Hearing the Rainbow – local artists reflect on LGBTQIA and their music

Hearing the Rainbow – local artists reflect on LGBTQIA and their music

Hearing the Rainbow – local artists reflect on LGBTQIA and their music
AK Jameson prefers to maintain gender neutrality in Right Proper’s songs about universal emotions to best connect with the listener. (Photo Kieren Jameson)

Dave Hughes The Beat of Diablo bannerCONCORD, CA (June 15, 2023) — I’m using my column this month as a platform for a few folx in the music community who identify as LGBTQIA to voice how their sexual orientation and/or gender identity plays a role in their artistry.

“At this point in my life, the two are definitely interwoven, but it took time to get there,” shares Concord songwriter Rachael Kayte.

Not realizing that she was gay at a younger age, Kayte notes that she didn’t have to struggle through a closeted adolescence. Discovering this important part of her identity later in life has enriched her artistry, allowing her to express herself more fully.

“After I came out, I was way more willing to share my music openly. I feel like it was a big shift for me in my songwriting when I started using female pronouns as my object of affection. I’ve always been a performer, but I’ve never been willing to play my original work until the last couple of years since coming out. Being able to explore who I am as a whole person – instead of just the pieces of whomever I’m expected to be – really shaped my songwriting and the sound of my music, which changed dramatically after I came out,” she says. “My willingness, openness and authenticity definitely shine more now in my art.”

Songwriter AK Jameson of the Concord band Right Proper sees her sexual identity and her artistic output as less intertwined, citing the importance of allowing the listener to make their own connections to her work on their terms.

“Love, loss and heartache are all universal emotions,” offers Jameson. “They are not more or less important because of someone’s sexual identity. While my sexual identity (bisexual, if anyone cares) influences my artistry, it is not explicitly expressed in my songs. I believe in the power of surprise and leaving interpretation up to the listener, much like George Michael’s ‘Jesus to a Child’ and my own song ‘Delusional,’ which is about falling in love with a drag queen.”

For other folx, queerness is more front and center in their artistry and output. Take, for example, Pretty Frankenstein, an East Bay goth/alt-rock band whose catalog includes the songs “Pronouns” and “Gay Pirate Sex.”

Band leader Grey Starr, a trans woman, uses her music as commentary on the state of the world. “The rest of the band is queer as well – Paulina, our guitarist, and Marina, our bassist – so it’s almost impossible not to mention it or have it be the premise of many of our songs,” Starr notes. “I’ve been pansexual since I was a teenager in the early 2000s, and even then, it wasn’t as accepted (as it is today). I dealt with a lot of hate for dating people of the same gender identity. Coming out as trans two years ago came with overcoming some intense trauma and realities about myself, but I’m so grateful. As a musician, I’m so happy to be able to speak to other trans POC like me and provide both representation and comfort in our shared stories.”

Follow Rachael Kayte, Right Proper and Pretty Frankenstein on social media to learn how you can support them and discover when and where to catch them live. Links to their Instagram accounts can be found by clicking “Artists” at TheBeatofDiablo.com.

Contact Dave Hughes at MrDaveHughes@gmail.com.