Liza Anne – “Cheerleader”
In the time since 2020’s Bad Vacation, the genre-jumping Nashville pop-rocker Liza Anne came out as gay and nonbinary. Their new single “Cheerleader” and its video are a celebration of that change. The song is jubilant and funky, with a strutting groove and a brass-blasted shout-along chorus; it reminds me of Prince and “Hollaback Girl.” The chorus: “So cute and you don’t even know it/ You’re walking that talk and I love it, I love it/ Show me how you do it, oh I want it, I want it/ I’ll be your cheerleader!”
For the video, directed by Jacq Justice, Liza Anne dons sort of a punk-rock cheerleader outfit to reframe high school rites of passage in queer terms, including makeout sessions with comedian Eva Victor. Here’s Liza with the backstory:
With Cheerleader, it was so important to me to create a space of healing in a physical place where before, I wasn’t fully free. To return to an actual high school gymnasium with a queer cast feeling euphoric and fully celebrated felt so important – we were all physically in a place that smelled like being bullied and reminded me of stuffing who I was so far down I could hardly reach them. To return joyful and fully ourselves was powerful. It went beyond a visual or an aesthetic or a creative choice and became a therapeutic catharsis for all of us – I don’t even think I knew how much lighter I was going to feel. Being gay is a fucking miracle and I feel so surrounded by love and support right now, it’s almost overwhelming. Queerness is so beautiful, I feel like I am home. I am so happy to be here.
Liza Anne has also shared a poem called “The Gay Miracle,” which you can read below:
There is so much found in a sacred beginning.
Maybe the most sacred thing is when you realize it’s not a beginning at all.
My nose pressed to the glass of all the moments in yesterday when
my body, my love, my spirit, my language, my perspective, my emotions
all hinted at, nearly screamed towards, what I only recently had full context for.
The miraculous slow uncovering of what has been pulsing in me since birth
The slow melt into oneself – finally and on time.
That is the gay miracle …
to notice – and deeper, still … to recognize
not because it is new but because it is ancient.
As known in your earthly body as breath and a window into the great celestial
A promise that everything everywhere is expanding and healing and there are seconds
Second chances, second winds, second childhoods.
We are the conscious plant, aware of their growing, blooming from the soil of those around us saying
“I see you and when you are ready, you will, too.”
That patient, generous holding that comes from a community who understands – with a sobering weight – the process of becoming.
I am here now because I have been loved in a way that makes sense to me.
I am not scared anymore – I am comforted by the context that comes with the miracle of being gay.
Every second that goes by, I understand more.
The grief I felt, the discomfort, the itchy skin because clothes felt wrong
How hugging my friends flushed my face pink and gave me a fever
How many times I felt almost, not quite – othered within either.
And all of the sudden I look around at the piles of pain
Cataloguing what didn’t seem related
And I am healing.
Being gay is a miracle.
Wherever there has been loss, ten fold it is recovered in the undeniable sense of belonging that comes with it.
Leaning into the parts of myself that felt other and finding a deeper sense of home – that is the gay miracle.
Coming around the corner to a second childhood – that is the gay miracle.
Holding each other in a way that can only bloom from what has been historically and secretly shared – that is the gay miracle.
It is the quiet self being given a megaphone, finally.
It is another childhood but this time with what you needed, tenfold.
It’s the truth put on and danced around in.
It is the constant wonder of softening, lightening, opening, widening – it is the conversation I want to be having over and over again.
My movement towards joy holds hands with, is twisted up with and completely meshed with being gay.
One couldn’t happen without the other. I am so happy to be here.