A thank you is in order for this extraordinary bisexual artist
BY KATIE CHAMBERS, IMAGE BY WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
Phoebe Bridgers’ songs are some of the only songs I’ve listened to that have made me wince in pain, and I mean that as a massive compliment. I’ve listened to Moon Song countless times, but I still have a full-body response to the line “I will wait for the next time you want me/Like a dog with a bird at your door” . Lyrically, no-one’s doing it like Bridgers: her music serves up tender poetry and cathartic screams for every mood. But the bigger compliment I want to pay her this week is that she’s a fantastic ambassador for bisexual women.
That’s not just because she is a famous bisexual woman. It’s about a lot more than that. In fact, quite rightly, Bridgers has been ambivalent about queer celebrities automatically being nominated as vanguards of the LGBTQIA community. “I think it’s weird to put that on people in media, to be role models, or fucking politicians, as if we’re all trained lobbyists for collective change”, she told Vogue. “I care, but I’m not a scientist.”
And that’s exactly it. Without centering herself, Bridgers uses her platform to bolster the queer community and speak out against hate. As a cis, white, bisexual woman, she’s taught me so much about supporting those members of the queer community whose experiences neither of us can understand. “I’ve been able to waltz through my life not seeing transphobia every day”, she acknowledged in another interview. “The burden for trans people is that they will experience it every day.”
Her words are powerful, and so are her actions. Aware that fans were eagerly waiting for the release of her second album, Punisher, Bridgers dropped it a day early alongside a list of racial justice organisations, encouraging people to listen and donate. This was way back in June 2020, and if even one fan had donated to every organisation she’s promoted since, they would have done well. Groups she’s promoted at live shows include the Texas Transgender Education Network and the Mariposa fund, an abortion fund specialising in undocumented people.
Soon after Roe v Wade was overturned last year, Bridgers had the Glastonbury crowds screaming “Fuck the Supreme Court!” It was righteous feminist rage, but, much like her music, she switches between fury and gorgeousness when talking about women’s rights, and they’re both so therapeutic. “Between sips of an oat milk latte” (she’s just like me fr), Bridgers told Teen Vogue that her own abortion was “anxiety riddled” but ultimately “super nice”. This short quote has stayed with me ever since I first read the interview: never has the word “nice” been used more radically.
And then there was boygenius. A group of gay women are now queens of a genre once dominated by T-shirt-wearing white cis men. They’ve produced not only one of the albums of the year, but also lots of the most joyful WLW moments of the year. Seeing their unadulterated sapphic friendship on stage has been medicinal, and their concerts are becoming a kind of queer mecca, a safe space where the community can dance together and form their own friendships. You don’t have to dig very far on social media to see how much this has meant to the queer community.
And when queer joy has been replaced with fear, they’ve been there too. When Tennessee passed a flurry of anti-LGBTQIA legislation earlier this year, boygenius were there, dressed in drag, chanting “Fuck Bill Lee” (Tennessee’s governor). “The government actually actively trying to kill the coolest people is something I think about every day” Phoebe said about the legislation in an interview with Them. You can feel her genuine love for the queer community.
We also need to talk about Bridgers has done all of this whilst being in one of the most high-profile heterosexual relationships in recent memory, with potentially the cis-het male heartthrob of the day. Throughout her relationship with Paul Mescal, the breakdown of their engagement and her subsequent relationship with Bo Burnham, another famous man, Bridgers has never stopped being visibly, loudly bisexual. As someone with a similar history of dating men (sadly I’ve not dated Paul or Bo yet) this has massively inspired me.
Her lyrics make us cry, and her pride us feel brave. It’s not about putting her on a pedestal as the leader of the bisexuals, but I hope she feels how much she is appreciated. How do you thank someone for all this? She’d definitely find better words than I have.
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