Hayley Kiyoko On Why Pride Feels Like A Call To Action
Hayley Kiyoko talks Cann’s Pride campaign, being on set with Sarah Michelle Gellar, and her forthcoming album, Panorama.
Every year when June 1 rolls around (or earlier!), Pride marketing begins, and thus, a collective eye roll. Whether it’s the Marines posting a cartoon illustration of a helmet with rainbow bullets, or Uber sending me a notification that says “let’s move with Pride together,” (I chuckled at that one), it often feels like an arms race between brands to get to the most generic and least fun representations of Pride possible.
Which is why Cann’s Pride campaign feels particularly welcome. The company that makes cannabis-infused “social tonic,” that makes you feel as good as the first dozen times you smoked weed, is pulling out all the stops for its Pride campaign, composing and producing a song I’d certainly bop to at the club alongside the queer stars who sing it: Kesha, Vincint, MNEK, and Hayley Kiyoko, who are all clad in rainbow fits the colors of Skittles.
The unbridled queer joy in the video is not dissimilar to Kiyoko’s latest music video “For The Girls,” where she creates a queer version of The Bachelor, for the single off her upcoming album Panorama. It’s not only a nod to her girlfriend, former Bachelor contestant Becca Tilley, but she also makes a cameo.
“The idea for this video was born out of imagining what it would mean to push the boundaries of representation for queer women, specifically in this realm of TV,” she told NYLON over email. “Panorama is incredibly special to me and in many ways feels like a proper debut. With EXPECTATIONS, I was still very much catching up with my past as a queer person, finding my community and figuring out how to live as my most authentic self.”
Kiyoko spoke with NYLON over email about how Pride marketing can be fraught, what Pride means to her this year, and what it was like to be on the Cann set with legends like Sarah Michelle Gellar.
This is such a fun, vibrant campaign. What was it like working with Cann! How did you get involved in the campaign?
I've actually been a fan of the beverage for awhile, they're really yummy and relaxing! Being a queer-owned company, it felt very much like a no-brainer to be involved in the Pride campaign when Cann reached out, and I had an absolute blast being a part of this wild creative.
Pride marketing can be so fraught! What do you like about this campaign?
I think representation beyond the month of Pride is still something that our community is striving for, and it's also really important that we also support LGBTQ-owned brands such as Cann. I love how this campaign is so inclusive of LGBTQ talent as well as incredibly notable allies like Patricia Arquette and Sarah Michelle Gellar. Not to mention how catchy and playful the song is.
Tell me about this music video. What an amazing cast, do you have any fun stories from the experience?
As you can see we were all wearing a lot of latex and tight clothing so you could hear us walking from a mile away! Some of us had known each other prior, or just met that day, but I was so impressed with not only everyone killing it, but the love on set. Our director Jake Wilson was amazing at putting all the pieces together for the video and making sure that everyone's individual personalities really shone through.
Can you talk a little bit about what pride means for you this year?
We have so many representations of queerness but it's obviously still difficult and in many places — dangerous — to be queer. I feel like Pride takes on a new meaning year by year. This year, showing our Pride feels even more like a call to action for us and those in support of our community to do everything we can to not let these very real threats to our civil rights keep us from continuing the fight. It's really quite scary to see blatantly discriminatory legislation being passed across this country, so now more than ever is the time to let that passion behind pride be what inspires us to stand up for ourselves.
Let's talk about "For The Girls." I’m obsessed with this idea of queering The Bachelor, a famously straight show! My friends and I always talk about how much better it would be if there was a queer version. Can you tell me more about the concept for that?
I’m a big fan of The Bachelor franchise and reality TV in general, but there are so few real representations of queer experiences in a lot of these shows, especially on mainstream networks. The idea for this video was born out of imagining what it would mean to push the boundaries of representation for queer women, specifically in this realm of TV. Prioritizing an entirely queer cast, aside from my dad who plays the limo driver, and a majority queer crew, was also extremely important to me throughout the process.
You've said your last album felt like you “catching up with yourself.” Can you tell me a little about Panorama and where you’re at emotionally with this one? What does this album mean to you? What does it capture?
Panorama is incredibly special to me and in many ways feels like a proper debut. With EXPECTATIONS, I was still very much catching up with my past as a queer person, finding my community and figuring out how to live as my most authentic self. Panorama captures the journey I’ve been on since releasing EXPECTATIONS, through all the highs and lows, as I’ve navigated relationships and overcome mental and physical health issues. It’s been an incredible experience for me both in creating it and in getting to sit with it afterwards. I can’t wait to share a more refined version of myself within this new body of work next month!
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.