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Queer Pop’s Next Generation Is Pushing The Boundaries Of A Sexphobic Society

By Carson Mlnarik

On March 25, 2021, listeners were captivated, aroused, and scandalized by a rapper’s shameless descriptions of gay sex. “Shoot a child in your mouth while I’m ridin’,” Lil Nas X quips on “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” complete with an explicit visual in which he makes out with himself in the Garden of Eden and, of course, gives Satan a lap dance. Critics celebrated it as an “unabashedly queer” work of art, something the artist nodded to when he took home Video of the Year at the 2021 VMAs. “I want to say thank you to the gay agenda,” Lil Nas X said during his acceptance speech, marking not only an edifying moment for a rising musician, but a milestone for queer representation.

Only a decade earlier, Adam Lambert was lambasted for kissing a male bassist during a 2009 AMAs performance, Frank Ocean divided fans with an open letter on Tumblr about his sexuality, and Mary Lambert’s use of same-gender pronouns in Macklemore’s 2013 hit “Same Love” felt subversive. While heterosexual artists have long had the freedom to sexually express themselves in music, the success of moments like “Montero” signifies a turning point for LGBTQ+ artists. Now, they’re not only able to be candid about their lovers — they’re allowed to get sexy, too.

Some of today’s biggest artists have built their careers off being explicit, like bisexual pop star Slayyyter, whose songs casually boast lyrics like, “I am the queen, white castle / Pussy real fat with a tight bleached asshole.” She tells MTV News that she’ll “say anything,” explaining that her songs have “a tongue-in-cheek vibe” to them. “There’s a character of humor in them where even though it’s sexual, there’s an element of like, ‘There’s no way she just said that.’”

The St. Louis-born artist took inspiration from Y2K culture and bimboism in crafting her in-your-face persona and the titillating visuals for her most recent album Troubled Paradise. It is an unhinged electro-pop joyride that finds her owning the title of “Throatzilla” on one track and demanding that a lover “better grab my boobs when I ask you” on another. Inspired by the defiant energy of acts like Ke$ha, Slayyyter set out to make “really sexual music” after being turned off by the “formulaic” pop machine. Her tight-knit fans seem to understand that her raunchy lyrics are delivered with a wink and a nod, and even outside of the queer pop scene, Slayyyter thinks songs like Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s “WAP” help push the limits.

“I feel like people are starting to break down the barriers of, ‘This is appropriate to say in a song and this is not,’ which is great,” she says. “I feel like we should be more sexual in our music. It’s fun.”

Slayyyter feels she has carte blanche to express her sexuality without being written off by collaborators and fans, a luxury not always afforded female cultural icons. “I feel like back in the early 2000s or in the ’90s, bimbo-type women were treated so badly,” she explains. “It was this thing, if you were blonde and hot, you were [considered] dumb [but now] it’s become this feminist movement.

Meanwhile, Kim Petras did not mince words on her most recent EP Slut Pop, an over-the-top, raunchy Valentine’s Day collection featuring horny tracks like “Treat Me Like a Slut,” “They Wanna Fuck,” and “Throat Goat.” Acts like Fletcher, Girl in Red, and Troye Sivan have also left little to the imagination with their own lyrical references to sexuality. This openness has inspired queer pop’s next generation to go there with their music, helping to destigmatize queer sex and push the boundaries of a sexphobic society.

Today’s class of LGBTQ+ pop stars, like Jordy, recall growing up listening to heterosexual artists like Avril Lavigne and Backstreet Boys sing about their relationships. It’s only natural they’d do the same. “My mindset is, if I was able to connect with straight artists as a kid, not only should queer people be able to connect with my music, [but] so should straight people,” he tells MTV News.

Born in the suburbs of Chicago, the TikTok-approved singer came out as gay in a “super supportive and accepting community,” so when it came to his career, he felt a duty to remain authentic about his experiences for fans who might not have the same support. “I feel comfortable wearing my heart on my sleeve. I’ve been doing it since I was 15,” he explains.

