The Trevor Project has given an award to Katy Perry. Yes, you read that correctly. The Trevor Project, the organization whose aim is to prevent LGBTQ youth suicide, is giving an award to Katy Perry to honor her for “inspiring LGBTQ youth to find their spark through her video ‘Firework’” and ”increasing visibility and understanding of the LGBTQ community.”
I wonder which acts of visibility and understanding they’re referring to exactly. Was it the time she made heaps of money for celebrating the stereotype that girls kissing girls is an act done for attention? You know, the song Kathleen Hanna called “straight-up offensive,” P!nk said “trivializes lesbianism” and Beth Ditto noted was indicative of Perry ”just riding on the backs of our culture, without having to pay any of the dues and not being actually lesbian or anything at all”?
Or was it the time she peppered a song with effeminate gay male stereotypes so she could insult an ex-boyfriend, equating queerness with negativity and encouraging bullying against gay people? Did the fact that she opened that song with the lines “I hope you hang yourself with your H&M scarf /While jacking off listening to Mozart” really seal the deal for a LGBTQ youth suicide prevention group?
Maybe it was the time she talked about looking like a “tranny” in Rolling Stone? Or when she mocked trans* people on twitter, inspiring a condemnation from GLAAD? Those don’t seem like moments when queer visibility was improved, nor were they stellar examples of helping other to “understand” our community any better. Those seem like moments when some homophobia slipped through the cracks, and no one listened when queers called it out. After all, Perry herself has declared that “certain parts of the world — especially in the U.S. — are just dying to be offended” and that it “won’t change how I express myself as an artist.”
Being pissed off at Katy Perry isn’t anything new for the queer community, which is why it seems strange for us to be giving her some kind of award, although it’s certainly not the first time we’ve been baffled by Perry’s inclusion and celebration in a queer space. In 2008, Perry made the cover of the OUT 100, earning the coveted honor of “Musician of the Year,” inspiring lesbian entertainment blogger Dorothy Snarker to ask OUT, “What the fuck? Katy Perry? Katy fucking Perry? This is a joke, right? What you meant to do was pick an actual lesbian to pose amid the gay men, right? Right?”