Perfume Genius’ “Queen” Is the Gay Anthem of the Year

Expanding the LGBTQ Conversation
July 17 2014 2:51 PM

Perfume Genius’ “Queen” Is the Gay Anthem of the Year

Perfume Genius’ “Queen” retaliates against “gay panic,” and it’s excellent.

Still from YouTube

Seattle-based pop artist Mike Hadreas has released two jarring, gentle albums under the moniker Perfume Genius.* But for his latest single, “Queen,” which comes from the just-announced third album Too Bright, he’s packing a much louder punch. And, in doing so, he may have just created the year’s best gay anthem. “Queen” is a majestic, psychedelic sonic kaleidoscope that handles insults often hurled at gay people—“heathen,” “riddled with disease,” “cracked”—with the best retaliation: confidence. 

Hadreas has said the song is a defiant response to experiencing what he calls “gay panic.” “Sometimes I see faces of blank fear when I walk by,” he explained in a press release. “If these fucking people want to give me some power—if they see me as some sea witch with penis tentacles that are always prodding and poking and seeking to convert the muggles—well, here she comes.”  The video for “Queen,” directed by Cody Critcheloe, evokes the song’s brazen, celebratory spirit with a surrealist Rocky Horror Picture Show-like world in which Hadreas remixes various queer tropes and fantasies including gender hacking, hustling, and forcing straight-laced businessmen to get into his look.


And unlike Arcade Fire’s “We Exist,” another video intended to empower the LGBTQ community, Hadreas’ authenticity as an out gay man strengthens both the song and video’s meaning for its audience. Because, ultimately, a line like “No family is safe when I sashay” just doesn’t have quite the same effect coming from a straight, cisgender artist like Win Butler. Too Bright comes out Sept. 22, and, if “Queen” is any indication, it’ll be well worth your time.

*Correction, July 17, 2014: This post originally misspelled Mike Hadreas' last name.

Dee Lockett is Slate's editorial assistant for culture.



Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

The Congressional Republican Digging Through Scientists’ Grant Proposals

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Whole Foods Is Desperate for Customers to Feel Warm and Fuzzy Again

The XX Factor

I’m 25. I Have $250.03.

My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I’m 25. I Have $250.03. My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

George Tiller’s Murderer Threatens Another Abortion Provider, Claims Free Speech

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 21 2014 3:13 PM Why Countries Make Human Rights Pledges They Have No Intention of Honoring
Oct. 21 2014 4:33 PM Walmart Is Killing the Rest of Corporate America in Solar Power Adoption
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 1:47 PM The Best Way to Fry an Egg
Oct. 21 2014 5:38 PM Justified Paranoia Citizenfour offers a look into the mind of Edward Snowden.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.