And he certainly spares no detail. His latest single “Dry Spell” dropped with a candid confession: “I wrote this song about how I’m horny AF but too sensitive of a human for casual [sex] lol does anyone relate.” Its opening words casually profess, “Kinda sucks to be the guy / Who likes to fuck but loves to cry.” And while his same-gender references have resonated with LGBTQ+ fans, his blunt and open discussion of sex resonates widely. “It’s about the pronoun, but it’s also just about bad hookups, and hookup culture, and gay people, and straight people, and bisexual people, and transgender people,” he says. “Any human on any spectrum of sexuality or gender can relate to those experiences.”

His debut album Mind Games is flecked with the same frank candor. “Better in My Head” references gay hookup culture — “At this point, it’s a habit / For me to go to his place / Then walk in with shame and wishin’ that I hadn’t” — while “If He’s in Your Bed” advises listeners to “Don’t cancel all your plans just for some shitty head.” “[My collaborators and I] all looked at each other and we were like, ‘Can I say that?’” Jordy recalls. “It’s just real. I want to say the things that people are too afraid to say, that’s my job.”

We might have reached an era where the LGBTQ+ community is able to sing freely about sex and top the Billboard charts. Yet the recent flurry of anti-transgender legislation passed in states across the country, as well as Florida’s infamous “Don’t Say Gay” bill have shown that while acceptance has hit the airwaves, the act of singing openly about queer sex is, in some circles, still radical. “I do think there’s always going to be a political aspect to it because there are people who are going to associate sexuality with their political stance on things,” says Jack Irvin, a music and culture writer who’s also contributed to MTV News. “I don’t necessarily think it’s a political act to create a song like ‘Call Me By Your Name,’ but I would almost say to release it is when it becomes political, because then you’re putting it into the hands of people [with] thoughts and opinions that they probably already made before they even clicked on the song.”

Perhaps the biggest sign of progress is that our queer pop stars can not only frankly sing about sex but also live out their lives as members of the LGBTQ+ community in the open. “We’ve always had queer music, but it’s the queer pop spectacle of it all that I actually think makes the major impact on society,” Irvin says, pointing to artists like Sivan and Lil Nas X whose careers span beyond music into film, TV, and brand deals. “It’s when queerness isn’t something that you can just avoid by turning off the radio, it’s everywhere.”

Jenna Elfman at 50: ‘I Feel Younger Than I’ve Ever Been’

When I interviewed Dharma & Greg co-creator Chuck Lorre recently, he talked about wanting to create a character like Dharma who was full of love and unconditionally kind compared to some of the more edgy and hardened characters he had previously written. Tell me about your experience on the show, which is now streaming on Hulu.

He told me that [he had come off some] challenging experiences [on previous shows] and that it was just fun creating Dharma and working backwards to figure out where she came from. I loved his writing for the show. I loved what he and Dottie Dartland created. It was genuinely a lot of fun and that whole cast was spectacular. It was sincerely a blast.

What would fans say when they would meet you?

Still to this day if I’m walking through an airport or in the grocery store or whatever, people’s faces light up with joy and then they say, “I love Dharma. I wanted to be her. I wanted to know her. I wanted to be friends with her.” And then they say, “I hope you’re like her because she was really cool.” How amazing is that? It just takes me back to the fun I had making it. A lot of them are now watching it with their daughters or granddaughters and forwarding it on.

I also got letters that said, “I was going to kill myself, but [thanks to] watching Dharma & Greg I’ve decided not to because I realized it’s okay to be different. It’s okay to be myself.”

Wow.

I got a lot of those, frankly. So it just feels like, on many levels, it was a special experience.

Do you think you were or are like Dharma?

Well, I do genuinely love people. I love talking with people, hearing people’s stories. I think it’s an innate human inclination to share stories with each other and in your own persona make people feel safe to express themselves, to tell you their story. I think that’s probably what I share. I love people and I do really enjoy life. I actually really enjoy my life. 

You had such an iconic haircut on the show. Was that for the character or did you have that look prior?

No, I had it. My friend Caroline Wiseman had been my stylist for a while, and that’s what I went in with. And then I kept changing it because I’m kind of hair obsessed and couldn’t stick with one look.

