I had the pleasure of discovering the Canadian electronic band Austra back in 2014, when my Introduction to Formal Philosophy” professor introduced us to their haunting, ominous hit “Beat and the Pulse“. I only recently explored the rest of their music, and boy, am I glad I did. As I discovered, Austra‘s lead singer Katie Stelmanis and drummer Maya Postepski are both openly lesbian. They have also discussed in an interview that at least one other member of the band is gay. For Stelmanis, her sexual identity is vastly important in regards to how she creates her music. This led to the band creating the song “Painful Like”, which was dedicated to gay youth in small towns who have to deal upfront with constant discrimination.

(Lyrics courtesy of Song Lyrics)

Hiding in the morning light
You can come here any time
Right past their prying eye
You can come here anytime

In the light I’m falling
Held in the eye of night
Malice keeps calling,
Your palms keep on calming
(You are carried)
(You are carried)

It was in the morning light
Bruised skin on top of mine
(Give me the creeps of painful like)
I held you in my underwear
(Give me the creeps of painful like)
Someone might see, but I don’t care

We don’t have to marry
In the light you bet it all
In this town we’ll bury
All the minds that clench too tight

(You are carried)
(You are carried)

We don’t have to marry
In the light you bet it all
In this town we’ll bury
All the minds that clench too tight

(You are carried) X8

Analysis

Any LGBTQ person who has ever lived, no matter where they come from or on what part of the spectrum they fall on, knows about the judgmental eyes and malice that Katie Stelmanis sings about in “Painful Like”. Those of us who identify as LGBTQ often feel that in order to find happiness, we must do so in the darkness of night, under cover of shadows that hide us from the prying eyes of society, and the malice-filled individuals who would revel at the chance to bring us harm or humiliation.

Should we decide to risk exposing ourselves in open light by publicly coming out and refusing to hide our love any longer, as Katie sings, we effectively “bet it all” and risk vicious persecution.

In this town, we’ll bury all the minds that clench too tight” is a reference to the desire that all LGBTQ youth feel to defeat the petty, prejudiced opposition that we face daily, to not allow close-minded individuals to deny us the happiness we deserve. Each of us long for the calming palms of the lover we ache for, who can help us temporarily ignore the anger-filled malice constantly thrown our way.

This is true for me, just as it is for any other LGBTQ person. I’ve dealt with some incredibly petty homophobic individuals, even at the oh-so-liberal college I attended for 4 years. The malice that I saw there worsened around the time that Trump rose to power, and I have no intention of ignoring the obvious connection there.

And like any other young gay man, I also wish for a guy whose love can help me ignore the ugliness that surrounds LGBTQ youth to this day, and me likewise with him. It’ll happen when the moment is right, and together, along with the rest of the LGBTQ youth in this country, we’ll conquer all forms of prejudice thrown our way, until the day such hatred disappears forever.