Entertainment | March 6th, 2024

Hayley Kiyoko Talks About Her Journey As A Queer Entertainer

By: Micah Barkley
Hayley Kiyoko Talks About Her Journey As A Queer Entertainer

New York Times best-selling author, actress and singer Hayley Kiyoko visited Florida State University campus last night in partnership with the Golden Torch Lecture series, bringing us an evening of laughter, fun and even some tears.

Kiyoko is most notorious for her role on Disney Channel as Stella Yamada in Lemonade Mouth and Velma Dinkley in the live-action Scooby-Doo! Series. When her 2015 music video Girls like Girls was in the works, Kiyoko found it hard to work with production companies because of the “risque” topic of girl-on-girl romance in Hollywood at the time.

“No one wanted to premiere the music video because they deemed it risque, which there really isn’t much risque. It’s just two girls kissing at the end,” she said.“…getting white, cis men to fund your Girls like Girls music video, and convince them that this is the thing to do. So that is the mountain I began to climb, and continue to climb,” she said.


Photo Courtesy: Micah Barkley


Kiyoko then spoke on the cultural shift in media lately, and how being a part of the LGBTQ+ community has been widely accepted in Hollywood. She explained that many companies would pull out of funding her ideas because of the Queer topics discussed in them, but to see artists now being able to act freely and express their true selves in their art is very meaningful.

Fans coined the term “Lesbian Jesus” for Kiyoko because of the doors she has opened for the LGBTQ+ community, whether that is entering the entertainment industry or just understanding their Queer awakening.

“…It’s just so hard to win in that landscape and to have that support… obviously we need that representation, like, Hello,” Kiyoko said. 

Kiyoko’s move into directing her content also gave her the power and creative mobility she needed to express herself as authentically as possible.

“I learned very early on with ‘Girls like Girls’ that I have to direct this because if it’s not coming from my experience, it’s coming from under the male gaze, or it’s coming from someone else’s experience,” she said. 

Kiyoko explained that she only knows her experience for herself, which is the storyline she can share with the world. Being able to direct and create as many stories as possible from her own conscience gave her a sense of belonging and has inspired millions of others on their journey of self-discovery.

Kiyoko’s book, also named Girls like Girls has, since its release, led her to become a New York Times best-selling author. She explained that the music video for the concept was supposed to set the pace for a hopeful view. She went on to explain her high school love stories and its complications, such as falling in love with her best friend and then watching that one-sided love story go to waste, as nothing came out of it.

“It’s inspired by that moment, but I made it hopeful… it’s kind of like reclaiming that experience for myself,” she said. She said that she had a dream she made that idea into a feature film but had an epiphany that it would never happen, which pushed her to create a book out of the situation.

Photo Courtesy: Jordan Forbes

Kiyoko got emotional when looking back at how far she came from her acting days on Disney and Cartoon Network and watching her music career blossom and inspire so many. Seeing the fruition of her hard work brought her to tears as she muttered a simple, “Thank you for everything”.