For the past five years, the members of the pop synth band MUNA, who toured with Harry Styles on his first solo run, identified as queer. They’ve deliberately avoided being more specific about their identities, going so far as to omit pronouns from their lyrics and insist on the most inclusive of terms in interviews. As recently as March, MUNA’s Twitter bio solely promoted the band’s newest album; then several months into the Covid-19 pandemic, it was updated to read, “we are gay and a band.”
With the U.S. Supreme Court legalizing gay marriage in 2015 and, more recently, ruling that transgender people are federally protected from discrimination, coming out as not straight or not identifying with one’s gender at birth comes with less risk than it used to. Many have taken advantage of newfound security to live openly outside of the handful of urban centers that once served as havens for gay people across the country. Such a mainstreaming of queerness in American life rearranged people’s personal lives, to a point where solely queer spaces could be more supplemental than essential. But as the world went into lockdown and such spaces were suddenly taken away entirely, people were reminded of the vital role they still played.
During the pandemic, clubs and community centers and arts venues shuttered, cutting off folks from what queer connectivity remained. And yet the part of people’s identities defined by their relationships with others clawed at the surface. Tending to it felt both familiar and productive, as many queer people were reminded of how bad it felt to be alone. It was time to get creative.
Demonstrating the power of connection, queerness has reemerged as a balm for quarantine.
As a means of surviving both social isolation and the final year of the Trump administration, art projects, virtual event debuts, and music releases proliferated, taking cues from times throughout history when sexuality has come under attack. Demonstrating the power of connection — this time in…