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Opinion: Billie Eilish’s “Lunch” is the LGBTQ anthem we so desperately need

Billie Eilish’s new song “Lunch” is the definitive queer anthem of 2024.

At the start of Pride Month and in the midst of yet another exhausting legislative season in the United States with attacks on LGBTQ people, the paradox of queer celebration and terror dances in the shadows of the fierce, affirmative “Lunch.”

From her new album, “Hit Me Hard and Soft,” Billie presents an unmistakably queer-centric sexuality that minces no words when describing how she wants to perform oral sex on her lover.

“Lunch” is bold, provocative and confrontational. It looks like trans activist Marsha P. Johnson on the front lines of the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York; like Billy Porter, who unapologetically wore a dress on the 2020 Oscars red carpet; like every woman who has ever kissed another woman in broad daylight, regardless of the consequences.

Billie Eilish's evolution as an out and proud member of the LGBTQ community, reflected in her album and related interviews, mirrors how far society has come in allowing celebrities to reflect their true identities.

At 22 years old, Eilish has already experienced more fame than most could ever hope to achieve. She has won multiple Grammys, including Record of the Year, Billboard, MTV and People's Choice Awards, as well as two Oscars for Best Original Song for “What Was I Made For?” from last year's film “Barbie” and “No Time to Die”, from the film of the same name in 2021.

Many of these awards she accepted alongside her brother, co-author and producer, Finneas O'Connell. Still, she is very young and just starting to understand herself and her sexuality.

In addition to her achievements, the lyrical explicitness in Eilish's “Lunch” highlights the strides our community has made in authentic, open LGBTQ content and marks a tangible moment to celebrate our progress.

Throughout history, LGBTQ creators and private citizens have had to hide, suppress their desires, disguise their true identities in heteronormative veils, whether through sham marriages or coded literature, or subtle references in scripts and lyrics. We were the strange aunts who live in the city, the curious students going through a phase, or the confused housewives in need of a break.

Artists like the late singer Whitney Houston, kd Lang and Tracy Chapman are part of a long list of performers who have had to hide their true identities in a closet for part or all of their careers to “make it.” Actors like Jodie Foster and Elliot Page were closeted for years before they felt secure enough in their careers to come out.

Eilish’s “Lunch” symbolizes the seismic evolution in queer women’s expression in music. It beats “I Kissed a Girl” by Katy Perry.

It's not just recent lyrics that inspire the LGBTQ imagination. Eilish's look, a mix of tomboy and grunge artist, transcends binary gender norms for female stars. Baggy t-shirts and sneakers replace formal dresses and heels, offering relief to any listener who hasn't yet fit into social standards of gender or sexuality.

As queer people and as women, communities that have been socialized to silence our sexuality, to subject us to the object of the male gaze if our beauty allows it, or to silence us are undesirable. The double whammy of being women who also love other women has made us even more invisible, although it has, conversely, given us the opportunity to rewrite the script, or the lyrics, as it turns out.

Eilish’s “Lunch” is a brilliant reinvention of our queer freedom of expression and comes at a time of great need.

Billie Eilish: see the most listened to songs from the new album on the platform

In states across the United States and countries around the world, anti-LGBTQ hatred is alive and well, underscoring the need to create a counter-narrative that leans toward queer love and joy.

More than 500 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in state legislatures across the US. And other countries that were already hostile to LGBTQ people have intensified their attacks on our community, including Russia, which enacted a law making LGBTQ expression illegal; Ghana, which passed a law in February that punishes LGBTQ relationships and even support for the community with imprisonment; and Uganda, which imposes up to 20 years in prison for identifying as LGBTQ and even the death penalty for some crimes.

In Italy, which elected a far-right leader in 2022, efforts are underway to make surrogacy a crime, claiming the practice is “inhumane” and, if approved, would disproportionately prevent some LGBTQ people from becoming parents.

Earlier this month, the U.S. State Department issued a travel warning for LGBTQ people visiting other countries for Pride events, citing an increased threat without naming specific jurisdictions. The document came on the heels of an announcement from the FBI and Department of Homeland Security a week earlier warning travelers about the potential for targeted violence at LGBTQ events.

Four lesbians were burned this month in Buenos Aires and at least three died. The death of non-binary teenager Nex Benedict in March made news across the United States and its circumstances remain unclear and suspicious. The murder of Black trans woman Starr Brown last month in Memphis is one of at least 14 murders of transgender and gender-expansive people in the U.S. reported this year.

And these are just a few of the many examples of LGBTQ people killed this year alone that point to the broader trend of a sociopolitical climate in which LGBTQ people are less safe.

These statistics have names, families and potential extinguished too soon.

Billie Eilish criticizes exposure of her sexuality: “Who cares?”

The Trevor Project, a bullying and suicide prevention organization, recently published a report which quantifies the harm the negative environment is doing to our LGBTQ youth. Ninety percent of LGBTQ youth said their well-being has been negatively impacted due to the recent policy and half have experienced bullying in the past year.

We are failing our children and are at serious risk of losing everything we have achieved over the last generation in terms of equal rights and psychological and physical safety.

It is time our leaders pay attention to the state of distress and danger they are putting their most vulnerable constituents in by spreading lies and misinformation that LGBTQ people are somehow a threat to the social order. Around the world, LGBTQ people are contributing to societies and helping to evolve and expand our understanding of love and human expression.

If we would just lay down our swords and open our hearts and minds. If only we would tune in to Billie Eilish's music and her inherent humanity—carnal, raw, authentic—and recognize in her our own hidden desires that we should confront with the same openness that she does.

Billie Eilish's shameless lyrics and vocal omnipotence create an emotional blanket. When millions of her fans, LGBTQ and allies, raise their fists in support of her same-sex love and desire, it counters, if only a little, the homophobic and transphobic insults that right-wing officials and armchair activists hurl at us.

In a world where LGBTQ people are still forced to stifle these most intense and beautiful parts of ourselves and our self-expression in whispers, to swallow our desires for fear of familial or social rejection (or worse) the power of being bold and explicit cannot be underestimated. Billie's top 40 hit shouts from the rooftops that it's OK for a woman to want another woman and make those desires known.

Billie Eilish is not an anomaly when it comes to out celebrities. Stars like Lily Tomlin, Rosie O'Donnell, Ellen DeGeneres, Melissa Etheridge and others have paved the way for the proliferation of openly queer artists.

What Eilish has achieved, however, with her latest album and particularly the song “Lunch,” is raising the bar for the uninhibited expression of queer and female sexual desire. This Pride Month, she'll grab her lunch and eat it too. The rest of us will turn up the volume when this song comes on and hopefully get a little closer to our own truth.

Billie Eilish will be the youngest artist to headline Glastonbury Festival

Source: CNN Brasil

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