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“I’m 17 and I Make Music for Baby Gays”

Writing by Kaiyah

Growing up, I never felt like I truly belonged anywhere. I never felt like myself wherever I was, and it was rare to feel like there was anybody who truly knew me. I could always tell that something big was missing from my life and that meant I never felt whole.

I started writing songs from the moment I learned to write. I never thought they were any good because I was writing songs about myself, and I didn’t even know who I was. So, my songs became a way of inserting myself into the lives of others and pretending to be this person I didn’t know how to be.

Then, when the world shut down and Melbourne was in very strict lockdowns, my only company was myself. Being alone in your room for two years straight really gives you a lot of time to learn who you are. I taught myself to play guitar and piano and really started writing. I also met my best friend, Ro, online during this time, and for the first time, I felt like someone truly understood me. I started thinking about me and my life and who I wanted to be. Who was I? I actually didn’t know.

Like many kids at this time, I was exposed to the internet and so many things about the world that I’d never seen before became so accessible.

So at 14, I did the age-old thing – I did an “Am I gay?” Buzzfeed quiz.

We all know where that leads. By the time we ask the Internet for these answers, we probably already know.

This exploration made me realise that I had never really felt like myself in my skin because I was told my whole life that I was going to “Break all the boys’ hearts”, but I didn’t want a boy at all. I started to realise that there was more to love and life than what I was told as a child, than what was shown in movies or sung about in songs.

I started my music career and made music at this time also, but I never wrote about my love for women. I wrote about my sadness and confusion and my experience of living a life that felt half-lived, but I never touched my queer identity in my lyrics. I knew that I was gay and had come out to my family and friends, but I wasn’t quite ready to express that so openly to so many people, to the world. Music is intimate but I wasn’t ready to touch that part of my identity.

Over the next two years I felt so incredibly lucky that I made friends with queer people once the world opened back up again. I felt like I had finally found my people, but I was terrified of the person I was becoming. I had no idea how to be someone who didn’t fit the mould, but I knew that I loved the way that the queer people around me made me feel. This started to be reflected in my music also. The songwriting that had held me together and been a therapy and escape for so many years, was also starting to evolve as I did, raw, open and unapologetically me.

In the past year, I have become a completely different person (trust me, my old school photo from last year looks nothing like me at all now), but it’s more than just how I look. I decided to let go of the fear of being seen and just become who I always wanted to be. My true self. I now know that I am who I am, because of the true friends in my life who have loved and supported me for being myself…no conditions.

So, I wear the clothes that make me feel good and have changed my hair and my makeup and my skin. I got piercings and started wearing bold makeup and platform shoes and I have never felt like I belong in my own skin more than I do right now. As a kid, I would stand at the back of rooms and hope that nobody realised I was there because I was terrified to be noticed. It turns out, I just wasn’t in the skin of someone I liked or that felt like me. But I am now and I’m taking centre stage. Never will I be relegated to the back of the room again.

Now, the music I make is gay as hell, and I wear clothes on stage that make me feel great, and I play my songs with my queer bandmates and I love every second of it. I feel so creatively free now that I’m writing songs about me living a life that is real and authentic and truly me.

If you are reading this, I hope you know that your identity is valid no matter what anyone else says. I am grateful every single day to the queer community for giving me a home that makes me feel like I truly belong and that my music is a constant reminder of how important connection is.

Every day, I keep making music for myself and the world.

But I also make music for those finding themselves: from baby gays who are figuring themselves out, all the way to queer people who have been out for years, to those who don’t really know who they are but are on a journey of discovery.

It took me a while to come to terms with myself – a non-binary person attracted to women and non-binary people – but I did it, and you can too.

You get to choose who you are, how you identify, how you express yourself, whatever that may be. You are worthy and loved and special.

Thank you for making me feel worthy, loved, and special too.

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