Generational Queer Repression + Listening to “Slumber Party”
Every queer person over the age of 27 that I sent “Slumber Party” to had an immediate visceral reaction.
HEY: Are you related to me? Are we coworkers of some kind, or do we have a professional relationship? Well, this article talks about sex. If that feels weird, skip it. Thanks!
(Love you mom!)
Every queer person over the age of 27 I sent “Slumber Party” to had an immediate visceral reaction.
It’s simply too powerful
Allis said in the group chat.
Ernestina almost crashed her car.
Rey didn’t respond for three days and then sent me back one of the lyrics —
“my girl looks like Wednesday Addams/eyes turn black when she orgasms” and
Being queer doesn’t HAVE to mean being repressed.
But when I think about the people I know who are queer and around my age…
Well. They’re repressed.
Almost all of them.
So I kind of delighted in sending my friends Slumber Party, a social experiment.
An extremely unscientific study with the research question “Is it just me, or is this VERY NOT REPRESSED?”
I really don’t have much to say about the actual content of the song Slumber Party (I didn’t watch the video btw. Like Allis said: it’s simply too powerful).
Ashnikko, who wrote Slumber Party, is white, 25, and tweets things like this. They have an aesthetic that reminds me (probably intentionally) of Spencer Gifts, the 00s mall store that sold strobe lights and Chucky Dolls and knives with flowers on it. Understanding their brand makes writing about Slumber Party, or having any reaction to the song at all feel out of touch, missing the point. It feels like posting a link to an article about people getting gay marriage in some Canadian province I’ve never heard of, or unironically using the pride flag emoji.
But I can’t help it.
In her verse on Slumber Party, Princess Nokia sounds like how I feel as a listener, a kind of Milennial audience surrogate. She lists 90-00s icons (Nelly, Britney, Xtina, Wild Wild West?!) in the least ADHD verse she’s ever done. Her excessive 00s references feel like an attempt to stay afloat, to ground in the fact that like… it hasn’t always been cool to say these things, right?
Shit hasn’t always like been like this, has it?
Slumber Party feels different from Montero, the obvious queer pop culture comparison hit of 2021, by Lil Nas.
Lil Nas planned his every move for the launch of the Montero video, working on it obsessively for a year straight.
He calculated the launch down to the last second, designed it to thrill some and horrify others, to trend at an scale unprecedented for the phrase “I only fuck the ones I envy” — at least, out loud.
Many people, including Lil Nas himself, have talked about how this chessmaster brand calculation took an toll on him as a person.
That calculation feels way more familiar to me than anything in Slumber Party.
I easily recognize this queer experience: the type of repression that lingers even when you put Satan on a stripper pole and dare the right wing to fight back.
Slumber Party doesn’t have the zingers of Montero, the carefully planned evangelical comebacks on Twitter, or the Satan stripping video.
The components of the Slumber Party artist’s whole deal — the blue hair, the hot topic thing, being white and rapping at all — there’s calculation there, but it feels unfamiliar. It’s not defiant, deeply conscious of the ways people will not like it, might attack. It doesn’t like what it likes the way Lil Nas does, all the while making thousands of bots to respond to death threats and trolls.
That’s the part to me that feels bewildering in Slumber Party.
The lack of a certain type of calculation.
That, and: other people like it.
I’m 30: I came out as “queer” at 13, in 2003 (I didn’t “come out” as trans for another 10 years, in the same year Laverne Cox was on The View.)
In 2003, homophobia wasn’t that bad, in theory.
But it was still there, I think.
I’m never really sure what was real and what was my own shame.
I’m not always totally sure if things used to be different, or if things have always been like this.
Was it not okay to say this shit before?
Or was it just calculation, my own weird repression that made me believe it wasn’t?
For a long time, the only other queer person I knew of who was out was on a rival debate team. In his senior year, he was elected prom king.
For years I obsessed about this fact, though I tried to pretend that I didn’t.
A few years ago I met someone who had gone to high school with him.
I told her, in a joking way, trying to make it light, that I thought about him being prom king all the time. Haha.
She stared at me, sudden very serious. “Oh, “she said after a second. “That was a way of recognizing that everybody had beaten him up for years. You know, high school, it’s weird like that. People hated him, they were awful for decades.”
I felt horrible when she told me that, full of sadness.
But before I felt sad, I felt relief.
I felt rid of the jealousy I had carried around with me for so many years without even realizing it.
People didn’t like him, gay sans calculation, after all.