Hayley Kiyoko in one of her videos | Photo: YouTube/Hayley Kiyoko
Lesbian artist Hayley Kiyoko spoke to Paper magazine about her experience as an out artist, crushing on girls growing up, and supporting other women.
Kiyoko always knew who she was.
Growing up, she said her top three passions were ‘performing, food, and girls’.
‘Everything I did in my life was because of girls,’ she revealed. ‘I became a dancer not only because I loved dancing, but because the girls at the dance conventions were so hot.
‘I don’t know what it was, but I just loved being around beautiful strong women. That made me feel really good, and comfortable in my skin, even though I wasn’t out.’
She even joined school council in both middle and high school ‘to be friends with all the cute girls’.
Kiyoko never pursued any relationships with them and only dreamt of being able to express that as a performer.
‘I always thought I’d use “you” and “they”. It wasn’t my dream to be on stage singing about girls, using “she”, and being free. That, to me, was never an option,’ she admitted.
Times have changed
Then she discovered Tegan and Sara, who Kiyoko said became an inspiration and models for her.
In 2008, when Kiyoko was 17, Katy Perry’s single I Kissed a Girl came out. It changed everything for her.
‘When it came out, it was the first time I’d heard anyone in the public eye admit that they’d kissed a girl on the radio. I was like, “wow, this is huge”. Just to admit that she did kiss a girl, and she liked it?’ she said.
‘Selfishly, I remember thinking the next time they hear that, it’s going to be me.’
Now it is. She’s entirely open and out in her music, explicitly using she/her pronouns and featuring women in her videos.
Her most recent video co-starred Kehlani and depicted the two of them as lovers. A big part of the video, Kiyoko said, was supporting other women and specifically women of color.
‘It’s amazing to be able to support women of color, as artists out here. Not only to support their art, but in their ability to be themselves. I love Kehlani from the bottom of my heart.’