I’d Like To Apologize To the Fag Community for Overlooking Charli XCX

Accountability is important in the queer community. Especially as someone with a small but loyal following of gay-leaning bisexual trans mascs, trans girls who love movies, and cis people who find me hot, it’s important for me to publicly admit when I’ve made a mistake. So, today, I would like to say that I was wrong about Charli XCX.

I don’t want to make excuses, but, for the sake of this accountability process, I will try to give context and explanations. Despite it being the genre my friends most associate with my taste, the truth is I came to pop music late. The only pop music I let myself listen to throughout my adolescence was Kesha, because the person I had a crush on was a fan. Otherwise, I felt like enjoying pop music was too girly. Instead I enjoyed super heterosexual music by the guy who used to kiss his sax player and the guy who wrote music with Phoebe Bridgers and raised me on sad songs about older girls not wanting to date him. But then a couple years before I transitioned, I told a crush that I didn’t feel like Beyoncé was for me and she called me a fucking idiot. I sheepishly bought 4 on iTunes and discovered she was right.

Suddenly, a whole new world had opened up to me. Beyoncé, Rihana, returning to Kesha. Kylie Minogue, George Michael, Robyn, even Madonna! I listened to more pop music and started to let go of the gender binary I’d been hiding within. Eventually I did come out, and my scope of pop increased even more. SOPHIE, Janelle Monáe, Hannah Diamond, Tunde Olaniran, Carly Rae Jepsen, Marina, Ah-Mer-Ah-Su, Wafia, Tove Lo — I could go on and on.

I love my sad girl music too, but nothing compares to the feeling of great pop.

And yet here I was nearly a decade after making this discovery, still overlooking Charli XCX. I shrugged her off again and again. Even though she worked with artists I liked, I never sought out her own music. Even though I have a wide variety of queer friends of lots of genders! Even though I famously love poppers! I still didn’t listen. To quote that girl from college, I was a fucking idiot. How can I claim my gender lies at the intersection of dyke and faggot, while overlooking such an essential voice for the latter?

Last week when Charli XCX’s latest album brat dropped and our team writer Stef Rubino wrote this excellent review, I thought okay I need to listen to this one. And then… I still didn’t. It took an entire weekend of people recommending the album for me to finally put it on.

All I can say is, wow. And, I’m sorry.

Stef was right that it demands I get my ass on the dance floor. But even with my ass stationary on a subway seat, I was floored. How had I dismissed this artist all these years? How could I ever make amends?

If I may share a tweet:

Screenshot of tweet from @piercespears BRAT is only for the angels who’ve been around since True Romance. Everybody else fuck you!

This was retweeted by friend, writer, and longtime Charli stan Georgie Morvis, and I understand its sentiment. The anger? Deserved.

I will respect this album is not for me while continuing to listen to it on repeat. (The extended version that dropped two days ago with “Guess”?? Remarkable.) In return, if you see me on the dance floor, let me give you angels some poppers. It’s not enough, but hopefully it’s a start.

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Drew Burnett Gregory

Drew is a Brooklyn-based writer, filmmaker, and theatremaker. She is a Senior Editor at Autostraddle with a focus in film and television, sex and dating, and politics. Her writing can also be found at Bright Wall/Dark Room, Cosmopolitan UK, Refinery29, Into, them, and Knock LA. She was a 2022 Outfest Screenwriting Lab Notable Writer and a 2023 Lambda Literary Screenwriting Fellow. She is currently working on a million film and TV projects mostly about queer trans women. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Drew Burnett has written 564 articles for us.

8 Comments

  1. I’ve joked that I’m legally obligated, as a trans woman, to enjoy hyperpop. It really confuses the cis. I’ll probably have to pick this one up at some point.

    (But you see, especially for people around my age, much of hyperpop can apparently draw a line back to 00’s pop but also in an ironic or exaggerated or self aware way, akin to how it’s convenient for me that the clothes I missed in my Y2K puberty are inspiring the trends as I go through my second… In this essay I will…)

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