I often think that the earliest sign of how my gender would eventually unfold was my taste in music. From the earliest I gravitated to pop music performed by women, and even as I grew older and this fondness became tinged with new feelings about the singers’ exposed skin and shapely bodies, there was something there that my male peers didn’t share. My autism aimed me at euphonious, smooth sounds and clear vocals that ruled out the harsher forms many of my peers preferred, but that wasn’t it, either. Before I knew what that meant or why, I could tell, they spoke my language. It was more than titillation, sensory needs, or aesthetics that drew me. The songs were about love and relationships and feelings, and all of them were expressed in magnificently feminine terms, and that made them real in ways that the male-led songs I gravitated toward in adolescence never managed to be.
I learned to be ashamed of this fondness, keeping it hidden. I’d gotten enough odd looks and dismissive noises to know that this was, at best, a child’s fancy best discarded, and more likely, something that contributed to the tumultuous awfulness of my adolescence. I forced myself to appreciate music led by men. I succeeded, but I never gave up on my old favorite sounds.
The future vindicated me.
So here’s a playlist pulling some of my favorite songs, themes, rhythms, and artists together into a single story. The romance starts with the dream of turning a close friendship into something more (1, 2, 3). Cute and effusive declarations of affection fill the space between (4, 5). Traumatic events create a need for emotional support and temporary separation (6, 7, 8). The subjects pine for what they are missing in each other’s absence (9, 10). They reunite in quiet privacy with tender declarations that they’ll be there for each other no matter how dark it gets (11, 12) and that neither one’s trauma can make the other love them less (13).
Some of the story is in English, other parts in Spanish. Some has men’s voices, most is women’s. And all of it is what I look forward to in music. May you know me better this way.
- Imogen Heap – “Goodnight and Go”
- Tristan Prettyman – “Shy That Way”
- The Veronicas – “4Ever”
- Colbie Caillat – “Bubbly”
- Cristián Castro – “Azul”
- Steven Universe – “Here Comes a Thought”
- VNV Nation – “Illusion”
- Leigh Nash – “Ocean Size Love”
- Vanessa Carleton – “A Thousand Miles”
- The Hush Sound – “Don’t Wake Me Up”
- Cori Yarckin – “Together We’ll Make a Promise”
- Saybia – “It’s OK Love”
- Keane – “Somewhere Only We Know”
- Chichi Peralta – “Amor Narcótico”