If you’re anything like me, you’ve been watching Chappell Roan explode in popularity this summer and cannot stop humming her songs and singing under your breath. If you haven’t yet heard her music, it is not too late to join the fun! Chappell Roan, a queer artist and drag queen, has taken over the charts in recent months with her album The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess and new single “Good Luck, Babe.” Although professionally known as her Chappell Roan drag persona, Kayleigh Rose Amstutz is originally from a small town in Missouri. She has been praised for her representation of Midwest and rural queer communities who are often left out of broader dialogues within the LGBTQIA+ community. She is also a lesbian and weaves themes of sexual orientation and gender expression in her brilliantly constructed lyrics. She has been highly esteemed for her meteoric rise to fame, matched with simultaneous advocacy for her LGBTQIA+ community and celebration of sex and pleasure. By taking a look at some lyrics and quotes, Chappell Roan’s contributions to destigmatizing gender expression, sexuality, and pleasure, and their impact on overarching sexual health, cannot be understated. Let’s dive in together.

“I heard you like magic, I got a wand and a rabbit! So baby let’s get freaky, get kinky, let’s make this bed get squeaky” from “Red Wine Supernova”

Chappell Roan breaks societal standards by embracing sexual pleasure through discussion of sex toys in this lyric. Discussing sex in music might not be a new phenomenon, but focusing on the pleasure of vulva-owners and the queer experience is excitingly new (not to mention the kink-positivity!). A recent survey of around 1,700 participants found that 68% of adults in the U.S. have either bought or used a sex toy at least once in their lifetime. With such prevalence, increased normalization and dialogue surrounding sex toys is a huge step in the right direction of destigmatizing pleasure and furthering sexual freedom for all.

“Won’t make my mama proud, it’s gonna cause a scene. She sees her baby girl, I know she’s gonna scream…”God, what have you done? You’re a pink pony girl and you dance at the club.” “Oh mama, I’m just having fun on the stage in my heels, it’s where I belong.”” -from “Pink Pony Club”

One of her most beloved songs, “Pink Pony Club” lyrically reflects on the familial shame often projected onto queer folks in conservative environments while also celebrating the acceptance and joy felt when being one’s true self. This lyric specifically portrays a conversation between a mother who is struggling with religious shame, anger, and disappointment, and her daughter, who wants to be a dancer at the local “Pink Pony Club.” Despite the potential heaviness of this subject, Chappell Roan is able to evoke joy and confidence by focusing on pride throughout the themes of the song (and album as a whole).

“You’d have to stop the world just to stop the feeling” -from “Good Luck, Babe”

Throughout her billboard hit “Good Luck, Babe”’ Chappell Roan sings about a woman coming to terms with her queerness (and the corresponding struggle) as well as the impact this can have on one’s intimate relationships. When asked about the inspiration for the song she stated that it is about a woman in “a secret relationship with a woman from her past and the struggle with compulsory heterosexuality.” Many queer folks experience “compulsory heterosexuality,” or the feeling of being obligated to conform to heterosexual societal norms. The discussion of these nuanced but familiar relationship dynamics, and their potential damage to yourself and others, allows for increased feelings of validation and acceptance among Chappell Roan’s audiences. This lyric specifically provides an example of an internal thought process associated with accepting one’s queer identity.

“Growing up, thinking being gay was a choice, cast a shell over my heart that could only be broken by your joy and grace towards my scared and confused 18 year old self who thought maybe liking girls wasn’t just a phase anymore….and I was rewarded by the queer community taking me under your wing and nursing me to a happiness I’ve never felt before” -Chappell Roan during an interview

During this interview, Chappell Roan generously reflected on her experiences growing up without acceptance of her identity, or queerness in general. This is unfortunately a very common experience, especially in certain religious and/or geographic communities. Providing an example of her emotional process, as well as her experiences coming to terms with her sexuality, might offer a pillar of hope for many queer folks who have not yet found themselves and/or their community. The ability to enthusiastically embrace her identity and sexuality is a wonderful example of her impact on destigmatizing pleasure and encouraging pride.

“I kinda wanna kiss your girlfriend if you don’t mind” -from “After Midnight”

In addition to exploring gender expression and sexual orientation, this lyric is a wonderful example of also normalizing non-traditional relationship structures. Here, we see Chappell Roan modeling ethical non-monogamy dialogue related to physical touch. Although not inherently sexual in nature, ethical non monogamy is rarely spotlighted in a positive manner in art or mainstream media. By including a lyric where a narrator is asking permission to kiss another person’s romantic partner, ethical non monogamy is beautifully illustrated with themes of pleasure, personal freedom, and consent.

“I heard that there’s a special place, where boys and girls can all be queens every single day.” -from “Pink Pony Club”

“Pink Pony Club ” not only normalizes a strained family relationship due to one’s identity and gender expression, but also reflects on the fantasization of acceptance. When surrounded by a lack of acceptance of your identity or relationship, it is easy to forget that such freedom exists. Feelings of loneliness, isolation, and shame are echoed in this lyric, paired with a sense of hope. The encouragement to maintain hope for an accepting community offers a lifeline to many queer individuals who may never have experienced this (yet…).
“You said “baby no attachment,” but we’re knee deep in the passenger seat and you’re eating me out…is it casual now?” -from “Casual”
The focus on vulva-owner pleasure in this lyric is a welcomed change of pace compared to what is normally reflected in music. In addition to validating sexual pleasure, Chappell Roan provides a concrete representation of lesbian relationships. It is rather rare to see such celebration and expression of queer relationships on the Top 100–a refreshing example of cultural progress. Further, by introducing the concept of attachments, Chappell Roan is also contributing to the normalization of different types of attachment styles and dynamics within sexual relationships.

“The appreciation doesn’t fit into my vocabulary. The best I can do is offer you my project, my songs, my tears, & my eternal love for queerness” -a quote by Chappell Roan from a statement to celebrate Pride

Let’s take a moment to talk about the word “queer.” It probably is not new information for you that “queer” has historically been a derogatory word, used to refer to “homosexual” individuals. However, many people in the gay community began to reclaim the word as a celebration of pride and power, and it stuck. Chappell Roan’s intentional addressing of “queerness” is a phenomenal reminder of the history endured, and celebrated, by the wide range of folks within the LGBTQIA+, or queer, community. She clearly expresses devotion to her community in this statement, often empowering those who she represents.

Why do sex positivity and pride matter?

At the end of the day, pride and sexual health are both about inherent human rights. It is an unfortunate reality that folks who identify outside what is considered to be “the norm” still experience hate and violence in many settings. Celebrating pride for who you are is a powerful opportunity to challenge exclusion and reclaim the beauty of your identity. Let’s not forget that pride celebrations originate from protests and revolutionary action. Chappell Roan is an exemplary queer role model who embodies everything pride is about; joy and vulnerability. By embracing every part of herself, she demonstrates empowerment and hopefully inspires others, the way she has empowered me, to feel empowered with their own identities. Her ability to increase awareness of Dr. Douglas Braun-Harvey’s six primary principles of sexual health (protection from HIV/STIs/unwanted pregnancy, consent, non-exploitation, pleasure, shared values, and honesty) is truly inspiring. The many quotes outlined earlier are wonderful examples of these principles in action. The popularization of Chappell Roan’s music has a real potential to further the de-stigmatization of sex, advancing overall sexual health. Now that you have a deeper understanding of her impact, turn the volume up to “Femininonenon” in the name of sex positivity and pride.

If you resonate with feelings of sexual shame, isolation, or a lack of acceptance of your true self, you might benefit from sex therapy services. Feel free to reach out to one of our clinicians to get the support and validation you deserve.