Breaking the Binary in Music: Gender-Bending and Genre-Bending

Rigel Gemini discusses the intersection of queer identity, race and music. Honoring queer, non-binary and mixed race music artists who are pushing the boundaries of music

By Google Arts & Culture

Author: Rigel Gemini

Rigel Gemini by Cameron Lee Art

As a queer, non-binary, mixed race music artist and creator, I occupy a space of intersectionality. Exploring my creative side as a music artist has revealed the power of the areas of overlap in my own identity. Balancing masculinity, femininity, androgyny, ranging cultural influences, and big queer energy, is the superpower of LGBTQ+ BIPOC artists. We are the glue between genres and the untapped space in between music charts.

Growing up, I spent a lot of time forming my own identity by exploring what’s out there. I have written a whole blog post on my own personal blog about the common question “why are queer people creative?” 

Rigel Gemini by Cameron Lee Art

We are creative because we create ourselves and invent our own way of being based on what feels right and what influences us, often by blending things that might seem opposing.

We literally create ourselves in a space between different boundaries, in a space that did not exist before. This process of creation applies to music as well: songwriting, performance, and the stories we tell around our musical expression.

Rigel Gemini by Cameron Lee Art

I started exploring music for the first time in the last year, and previously I had focused on content creation in the fashion and LGBTQ+ space. The songwriting process has been a journey of unleashing my own emotions and introspectively exploring who I am and how I present myself. This means my songs came from my own identity, emphasizing upbeat and fun moments, while playfully balancing on the boundaries of genres and gender – always with attitude and energy. 

In one of my new songs, “Too Much”, I open with “Here’s the story of a girl, or a boy, or a they/them who’s always been told that they’re too much” – this opening really means a lot to me because it’s how I’ve felt my whole life, as someone who just doesn’t fit the mold of society and culture – I know other non-binary or queer people can relate. In my sickening song with Gia Gunn “It’s The -- For Me”, we riff on all of the stunning things around us – “look, face, body, walk!” My song “Coffee In My Cup” is a sensual ode to everyone’s favorite drink, and has taken off as a seductive celebration of cacao, using unexpected coffee innuendo. 

Rigel Gemini by Cameron Lee Art

In my first album, MELT, which was released on my birthday this year in May, I explored genres like drag music, rock, rap, punk, and even Japanese instruments and words. I touched on lots of themes that we experience as LGBTQ+ people, like being told we are “too much”, and I mention the abuse we experience online from trolls and haters in my songs Gorgeois and Meltdown. 

Rigel Gemini by Cameron Lee Art

I also got to collaborate with and feature some amazing queer and trans people of color like Gia Gunn, Aaron Valenzuela, Mustta, and Ocean Kelly.

For artists like me, it’s been so important to see representation of queer and trans people of color in music, who are defying norms and setting new standards. I have followed in the footsteps of these incredible vanguards. In contemporary music, LGBTQ+ music listeners can choose from a wide range of queer and trans artists of color to listen to, especially in the music genres of vogue/ballroom or what I affectionately call “gay pop”:

Rigel Gemini by Cameron Lee Art

... from Todrick to Bad Bunny to Frank Ocean to King Princess to Troye Sivan to Sailor Fag to Kim Petras to Dai Burger to Divoli S’vere to Cakes da Killa to RuPaul to Leikeli47 and practically every queen that stepped off of Drag Race – the list is truly neverending. 

As LGBTQ+ music artists, we are crafting our own hybrid genres of music that mix all of the incredible entertainers that have inspired our community as gay icons. I’m so inspired by the many talented LGBTQ+ artists and performers who are pushing into new spaces, creating culture, and gradually gaining broader appreciation.

Rigel Gemini by Cameron Lee Art

For me, as someone whose mother was born in Japan and who has lived in different parts of Latin America and in U.S. cities like New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Atlanta, I feel that my artistry taps into everything that I have experienced in my life.

Rigel Gemini by Cameron Lee Art

 I brought a range of LGBTQ+ and BIPOC people into my music creation process, including trans producer FORD (Michael Jackson, J.Lo), Ocean Kelly, KINBAER, Latinx ally USJR productions, and Jersey Club producer and ally DJ Telly Tellz (Ciara’s “Level Up”). 

Rigel Gemini by Cameron Lee Art

Whether genderbending or genrebending, music is yet another way to express myself. Blending my music much like I blend my fashion and appearance, it’s a joy to put a queer, radical spin on every moment. And most importantly, my music is all about fun and never taking ourselves too seriously!

Credits: Story

Images by Cameron Lee Art

Rigel Gemini (Rigel Cable) is a musical artist, Instagrammer, YouTuber, blogger, and content creator from Atlanta, GA. His music releases include “I Can’t”, “Gorgeois”, and “Coffee In My cup”. His debut music video for “I Can’t” which included celebrities Alyssa Edwards, Gia Gunn, and Arika Sato, was featured in Gay Times. Other star cameos in his music videos have included Heidi N Closet, Plastique Tiara, and Ts Madison. Rigel has been featured in Adweek, SUBVRT Magazine, Creative Loafing, and recognized as an Official Ambassador for LA Fashion Week. He has worked with brands like Lexus, Hulu, Express, and more. His content includes advocacy for the LGBTQ+ and queer/trans/gender non-conforming communities. He also focuses on topics such as Fashion, Lifestyle, and Travel. As a business professional, Rigel Cable has been recognized as Business Insider’s “35 Under 35 Rising Stars”, contributes to Huffpost and Adweek. Rigel and his husband Cameron Lee live in Atlanta, GA with their two dogs and cat.

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