It can be hard to be gay in 2018, but queerness no longer carries the stigma it once did. For proof, look no further than Miami Beach Gay Pride, a week of events celebrating the LGBTQ+ community. More than 130,000 supporters are expected to flood the streets with rainbow flags, face paint, and exquisite drag at the tenth-annual parade this Sunday, April 8.
Although Miami native Gaby Guerrero, AKA Native Youth, will miss this year’s parade, the subtle lesbian wordplay in her alternative R&B music doesn't go unnoticed.
“I didn’t come to the conclusion that I was gay until my senior year of high school,” Guerrero says. “My friends would joke around and tell me I liked girls all the time, but I didn’t want to believe it. By the time I accepted it, it wasn’t a surprise to them.”
Guerrero’s mother, on the other hand, wasn’t pleased. “My mom asked if I was gay in the drive-thru to Taco Bell. I screamed "Yes!" and was exiled to my dad’s the next day,” she recalls. Because she wasn’t allowed to see her girlfriend, Guerrero just kept to herself for a while, but her coming out and sexuality ultimately played a role in her music.
Though coming out to her mom was difficult, expressing her sexuality in her music was easy. She often writes moody, alternative R&B tunes about ex-girlfriends and current fantasies. “I’m not a flamboyant person,” she says, “but I write what comes natural for me. I write almost as if it’s still taboo.”
In music by straight artists, the lyrics can get pretty raunchy. Lyrics from Florida’s Plies can cause you to turn the music down low in case your mom hears it. But in Guerrero’s homoerotic flow, it’s just enough to take you there, but quietly.
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“It’s not too sexuality explicit, but it’s in there,” she says of her lyrics. “Lay Me Down,” her first solo release of the year, captures Guerrero's current relationship with adult actress Abella Danger: "Working on your legs/Tracing down your spine/Melting into you/While I'm in between your thighs/Feel your hands on me/Turn you on your back/Bring you on your knees/While I'm grippin' on your ass."
“What I write is what I know,” Guerrero says. “I don’t want to be a lesbian singer. I just want to make music.”
Though being labeled a lesbian singer isn’t ideal, mainstream artists Kehlani, Katy Perry, and Hayley Kiyoko flaunt their sensuality in their lyrics and never take negative feedback to heart. Guerrero isn’t shy about being open about her sexual fantasies, but she knows it isn’t always easy.
“Just do what feels good and comfortable,” she says. “Use your writing skills and let it flow. Your music can only be a true reflection of you and your experiences.”