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Still riding high on the success of her debut album, Expectations, out queer singer Hayley Kiyoko won a 2018 MTV Video Music Award for Push Artist of The Year (she was also up for the coveted Best New Artist category but lost it to Cardi B). Kiyoko's hardcore fans dubbed her the "lesbian Jesus," long before this win proved to everyone else that Kiyoko can practically walk on water.
The Asian-American actress and singer is exactly the kind of musician that girls (and women) needed in 2018. Kiyoko's self-directed music videos (viewed over 160 million times) are supremely visual, expressly fun, and queer AF; but more importantly, they reveal the musician as a young out woman who needs no validation from the rest of the world.
But she's getting it anyway.
Earlier this year, Taylor Swift, the undisputed queen of pop music, brought Kiyoko out as a surprise guest on her Reputation World Tour. The two performed a duet of Kiyoko's song, "Curious," about her crush on another woman. The crowd went wild.
Kiyoko's year of successes has included sold-out shows, a Coachella debut, a nationwide arena tour with Panic! At the Disco, covers of magazines like Nylon and Paper, and a late-night TV debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live!
On stage she's often draped in a rainbow flag like a cape, like a queer superhero of color. She's reclaiming the rainbow, she says, after once being told not to wear the bright colors because doing so was "too gay." She hopes to embolden her fans to embrace their own sexuality, race, and gender.
Kiyoko tells The Advocate she's thrilled to be succeeding in the industry as an Asian-American queer woman because as a kid, "I never saw anyone like me. I thought I couldn't be on TV or be a [pop star] because of it."
Now she's leading others like her into the promised land.