Last week, Abel Tesfaye, better known by his stage name The Weeknd, released a new song with techno artist Gesaffelstein titled “Lost in the Fire.” Many are speculating about to whom the song refers, with rapper Drake and model Bella Hadid (Tesfaye’s former mentor and current girlfriend, respectively) being the most likely contenders. However, there are much bigger concerns when it comes to the song’s subject matter. Nestled in the second verse are some undeniably homophobic lyrics:
You said you might be into girls (Into girls)
You said you’re going through a phase (Through a phase)
Keeping your heart safe (Keeping your heart safe, oh)
Well, baby, you can bring a friend (Bring a friend)
She can ride on top your face (Top your face)
While I f*ck you straight (While I f*ck you straight, yeah)
There are… a lot of problems here, but let’s begin with the assumption that the love interest’s attraction to women is simply a “phase.” That pesky five-letter word seems to have plagued queer people—no matter how they identify—for eternity, as they’re forced to explain over and over to family, to friends, and to the occasional trolls on the internet that their sexuality and/or gender identity is most definitely not a phase. And now that same five-letter word has made its way into pop music, as The Weeknd croons his way through a complete dismissal of the idea that her questioning her sexuality could be anything other than a passing fancy.
— Tone Deaf (@tonedeaf_music) January 13, 2019
There’s also the insinuation that, by dating women, the love interest is “keeping [her] heart safe,” that by no means could she actually, legitimately fall in love with another woman and subsequently get her heart broken. Just like her possible attraction to women is a phase—temporary and not entirely real—so is the idea that a relationship between two women could be just as emotionally and physically fulfilling as a relationship between a man and a woman.
Then, The Weeknd lets his love interest know that she “can bring a friend.” So, her being queer—or at least “into girls”—is suddenly okay because it means he’ll get to benefit via participating in a threesome. Of course. The Weeknd is participating in a disturbing, yet unfortunately all-too-familiar, trend among not just other male artists, but men everywhere, who are only down with women’s queerness when it’s there for them to fulfill their fantasies. But queer women don’t solely exist for straight men to fetishize. And the fact that songs that act like they do are still getting air time is disgraceful.
However, it’s the lyric “while I f*ck you straight” that takes the homophobic cake. This theme, of straight, cisgender men being able to turn queer women straight through the sheer power of what’s between their legs, is not only infuriating but dangerous. It’s no secret that members of the LGBTQ community experience disproportionate rates of sexual assault as well as hate crimes, and that the perpetrators of these crimes are overwhelmingly cisgender males. Bisexual women in particular report higher rates of sexual assault and rape than lesbian and heterosexual women.
— NME (@NME) January 13, 2019
Therefore, it can be absolutely terrifying for a queer woman, however she identifies, to turn down a man, for fear that he’ll suddenly become angry and decide to prove to her just how much of a man he is. The idea of men being able to turn queer women straight is eye-roll-inducing, sure, but it’s also the very real, very scary catalyst behind a staggering number of sexual harassment and assault cases each year. The Weeknd is perpetuating not just tasteless views but ones that could—and do—lead to violence against LGBTQ women.
Also, for the record, Hadid has never spoken publicly about her sexuality. Although some have speculated about a possible relationship between her and fellow model Kendall Jenner, the 22-year-old has not once confirmed that she’s straight or queer. So, if this song is, indeed about her, The Weeknd has effectively outed his girlfriend while completely invalidating her sexuality at the same time—nice! Whether he simply thought his girlfriend’s sexuality would make titillating content for a new song or he wanted to make sure the world knew that Hadid isn’t leaving him and his magic dick for a woman anytime soon, it doesn’t matter. It’s gross; it’s insulting, and it’s definitely not how you treat a partner.
i used to joke that listening to The Weeknd was homophobic but the lyrics from his new song “lost in the fire” are actually fucking vile. in 2019 we’re still doing “fuck you straight” and calling female queerness a “phase?” pic.twitter.com/xDH3fnNrZv
— Jill Gutowitz (@jillboard) January 11, 2019
It’s 2019. Let’s make this the year that we put tired tropes like queerness being just a “phase,” men being down for queer women if it means they get to have sex with them and their friends, and queer women being able to have the queerness ‘dicked right out of them’ to bed.