoko leading the movement, whose popularity stems from early film appearances (especially the Disney Channel classic ‘Lemonade Mouth’), it can only go up from here.

Kiyoko’s strong voice within the community became more apparent when she released her single ‘Girls Like Girls’ back in 2015. The song was accompanied by a visual that was rather eye-opening, featuring female love interests going through the motions and discovering their sexualities.

The comments and support for the video were overwhelmingly positive, forcing us to remember that representation among the LGBTQ community is crucial. Kiyoko’s ability to curate a comfortable place for others to express themselves and their identities is powerful.

The musician sticks to her guns in her debut album ‘Expectations’—which just dropped on March 30—by continuing to center her music and art around women.

“I’ve had several music industry execs say, ‘You’re doing another music video about girls?’ I literally looked at them and was like, ‘Um, yea…Taylor Swift sings about men in every single song and video, and no one complains that she’s unoriginal,'” she says. “I’m not over-sexualizing my music. I make out with women because I love women, not because I’m trying to be sexy. That’s not to turn heads—that’s my life.”

Songs like ‘Curious,’ ‘Feelings‘ and ‘Sleepover‘ all focus on the idea of love and relationships. Where we typically see a man at the center of physical attraction, it’s a woman—and to be honest, it’s refreshing. Kiyoko’s approach to normalizing the reality of queer women is fearless.

Kiyoko is helping to develop a brand new norm. She voices her sensitivity to revealing herself publicly when she first stepped out onto the scene, saying, “I was very gentle at first about using labels and being vocal about being in the community because I just wanted to be respected as an artist. Then I realized that sometimes, to change things and to challenge stereotypes and break boundaries, you have to own a label.”

The artist’s bravery alone can hopefully hold the hands of fans who see themselves in her. The most important detail about Kiyoko is not only her versatility and courageousness she has cultivated all on her own but the undeniable confidence she’s built up to show off her identity to the world.

Listen to Hayley Kiyoko’s debut album ‘Expectations’ on Spotify.

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