October 20th is recognized annually as International Pronouns Day. This day was created to make the respect, sharing, and usage of pronouns commonplace. Pronouns should never be assumed by the way a person presents.
There are many ways to include pronouns in your everyday communication habits. Share your pronouns when you introduce yourself, on your social profiles, or in your email signature. This creates a safe space and encourages others to do the same. If you are unsure of someone’s pronouns, just ask!
We spoke with a few LGBTQIA+ artists about their gender identity and how pronouns play a role in their music. Read on to hear from Dani Ride, MALEE, and PRONOUN on their experiences, below:
First off, what are your pronouns?
MALLE: My most commonly used pronoun is he/him, and though I’m ok with people calling me that pronoun, I feel that I am so much more. I have a hyper-feminine side/”persona” that I’m getting more comfortable expressing. My friends and I often call each other she/her, so you can call me what you want!
Dani Ride: My pronouns are they/them or he/him. Or in Spanish: él or elle
Tell us about your journey with your identity.
M: Where to start… I feel like I’m a new person every day! That sure has come to play with my creative process of realizing who I am as a musician and in my style expression. At first, I was confused by it, but now, the more I’ve gotten to know myself, I’ve accepted it and learned to love and embrace my versatility!
D: It was a journey, of course. A difficult journey. My parents told me I was born a boy. I always felt that I wasn’t a boy or even a girl. I felt that non-binary vibe even when that concept didn’t exist in my life. So, when I came out, I met, for the first time, the LGBTQIA+ community and there I heard two concepts that blew my mind: intersexuality and non-binary. This year my parents told me that I was born intersexual, and now I embrace my intersexuality and non-binary identity and expression.
How does your identity play a role in your music? Do pronouns play a large role in your writing?
M: I’m glad you asked! During the past year while working in the studio, I’ve been coming up with a hyper-masculine and a hyper-feminine alter ego. I have been playing with the two and mixing them in my new songs. Pronouns do not play a big role in my songs, but if it rhymes with the words I’m bouncing off of, I’ll definitely put it in the song. Since I feel connected and enjoy both masculine and feminine energy, it is easier for me not to have rules when it comes to pronouns while writing lyrics.
D: In my new album Drama Pop I decided to honor myself and my identity. All my life people made me embarrassed or afraid of being myself and now I want to break that fear and break those rules and sing about my power, my pride, my love, my sexuality, my decisions and even my love stories. And of course pronouns play an important role in my music. When I sing about love I sing about men, when I sing about power, I sing for them. In Spanish we don’t have that pronoun so when we talk about a group of people we can’t use a neutral pronoun because it doesn’t exist. But Spanish speaking feminists invented the pronoun “elle” which is like “them.” I use that in my music as an act of love, revel and fight.
The conversation around gender identity and expression has evolved greatly in recent years. What have you learned or what do you continue to learn about gender?
P: That it’s so, so fluid! It was a fairly quick realization that everyone has pronouns they use/identify with; even though I was AFAB (assigned female at birth), I still have my own pronouns which are she/her.
How would you describe the difference between your own gender identity and your gender expression?
M: When it comes to me, I don’t really think there’s any difference. I don’t put that much of a thought into it anymore. If I wake up feeling feminine, I’ll be wearing something tight and sexy, and if I happen to drop by the studio, I’ll probably lay down a sassy verse and let my femme alter ego come out. Vice versa, if I wake up feeling a more boyish energy.
Do you have any new music in the works?
D: Yes! And I’m so happy about that. I have my third album, Drama Pop. And it’s to pay homage to my birth, to my childhood, to my adolescence. But not only mine because we have so many people who suffer from similar things. There are so many people who have felt guilty for being born as they’re born or for expressing themselves or for loving as they love.
M: I’ve been putting down all my free time and energy in the studio for the past two years, so the answer is yes. I got plenty!
Did you have any non-binary or gender non-conforming role models growing up?
P: I did not! I honestly didn’t even know about queerness in general until I was in my late teens, how the times have hopefully continued to change and awareness/education continues to grow.
M: Yes, of course! I live for all the pop divas, but my biggest role models have to be Prince, David Bowie & RuPaul!
D: No! I was born in a very very very conservative and religious country so on TV, music or in the media we didn’t have any references. I can say some people but they didn’t come out persay: Juan Gabrielle, Cecilia —– . I love them, I love them so much. Their music is such an inspiration for me to this day but I can’t say that I saw people like me on TV or in the music industry.
Would you like to share a few of your favorite non-binary musicians we should check out?
P: Wolfjay, Godford, Hop Along
M: I would love to! Tami Tamaki is someone I was very inspired by growing up. Kim Petras is also so playful and fun. Arca is absolutely stunning as well and is pushing the gender boundaries to the next level. My latest obsession is Drag Race royalty Violet Chachki, who recently released her single ‘Mistress Violet’ along with an iconic music video. Next level polished! I could name so many more, but these are my faves right now.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with your audience of the greater music industry?
D: Yes, of course. This world wasn’t made with us in mind. LGBTQIA+ people and women, this world can make us feel bad and that’s not fair. But now we do have some people listening to us, right now. And if you are listening to me now, I want to tell you that there is nothing bad or wrong with you. You are not a sinner. You are not a mistake. You are amazing and you are human and you have rights. And all the world will understand that one day. We are a lot of people and we are fighting for you and your happiness and your freedom and rights.
If you are an important person in this industry, listen to us! Listen to our music, we have something important to say to the world!
M: If there’s no one like you where you live or in the music industry you’re trying to dive into, don’t be scared to take that place. And yes, some ignorant people might react to it in a bad way. But, you have to remember that expressing yourself with 100% honesty will inspire others to do the same. If you see something that you find interesting and at the same time intimidating, don’t become bitter and jealous! Let yourself get inspired by it and apply it to yourself, but of course, with your own twist.
P: Everyone has [pronouns], never forget that! I feel as though people can be shocked when someone assigned female at birth (or male at birth) present their pronouns as she/her (or he/him). The person often seems to be put off guard as if it’s a bad thing that they didn’t know what the person’s pronouns were just by looking at them. It’s important to normalize the use and respect of people’s pronouns, assumed or not!