Lesbian Visibility Week – Lesbian artists to watch out for
26th April- 2nd May is lesbian visibility week, and to celebrate it we’re putting a spotlight on lesbian artists, ranging from musicians to illustrators and writers, who are out and proud. Both fresh faces and staples in their respective industries, these people are creating thought-provoking, groundbreaking or just straight up fun art that is worth having on your radar.
The Japanese House
Amber Mary Bain, whose artist name is The Japanese House, creates magical synth-pop music that transports the listener to a melancholic dreamscape of her own devising. Her androgynous vocals and ambiguous gender expression is refreshing to see, and chaos-inducing to heteronormative media. With one album and a handful of eps out currently, and a constantly evolving style, her next musical steps are something to look forward to.
Angel Olsen is best known for her hit song Shut Up Kiss Me which, after her recent coming out, has become a bit of a gay anthem. I’m in danger of overusing the word “dreamy” in this article, but what other word would best describe the ethereal, instrumental goodness that is Olsen’s music? It’s incredible to see how she executes both emotional, orchestral sounds and upbeat, dynamic rock songs with the same masterful ease.
Her next steps include a box set called Song of the Lark and Other Far Memories, which will be coming out on May 7th. It includes both older albums and a new LP that I’m sure will be worth a listen.
Chika is probably the singer on this list to most recently start gaining recognition for her music. Starting off by spitting provocative rhymes on social media that made her viral, Chika is a rapper that combines fresh, interesting beats with an incredible flow and thoughtful lyrics. Her first album, Industry Games, is an obvious jab at the music industry, and a must-listen. I’m very interested in seeing how Chika’s music progresses as she grows into her musician identity.
Noelle Stevenson is the animation producer you wish your shows had when you were a kid. Mostly known for their comics Nimona and Lumberjanes, Noelle has been a staple in the comic industry for quite a few years. They are also the creator and producer of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, a netflix cartoon series praised for its diversity and focus on lgbtqia+ characters. I’ve personally been a fan of all of Noelle’s projects for a long time, and I would highly suggest checking out She-Ra, as well as some of their more personal comics, like their piece on coming out, posted here.
I recently discovered Ren Strapp’s colorful sapphic work and I was so delighted I couldn’t not include her in this article. Ren Strapp is a butch lesbian comic maker and designer. She creates wonderfully queer, relatable comics and artworks. Especially her comic strip in autostraddle magazine throughout the pandemic depicts our current bleak reality with so much humor and love, it’s hard not to smile while reading it. You can find Ren Strapp’s work on twitter, instagram, or support her on patreon.
Alison Bechdel is probably the most well-known of the names in this list. Even if you don’t know exactly what she does, chances are you’ve heard of the Bechdel Test, a measure of the representation of women in fiction that uses the barest minimum of criteria- at least two women being shown talking to each other about anything other than a man.
Bechdel is actually a cartoonist, and the Bechdel Test is a product of her long-running comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For, one of the earliest representations of lesbians in popular media. Bechdel has also released two graphic memoirs, which are a hard hitting, sometimes poetic but ultimately realistic view of her family life and experiences related to her father’s suicide, her coming out and her relationship with her mother.
I thought it’d be important for a week like this, to focus on lesbian artists that may come from different cultures, have different gender expressions and different levels of fame in their respective fields, but ultimately all create wonderful art that empowers queer people and solidifies our place in popular media. I personally will be looking out for what these artists will be creating next, as well as looking for more to add to my slowly growing list of out and proud creators.
Header photo: https://louderthanwar.com/the-japanese-house-o2-ritz-manchester-live-review/
Photo by Lucy Tibbs