Did you have to ask for permission back then? Or could you do what you wanted?

I kind of did what I wanted until I wanted to cut it super short. Then I called and asked if that would be okay. And they said yeah. It was kind of a transition for Dharma and it made sense, I guess.

You had a memorable cameo in the 1998 film, Can’t Hardly Wait, where you played a stripper angel. Tell me about that. 

Kate Middleton Revisited Her Favorite White Suit

The Duchess of Cambridge loves a bright white suit. In the past, Kate Middleton has worn ivory Roland Mouret separates, as well as a Self-Portrait skirt set with shades of Bianca Jagger, demonstrating her taste for tailoring in neutral shades. She returned to a familiar favorite on 22 June to join Prince William at the unveiling of the National Windrush Monument in London. 

The Duchess chose a white suit that she previously wore earlier this year, on her trip to Jamaica with Prince William. The crisp set in question is by Alexander McQueen, and comprises a single-breasted jacket and matching high-waisted tailored trousers. Kate Middleton really committed to the palette, opting for a white tank-top underneath the jacket, a white pair of pointed leather pumps, and a white Mulberry Amberley crossbody bag.

JOHN SIBLEY/Getty Images

Earlier this year, the Duchess of Sussex also waved the flag for white suits when she wore Valentino to the Invictus Games. And whilst the look is still trending—with help from famous fans like Adele, Bella Hadid, and Jared Leto—what’s really fashionable right now is rewearing items that are already in your wardrobe. 

Samir Hussein

Sunbasket Might Be the Easiest (and Most Delicious) Way to Start Eating Healthy

Pretty much every meal delivery service claims to be an easy experience; not all of them follow through, especially when you find yourself pulling out a second cutting board or looking up a word on Google. (What’s the difference between julienne and chiffonade, anyway?) But Sunbasket actually delivers—I spent no more than 25 minutes on each meal, and the most intense task was cubing a cucumber.

Better yet, each meal left me feeling completely satisfied, but not overfull. It’s a balancing act that I have difficulty achieving when I’m cooking for myself or ordering at a restaurant. Here’s a breakdown of my experience, recipe by recipe.

Rainbow Quinoa-Black Bean Tacos

My first Sunbasket meal was also the easiest. The entire thing took less than 10 minutes, and most of that was simply microwaving the quinoa-bean filling, which came pre-cooked. Partially because the recipe was vegan, the tacos didn’t have the quintessential taco flavor you’d expect from ground beef. But the result—complete with juicy tomatoes, bright, acidic slaw, and surprisingly great pre-made guacamole—was a welcome change. And although it was a two-person serving, there was plenty to feed three people. Not a bad way to start.

Roasted Salmon and Fennel

In the past, fennel has always let me down. But the veggie was so good here (alongside perfectly baked salmon and crispy zucchini) that I’m a newly minted fennel stan. While cooking this meal, I started to appreciate all the thoughtful details I had missed during the first recipe: easy-open plastic bags, clearly labeled ingredients, and parchment paper included in the bag. I only had to supply salt, pepper, and oil, and I got through all of the prep work in less than 10 minutes. I finished everything on my plate almost as soon as I sat down to eat, and I discovered a new way to cook salmon in the process. Good on you, Sunbasket!

Smoky Tempeh Nachos

Vegan cheese is a tricky subject. When it’s done well (which, honestly, is not often) it’s a miracle; when it’s done poorly (which is most of the time) it’s a goopy mess that makes you question your diet in the first place. But praise be: Sunbasket’s dairy-free take on nachos is actually delicious, and it took just a little chopping to make. Well-seasoned tempeh, fresh cucumber-grape salsa, pickled jalapeños, and amazingly great “cheesy” cashew sauce make a great meal when piled on top of chips. It’s also a summer-friendly recipe, considering I didn’t even need to turn my oven on. I’m now a Sunbasket believer.

Is Sunbasket worth it?

If you’re hoping to cook at home more, looking out for your health, or following a specialized diet, Sunbasket can help. I had zero issues, and every meal materialized with minimal effort in less than half an hour; it was so good I’m even reconsidering my animosity toward recipes.

