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The Rise of Chappell Roan and The Importance of Queer Media

It may just be my corner of the internet, but ever since Chappell Roan released her new song “Good Luck, Babe!” on April 5th, my feed has been flooded with the song. I first became familiar with Chappell Roan in 2020 when she released “Pink Pony Club,” but I didn’t become a serious fan of hers until the release of her 2023 album, The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess. Originally Kayleigh Rose Amstutz from a religious community in Willard, Missouri, Chappell Roan is her drag name and stage persona. Described as “L.A.’s queer pop superstar in the making,” Roan’s music and her story heavily centers on sexual liberation and the unapologetic acceptance of her queerness. 

According to Genius, “Good Luck, Babe!” is about Roan looking back on “a secret relationship with a woman from her past and the struggle with compulsory heterosexuality that ultimately broke them up.” Roan sympathizes with her partner’s reluctance to accept her sexuality and live freely but ultimately gives her very important advice and well wishes, saying, “Good luck, babe…you’d have to stop the world just to stop the feeling.” She performed her songs, new and old, at Coachella this past weekend. Her iconic drag-inspired outfits, energetic performance, and powerful voice have captured audiences everywhere, causing the videos of her performances to go viral. 

There are nearly 3,000 posts on TikTok with the “Good Luck, Babe!” sound, most of which are videos of queer people appreciating the song for its reliability. Iconic queer artists have also expressed their appreciation for this song on Tiktok, such as Girl in Red, King Princess, and lead singer of MUNA, Katie Gavin. Girl in Red, in particular, described her feelings about Roan’s new song, saying, “This song brings me back to my coming out experience and how I was struggling so much and I was trying so hard to fight it until I eventually couldn't.” 

The strong audience reaction to this song truly showcases the importance of queer representation in the media. Recently, one of my straight friends asked me why I continue to rewatch queer movies, tv shows, and music videos since I’ve already seen them. I was surprised that I even needed to explain myself, but I was reminded at that moment just how accessible media is for straight people. They can constantly find a new show, song, or movie they feel represented by. There is a shortage of realistically told queer media that is not sexualizing or tokenizing the characters, so when I find media that I feel seen by, it's something I cherish and watch or listen to over and over again. 

Being queer has become more accepted in the mainstream, but that does not take away the need for more diverse queer representation. There is a severe lack of non-stereotypical queer representation that features masculine, feminine, and genderqueer individuals of all ethnicities, body types, and abilities. Often, the queer “representation” will be two feminine, white-passing women – likely because their existence conforms best within our patriarchal, heterosexual society. If more queer people can be given the opportunity to make more media, we will undoubtedly see more authentic, inclusive depictions of queer people in the mainstream. 

That is why artists like Chappell Roan, movies like Bottoms, and T.V. shows like I Am Not Okay With This mean so much to queer people. Media has the power to tell marginalized stories and help people feel seen or accepted. With all the pain and judgment that queer people often endure, seeing queer people live happily and unapologetically is incredibly important for the well-being of the entire community. 

 

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poli sci and history major who chronically rewatches movies/tv shows that were popular in middle school to feel something

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