Written by Frida Silva.
Graphic by Peyton Cabaniss.
There’s an ongoing joke in the lesbian community that Hozier is actually possessed by an ancient lesbian spirit, and that’s why his songs sound the way that they do. I, for one, strongly agree. I’m not saying a straight man isn’t capable of expressing such a profound, almost sacred, love and admiration for women, but as far as romance goes, the music Hozier creates is a very accurate representation of the lesbian experience. Desire, constraint, yearning, and destruction are all strong themes among Hozier’s love ballads, and they’re also all fundamental aspects of what it’s like being a woman who loves other women. Again, not that these emotions aren’t found in other relationships, but the love between two women is inherently different, and hearing his music through that lens makes the way Hozier addresses these themes more than just dramatized versions of common relationship problems.
Take “Foreigner’s God” for example. For many queer women, shame and condemnation are inevitable parts of not only coming to terms with their sexuality, but with openly expressing it as well. While the lyrics “All that I’ve been taught/ And every word I’ve got/ Is foreign to me” simply represent a metaphor to many, lesbians (especially those first coming to terms with their sexuality), identify with these lyrics in a deeper and more literal sense. Existing in a heteronormative society, the possibility of being anything but straight doesn’t exist for many women until after they feel like they’ve established their identity. Queer women raised in religious households in particular find that these lyrics perfectly represent their experience, as their sexuality goes in total opposition of what they’ve been taught their entire lives. On the other hand, the song also includes the lyrics “She moved with shameless wonder/ The perfect creature rarely seen…But my heart is heavy/ With the hate of some other man’s beliefs”, which reflects that even after fully accepting and embracing their sexuality, it’s impossible for women to ignore the emotional toll that homophobia takes.
Looking at Hozier’s work with a broader perspective, the way he always seems to speak of his lovers with a sense of sacred reverence and awe is another aspect of why lesbians identify with his music. While most songs by men (which, when it comes to songs about attraction to women, is pretty much all there is) talk about women in dehumanizing and sexualized ways, Hozier speaks of women in a way that nears worship. Internalizing the predatory male gaze is an unfortunate experience most queer women deal with that often make them feel vulgar. In the process of unlearning those norms, Hozier’s lyrics offer a way to talk about desiring women in both a romantic and sexual way that doesn’t feel invasive or offensive. In “Moment’s Silence” Hozier embeds religion in a way that compares oral sex to something akin to the moment of silence during a prayer. It’s turned into a holy experience, completely removing any sense of unwanted imposition and replacing it with the feeling of holy deliverance.
As a queer woman, when your love for another woman is constantly being reduced to sexualized fantasies or unforgivable sin, it’s soothing to find music that validates your love and focuses on the tender and beautiful side of it in a way that is specific to queer relationships. It’s hard to imagine that a straight man would be able to put all of these feelings and common queer experiences into words, and yet somehow Hozier manages to do just that, rightfully earning himself the title of an “icon” within the lesbian community.
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