The service isn’t exactly cheap, and you should consider how (or if) it’ll fit into your food budget before you start planning your weeks around it. But for people like me, who regularly spend more per serving on takeout and find themselves in cooking ruts, Sunbasket is like an investment in myself—a promise that I’ll eat a healthier, home-cooked recipe over a greasy delivery meal or the same old plate of pasta week after week. In the end, this delicious, healthy food lives up to the price tag, and it’s more than worth a try.

Hailey Bieber’s Rhode Skin Sued for Trademark Infringement

Hailey Bieber’s Rhode Skin, which the 25-year-old launched last week, is being sued for trademark infringement. 

On Tuesday, June 21, counsel representing Rhode, a fashion label cofounded by Purna Khatau and Phoebe Vickers, issued a statement to the press regarding the news.

“Ms. Bieber launched a beauty skin-care line using the same exact brand as Rhode,” lawyer Lisa Simpson said. “She did this despite knowing of Rhode and its prior rights. Ms. Bieber tried to buy the RHODE mark from Rhode four years ago.” 

An excerpt of the lawsuit reads, “This is a textbook case of reverse confusion, in which a massive junior trademark user threatens to trample a smaller senior user’s market.” 

Simpson acknowledges that Bieber’s “Rhode” branding didn’t appear out of nowhere—it’s her legal middle name—but says that regardless, “the law on this is clear: You can’t create this kind of brand confusion just because you want to use your name.”

A source from Rhode Skin told TMZ that Bieber’s brand owns the trademark for skin care, while Rhode the fashion brand owns the trademark for clothing. Rhode Skin did not immediately return Glamour’s request for comment.

Per the Rhode fashion website, the brand was founded in New York by two former college roommates, Khatau and Vickers, who quit their full-time jobs to begin their fashion brand together in 2013, and has been worn by celebrities from Beyoncé to Hailey Bieber herself.


Hailey Bieber’s Rhode Skincare Sued for Trademark Infringement

Hailey Bieber’s Rhode Skin, which the 25-year-old launched last week, is being sued for trademark infringement. 

On Tuesday, June 21, counsel representing Rhode, a fashion label co-founded by Purna Khatau and Phoebe Vickers, issued a statement to the press regarding the news.

“Ms. Bieber launched a beauty skin-care line using the same exact brand as Rhode,” lawyer Lisa Simpson said. “She did this despite knowing of Rhode and its prior rights. Ms. Bieber tried to buy the RHODE mark from Rhode four years ago.” 

An excerpt of the lawsuit reads, “This is a textbook case of reverse confusion, in which a massive junior trademark user threatens to trample a smaller senior user’s market.” 

Simpson acknowledges that Bieber’s “Rhode” branding didn’t appear out of nowhere—it’s her legal middle name—but says regardless, “the law on this is clear: you can’t create this kind of brand confusion just because you want to use your name.” 

A source from Rhode Skin told TMZ that Bieber’s brand owns the trademark for skincare, while Rhode the fashion brand owns the trademark for clothing. Rhode Skin did not immediately return Glamour’s request for comment.

Per the Rhode fashion website, the brand was founded in New York by two former college roommates, Khatau and Vickers, who quit their full-time jobs to begin their fashion brand together in 2013, and has been worn by celebrities from Beyoncé to Hailey Bieber herself.


Beyoncé’s New Single ‘Break My Soul’ Will Soundtrack Your Summer — And Your Resignation

Queen Bey is lookin’ for motivation and a new foundation, and she might just break your soul on the dance floor in the process.

On Tuesday (June 21), Beyoncé dropped her newest resonating single “Break My Soul” from Act I of her upcoming seventh studio album, Renaissance. The track is a throwback to ‘90s house music melded with call-and-repeat vocals sampled from bounce legend Big Freedia’s song “Explode” and instrumentals from “Show Me Love” by Robin S. The song first dropped on Tidal three hours ahead of its scheduled midnight release before becoming available to stream on Spotify and Apple Music.

“You won’t break my soul,” the resilient queen vocalizes repeatedly in the pulsating introduction and chorus. “I’m tellin’ everybody.”

