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Andrea Gibson's Latest Spoken Word Poem Will Change The Way You Think About Gender

"It isn't that you don't like boys, it's that you only like boys you want to be."

Andrea Gibson's powerful new video for their poem "Your Life" is both a love letter and rallying cry — not only to their former self, but to anyone currently struggling with their own identity.

Andrea Gibson

The piece, which premieres today exclusively on BuzzFeed, comes off Gibson's forthcoming album, Hey Galaxy, out January 12, 2018.

In the video, the poet urges everyone — queer and otherwise — to choose to live a "hard life" that is completely their own over an easy one.

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"I was thinking about the idea of having a hard life and what that means," Gibson, who uses they/them pronouns, told BuzzFeed News in a phone interview. "How having an easy life doesn't necessarily equate to having a better one."

"I went through a period, before writing this, where I was feeling pretty dreamy about the idea of time travel. I was thinking about how comforting and exciting it would have been to be young and have a pep talk from my older self in terms of gender and queerness — the good and the bad of it."

Coco Aramaki

Many of the lyrics reference (very specifically) Gibson's own personal experiences with their gender identity while growing up.

Andrea Gibson

Vignettes like the following, Gibson admits, stem from true stories.

"Your life/
at the prom where you’ll run home in a snowstorm /
chucking your last pair of heels in a snow bank /
realizing you are the only boy you ever wanted to tear your dress off for."

"Mary Levine calls you a dyke /
and you don’t have the language to tell her she is wrong /
and right."

"They're actual personal experiences, though I do change the names at times," Gibson said.


Gibson has identified as many different things over the years — bisexual, lesbian, dyke, queer, genderqueer — and the artist hopes to remind everyone of the influence that language holds over our daily lives — particularly when it comes to gender.

Instagram: @andrewgibby

"Our experience of gender is so influenced by language. When you're writing you're creating all this new language around something. The listener gets to experience gender in a new way."

Gibson, who grew up not feeling quite like a girl or a boy, subtly defines what it means to be genderqueer with visual snippets within the poem. For example, with the line, "You're happiest on the road when you're not here or there, but in between." This particular line came to Gibson while constantly touring the country this past year.

"I remember when someone handed me the word genderqueer. I had never heard that word before. I heard that word and then I knew myself better. That's what writing can do," they explained. "It can make us know ourselves better, and know others better."

Gibson wanted the video to be a collage of different individuals and expressions of gender. The video's diverse cast is actually made up of Gibson's friends, and friends of friends, instead of actors.

"I don't even think of it as casting or actors — they're all friends or friends of friends," explained Gibson of the 'casting' process. "I can't speak for everyone but most of them, I would guess, identify as queer. They knew they would be part of a video celebrating gender expansion in some way."

It was important to Gibson to not only feature a wide array of queer individuals, but to show them "living vibrantly,"

"Vibrantly in spite of society not always embracing that vibrance," they explained.

Gibson hopes that people — queer or otherwise — who watch the video and listen to the poem will feel excited about gender and even live a more "genderful" life.

Instagram: @andrewgibby

"I love the idea of tearing up some of the boxes that we are told we are supposed to fit in," they said. "I love the idea of young, queer people and seeing something that resonates with them. Something that makes their lives more possible."

Gibson described having a "ring of keys moment" (a Fun Home reference, for those not familiar) at the age of eight after they saw a woman with very short hair. "Before I saw her, I didn't know that a person like her could exist. I didn't know that you could look like her, or be like her. As soon as I saw her, my whole world expanded."

This piece, Gibson hopes, will become a similar moment for other queer youth. The power of words and visibility feels more important now than ever to the poet following the election of President Trump.

"I don't think people's minds change very easily, but I think their hearts can change in an instant. That's the value of poetry and spoken word art. Changing people's hearts so their minds follow suit."

So what is Gibson's advice to queer youth? "Seek out people who will celebrate you and love you exactly as you are, and because of who you are. I've never liked the idea of being loved in spite of who we are."

"Keep moving forward with a lot of gentle compassion towards yourself," they concluded.

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