TUNES // Shamir – Straight Boys

Post by Misha

I was going to say that I identify with this song as I, too, frequently find myself surrounded by straight boys who are ruining my life. But this song is not really mine to identify with, and it’s all the more powerful for that.

Says Shamir, “It’s about how frustrating it was for me to have my whole identity picked apart at a young age, just to see straight white men use it as an aesthetic choice.”


The song and accompanying video explicitly addresses whitewashing and queer erasure, how the identifying characteristics of non-white, non-straight pioneers are stripped from their ideology and co-opted by white culture to be donned like a costume. (See also: Coachella, Halloween)

But the song also gets at a slightly more subtle piece, which is that we live in this bizarre, totemic culture where a person can listen to Shamir Bailey’s music and somehow come away thinking that the most salient piece of it to take and internalize is his penchant for chokers and butterfly clips. Not, you know, his honesty, his openness, his truth. It’s a sort of radical idea that perhaps the sincerest form of flattery is in fact genuine, meaningful interaction with the artist’s body of work as a whole, not just the color of their fingernail polish.

Straight Boys is off Shamir‘s forthcoming album, Revelations, his first album since the lovely self-released Hope, and his first release with Father / Daughter Records (Vagabon, Diet Cig, & other favorites). The album is out November 3rd, pre-order here.


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