Heralded as an anthem for both the “Great Resignation” and the “post-pandemic era” the song’s lyrics channel many of our complicated collective feelings about the rocky last two years, as well as the cautious excitement that comes with reentering society. “I just quit my job / I’m gonna find new drive, damn, they work me so damn hard,” she sings, before breaking free from the stress with a bold, energetic rap.

“I’mma let down my hair ’cause I lost my mind,” she continues. “Bey is back and I’m sleepin’ real good at night / The queens in the front and the Doms in the back / Ain’t takin’ no flicks but the whole clique snapped.”

Big Freedia comes through on the liberated post-chorus and in the outro. “Release ya anger, release ya mind / Release ya job, release the time,” her distant vocals rap. “Release ya trade, release the stress / Release the love, forget the rest.” And on Instagram, the New Orleans-based rapper gave an excited and joyful shout-out to her collaborator.

“It feels surreal to be on the track with the Queen Beyonce once again,” she wrote. “I’m so honored to be a part of this special moment, I’m forever grateful lord.”

Big Freedia previously collaborated with Beyoncé in sampling lyrics for the song “Formation” off the pop icon’s universally acclaimed 2016 album Lemonade. “I did not come to play with you hoes, haha,” she says on the song. “I came to slay, bitch.”

Beyoncé announced on June 16 that Renaissance: Act I will drop on July 29. In a recent interview with British Vogue, for which she also posed regally and magnificently for the cover, she stated that the new album will have “soaring vocals and fierce beats” and “music that makes you rise, that turns your mind to cultures and subcultures, to our people past and present, music that will unite so many on the dance floor, music that touches your soul.” Fittingly, she also described the album as if “a split second, I’m transported back to the clubs of my youth.”

According to Variety, Renaissance will not just dance tracks but also country-leaning tracks. Songwriter Ryan Tedder, who co-wrote her 2008 hit “Halo” for the album I Am… Sasha Fierce, is reported to have contributed to writing for the album.

Since the tea-spilling of Lemonade in 2016, Beyoncé has worked on numerous projects. She starred as Nala in the 2019 musical remake of The Lion King and curated its soundtrack album called The Lion King: The Gift. On Juneteenth 2020, she released the surprise charity single “Black Parade,” and an online directory called “Black Parade Route” was launched alongside the song’s release to promote Black-owned small businesses.

Recently, Beyonce produced the original song “Be Alive” for the 2021 film King Richard, which in 2022 won a Hollywood Critics Association Award for Best Original Song and received several award nominations, including Best Original Song at the Academy Awards and Golden Globe Awards.

Megan Rapinoe Laid Out Exactly Why Anti-Trans Sports Bans Are Cruel

Megan Rapinoe has been an incredibly influential advocate for equity in sports, recently helping lead U.S. Women’s Soccer toward equal pay. But as the anniversary of Title IX approaches, Rapinoe told Time that the 1972 legislation prohibiting discrimination based on sex in schools hasn’t meant total equity for all student athletes—particularly for transgender young people.

While Rapinoe called Title IX “transformational” legislation, she also noted that it likely has the same blindspots that exist in society. 

“I’m sure there’s a racial blind spot. I’m sure there’s an LGBTQ blind spot. I’m sure there’s an immigrant blind spot, all of that,” she said. “Title IX is also charged with handling sexual assault and rape on college campuses. We know that that is continuing to be rampant and underreported.”

As states across the country propose and pass legislation barring transgender students from school sports, Rapinoe said these laws aren’t about athletics, they’re about people’s lives.

“I think people also need to understand that sports is not the most important thing in life, right? Life is the most important thing in life. And so much of this trans inclusion argument has been put through the extremely tiny lens of elite sports,” she said. “Like that is not the way that we need to be framing this question. We’re talking about kids. We’re talking about people’s lives.”

Currently, 18 states ban transgender girls and women from sports teams that align with their gender, according to NBC News.

“[Trans youth] are [dying by] suicide, because they are being told that they’re gross and different and evil and sinful and they can’t play sports with their friends that they grew up with,” Rapinoe said. “Not to mention trying to take away health care. I think it’s monstrous.”

