After four years and two albums of self-deprecating, subdued, and eerily haunting songs, Perfume Genius is back with an oddly queer-empowering anthem. “Queen” subverts the notion of gay effeminacy being aligned with submissiveness. Mike Hadreas, the artist behind Perfume Genius, commands respect and addresses his power in being an “other.” Throughout the song, Hadreas sings, “Don’t you know your queen?” to solidify his control in being the supreme ruler over a heteronormative society.
In a recent blog post, Hadreas discusses being an out, gay, effeminate male in a surrounding straight culture. He compares being singled out by looks and stares as aligned with royalty, stardom, and fame. Everyone knows you and, secretly, everyone wants to be you. “There is some satire to the song obviously, but if we are being real—if these fucking people want to give me some power—if they see me as some sea witch with penis tentacles that are always prodding and poking and looking to convert the Muggles—well here she comes.”
It’s a personal and self-reflective awakening. On his previous works, Hadreas would’ve hid under his “Hood,” or asked someone to “Hold my hand/ I am afraid/ Please pray for me.” But, now, Hadreas is tired of waiting, tired of feeling belittled, and ready to fight back with his royal crown, or tiara, if you will. This newly found edge and self-worth is something that Hadreas has been wanting for a few years now. From 2012’s Put Your Back N 2 It, Hadreas sings “When I can take your hand/ On any crowded street/ And hold you close to me/ With no hesitating,” we feel his pain and his longing to show public affection towards another male without the overwhelming gloom of others around him showing their disgust.
“Queen” is an incredible step forward for Mike Hadreas and his coming-out process, as he leaps into the public sphere, demanding respect. It expands not only his personal barriers, but it opens up a whole new platform full of new directions for him to reach towards musically. At this rate, there is no stopping Hadreas and no way to know where his “sea witch with penis tentacles” will pillage next.