Lesbian songwriter Grace Petrie’s powerful track smashes people’s ‘narrow view of gender’

Lesbian songwriter Grace Petrie is challenging society’s “narrow view of gender” and sending a strong message to anti-trans radical feminists.

“‘Black Tie’ is really the song I wish I had had around when I was a teenager,” she told PinkNews.

“I didn’t have any butch or masculine female role models when I was young and the only time butch women were visible in media or culture, they were basically presented as a joke, or something inherently unattractive and unacceptable.

“Being very masculine myself from such an early age, I think I really would have benefitted from seeing someone who looked like me on screen or stage somewhere and knowing that it’s actually okay to be like this.”

Following an anti-trans protest at Pride in London in July, Petrie is keen to show that, as a butch lesbian, she supports trans and non-binary rights.

“I hate transphobia in any form but I am especially so disappointed when I see it coming from the feminist and lesbian communities,” she explained.

“As I try to say in the song, we have a common enemy in a patriarchal society that hurts everyone. So minorities turning on each other, and lesbians siding with exactly the same quarters of media, politics and society — the hard right, religious fundamentalists, men’s rights activists — who have historically oppressed in exactly the same ways they oppress trans people, it is such a saddening thing to see.

“The stunt that was pulled at London Pride was disgusting to me and I hate that so much of the media falsely reported it as a ‘lesbian protest’ — in reality the tiny minority of trans exclusionary feminists do not speak for me or for any of the lesbians that I know in my personal life.

Grace Petrie (Queer as Folk/Grace Petrie)

“And it is really important to me as a butch woman to show my solidarity to trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming folks of all kinds as publicly as possible — which is another reason I wrote the song.”

Filmed at a queer prom, British folk singer Petrie is hoping her “unapologetic record” will send a strong message that we must “never surrender to a narrow view of gender.”

“There is not just one acceptable way to be a woman, you can be a woman who wears men’s clothes and that’s fine, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to do that,” she added.

“It sounds like such an obvious message and maybe not an especially revolutionary one but I think if you are someone who always felt comfortable in the clothes the world prescribed for you, you couldn’t imagine what an effect it has on you to never see yourself represented anywhere.

Grace Petrie’s new album (Queer as Folk/Grace Petrie)

“Representation is so important and that’s why it was important to me to make a video that explicitly said, ‘You are great as you are, whatever, whoever, however you want to be — you are enough.’

The music video was shot in an old town hall in Leicester, which Petrie and her crew took over and turned into Queer Prom, inviting young people to “dress exactly as they wanted to.”

“We had a lot of people who came and said they were reclaiming their own proms where they couldn’t express themselves comfortably or authentically, which was exactly my experience of mine and reclaiming that was what I wanted to do with the song, so it was lovely to see so many people enjoying the atmosphere we created. It was a very emotional day.”

Grace Petrie’s song “Black Tie” features on her “very unashamedly queer” album, Queer as Folk.