According to the Trevor Project’s 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, 45% of the nearly 34,000 LGBTQ youth surveyed said they seriously considered suicide in the past year. While there’s no one reason anyone considers suicide, the survey showed that trans and nonbinary youth who were supported were less likely to have suicidal ideation. And, the report found that anti-trans legislation has influenced young LGBTQ people’s mental health. Of the transgender and nonbinary youth surveyed, 83% said they’ve worried about trans people being denied the ability to play sports because of anti-trans legislation. 

“Recent political attacks aimed at transgender and nonbinary youth have not only threatened their access to health care, support systems, and affirming spaces at school, they’ve also negatively impacted their mental health,” Jonah DeChants, a research scientist at The Trevor Project said in the report.

Rapinoe also pointed out that banning trans students from sports teams isn’t based on evidence. While legislators say these laws are to protect the integrity of athletics, Rapinoe said inclusion doesn’t threaten integrity.

“Show me the evidence that trans women are taking everyone’s scholarships, are dominating in every sport, are winning every title. I’m sorry, it’s just not happening,” she said. 

Khloé Kardashian Is Reportedly Dating a Private Equity Investor Kim Introduced Her To

Khloé Kardashian insists that she’s focused on herself after once again breaking up with Tristan Thompson last year, but rumors are swirling that the reality star already has a brand new man in her life.

The Good American founder is dating a private equity investor she met through her sister Kim Kardashian, according to a source who spoke to Page Six. They were introduced at a dinner party a few weeks ago and immediately hit it off. People also reported the news on Monday with an insider explaining that while things between them are “still in the early stages,” she’s “feeling really good” about it. They also noted that despite those photos of Khloé and her ex Thompson arm-in-arm after their daughter True’s dance recital over the weekend, the two hardly ever speak except for when it comes to issues surrounding co-parenting.

And although there’s plenty of sources confirming her new relationship, Khloé says she’s still enjoying being single for the present moment. On Friday, she responded to an Instagram post on the Kardashian Social account highlighting a Deuxmoi rumor that claimed she has been dating “another NBA player.” The reality star commented, “Definitely NOT True!!! I love you! Thank you for the nice wishes but I am not seeing a soul. I am happy focusing on my daughter and myself for a while.”

In December, Thompson was sued for child support by personal trainer Maralee Nichols as she claimed that their months-long sexual relationship had resulted in the conception of a baby boy named Theo, who was born earlier that month. The basketball player’s infidelity and paternity drama was also featured on the season finale of The Kardashians on Hulu. After watching those events play out on screen, Khloé Kardashian said during a Disney FYC screening and Q&A event last week, “It’s not easy, but it’s also, I think, a form of therapy for me at the same time. And I like to see how the rest of my family responds to things. Those little things mean a lot to me, and I like to see that stuff, just how the whole family—not about this situation, but any situation—how we all rally around one another in times that are hard for us.”

This article first appeared in Vanity Fair.


These Colorful Beach Bags Are Serving Peak Summer Vibes

No look is complete without the right accessories, and the best beach bags can be the perfect finishing to a cute summer outfit. The appeal for schlepping stuff around in an XXL shopper while on vacation is pretty obvious (hello, souvenirs), but the good news is this warm-weather staple doesn’t have to be a holiday exclusive. From embroidered wicker baskets to candy cane-stripe totes, there are plenty of statement options available for day-to-night wear—and right now is the best time to incorporate one into your wardrobe.

Thanks to the beach bag’s versatile and effortless nature, you can dress it up or down for any kind of summer activity—lakeside getaways, farmer’s market trips, and sunny picnic hangs included. Blame it on the inescapable sense of optimism in the air, but it should come as no surprise that we’re drawn to styles that favor bright colors and playful textiles to tie our looks together. Think large mesh beach bags to bring to poolside hangs, beaded crossbodies to house SPF (and SPF only), and fishnet numbers to galavant around town with a bouquet of fresh flowers

Summertime adventures await, and they would all be incomplete with one of the best beach bags. Shop 17 of our must-have picks below.  

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