Once upon a time, queer people, mostly men, used a coded question to find others when being out wasn’t sure: “Are you a friend of Dorothy’s?” Although its roots point to various sources – Dorothy Gale’s circle of outcasts (especially that mad lion) in The Wizard of Oz, the movie character played by the mother of all gay icons, Judy Garland, and even Dorothy Parker, who often invited gay men to her evenings – the phrase was in use at least until the 1990s, when it was uttered in In the dark.
Gen Z, of course, has its own version, and this one is of and for girls: “Do you like Girl in Red?”
Reaching its zenith in 2020 thanks to TikTok, the phrase has become the new fun code and hashtag / meme for lesbians and bi girls just about anywhere. And this time, its meaning is easy to trace: straight to 23-year-old Norwegian queer pop artist Marie Ulven, aka Girl in Red.
“I just thought it was funny,” Ulven tells Yahoo Life that it stands for lesbian and queerness. “I’m a huge fan of how the internet works when it works well and does good things … I just thought it was funny when it happened, and then I thought, ‘Hey, that’s great.'”
She has embraced it to the point of using the hashtag question herself, as well as putting up posters with the question in places around the world.
“We thought we could do something more around it, and in a way make it not necessarily political, but … maybe put it in places where people might actually have to rely more on something that speaks in code rather than just saying it. aloud, such as Russia or Brazil or other, Poland [for the] people who struggle there, “he says.
Although the use of the meme has largely subsided (“This is, like, a very old thing,” he points out), Ulven – whose dreamy, distressing songs like “Girls” and “We Fell in Love in October” speak for themselves. unmistakably about girl-girl crushes, love, relationships, sex and grief, and who recently helped a fan come out to her mom by calling her from the stage – attaches great importance to queer visibility in pop music and the wider culture zeitgeist. pop.
“I think it’s important for any type of person to find something in pop culture or anywhere else that they can relate to,” he says. “So even if you’re a kid in a small town and you really want to be a football player and you have someone to look up to, because that’s your biggest dream … It’s the same for someone in some town who has feelings around their sexuality, and perhaps thinking that they are queer, or that they feel different from other people. I think it’s important to have that person you can look up to and somehow help you come to terms with those feelings. “
While Ulven previously talked about what she saw as a lack of LGBTQ role models, she tells Yahoo Life that she was encouraged to see the change, “regardless of whether it is Heartbreaker Netflix series “or something similar.
Of that boy-boy romantic series, based on Alice Oseman’s British comic novels and a smash hit with American teens and preteens, he adds: “I also think boys really need to see that boys can be bisexual and boys can like guys because I have noticed that many of my male friends are very, very, my male friends are very careful when trying to understand their sexuality. They know they like women and are like “I’ll stop here.” They are too scared to go further “. For the encouragement in that realm, Ulven is grateful for what she sees as “more and more representation” and more and more artists who say, “in one little sentence, ‘I’m bisexual, I’m gay’, whatever” – as well as people who go big with their homosexuality, like Lil Nas X.
“He says to me, ‘I’m gay, I’m gay, I’m gay! And I’m so proud of it!’ And everyone is listening to it. And I think it’s really great, “he says.
Ulven first burst onto the scene with “I Wanna be Your Girlfriend” in 2016, when he went crazy on SoundCloud. He is currently in the midst of a European tour and recently joined forces with another Gen Z queer pop culture hero: Hunter Schafer, of Euphoria fame, who made her directorial debut in the Girl in Red music video for “hornylovesickmess”, released in May, to the delight of both fans.
“Personally I wanted to work with another creative that I was, like, really excited about, someone I really respect and I really think is fantastic … And for me at the time it was more exciting than finding the X, Y, Z kind of director.” says Ulven, noting that she is a “huge fan of Euphoria. “
Schafer, when approached by Ulven, said she wanted to try her hand at directing, so the two met for lunch in Los Angeles and “talked for hours” before continuing with the FaceTime sessions, through which they came up with the concept for video. “Then we were like, OK, let’s put a real production company here. Let’s really do it. And then we just did it.”
The result is a moody, passionate and edgy portrait of desire and emblematic of the way Ulven seems to put all of himself into his music, as with “Serotonin”, a 2021 song in which he is boldly transparent about struggles for mental health, referring to everything from “intrusive thoughts like cutting my hands” to being “stabilized with medicine”.
“It’s just me saying exactly what I had in mind at the time and I don’t put any kind of filter on the lyrics and just pour it all out,” he says. “So, it came to me very quickly as I was writing it. And I didn’t think about it too much. I didn’t think, ‘what does that mean?’ I honestly never think about these things. I never think about it. I think a lot, but never when I’m doing something … I just do what feels good and makes me feel good, and what makes the song the best. “
In the several months between her writing of “Serotonin” and its publication around the world, Ulven says, she too has been struck by her own honesty.
“I was like, ‘holy f ** k. This song is really brutal. I’m talking about cutting off my hands. I swear to God, someone will erase me [because] there was no trigger notice on the song. ‘ And [then] I’m like, ‘Oh my God, I can’t be alive in this world right now with people who are like this!’ “He says.” At the end of the day, it’s a song, and I think about music or art or whatever. another thing you want to call it … if someone gets offended, that’s fine “.
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