10 Fascinating Facts About Hayley Kiyoko, One of the Biggest Badasses in Music Right Now

When your fans dub you "Lesbian Jesus," you know you've got to be doing something right. Sure, Hayley Kiyoko can't contour, but she definitely knows how to describe all the nuances and complications of love through music. The 28-year-old performer first blew up after "Girls Like Girls" was released in 2015, and she's only continued to grow in popularity ever since. If you don't know Kiyoko for her music (though TBH, you really should), you might recognize her from 2011's Lemonade Mouth, a very memorable episode of Insecure, and Taylor Swift's music video for "You Need to Calm Down," among many other roles. Here are just a few other facts you may not know about the LGBTQ+ icon.

She First Decided She Wanted to Become a Performer at an *NSYNC Concert
Getty | Jeff Hahne

She First Decided She Wanted to Become a Performer at an *NSYNC Concert

Kiyoko was only six when she begged her parents to begin drum lessons, and two years later, she attended the *NYSNC No Strings Attached concert and found her true calling. "I was like, full on performing in the audience like I was on stage," she recounted to Refinery29 during a March 2018 interview. "I just kept thinking I want to do that."

She Never Really Connected to Pop Songs Growing Up
Getty | Mike Coppola

She Never Really Connected to Pop Songs Growing Up

Though Hayley has always appreciated pop music, she felt that — as a queer woman — those pop songs were never really written for her. "I grew up listening to lots of great music but I never connected with it," she confessed to The Independent in February 2019. "I'd sing along to these songs but they weren't made for me. I could leave out the pronouns in my music but what would be the point? By being specific, it helps people like me to feel like they're not alone. Sometimes you have to be bold and keep repeating yourself to normalize things."


She Wishes She Had a Queer Community When She Was Younger

Kiyoko has been aware of and comfortable with her own sexuality for a while now, but she never had a supportive group growing up — which is exactly why she wants to give that community to other people. "I think that it's exciting and inspiring that people are able to connect to these stories . . . To be able to share that with other people is such a beautiful thing," she told fellow queer performer Kehlani during a July 2018 conversation for The Fader. "I never really had that community growing up. I really just want to continue to focus on the art. I think that's my responsibility and that's where the pressure is: constantly putting out good work and being truthful and honest with everyone."

She Often Tears Up on Stage
Getty | Frazer Harrison

She Often Tears Up on Stage

Even when Kiyoko is performing party anthems, she often can't help but feel emotional when she's up on stage. "I'm always crying during tour," she admitted to CR Fashion Book in January 2019. "It's emotional to allow yourself to be vulnerable and open to someone. It's really great to get to share that with people . . . We always have room to go. It's one thing for people to be kind to anyone in the community, but it's another to accept your own daughter or son."

She's Inspired by the Music of Emily Haines and Fiona Apple
Getty | Joe Maher

She's Inspired by the Music of Emily Haines and Fiona Apple

For music inspiration, Kiyoko has always looked to other strong female artists. "I looked up to, like, Emily Haines from Metric and Fiona Apple," she told Harpers Bazaar in April 2018 when asked about her favorite performers. "I was inspired by their stories and their lyrics, and the colors that they were able to create with their music."


She Suffered a Concussion Before Writing Her 2016 Album Citrine

Kiyoko is admired for her candor, but according to her, that willingness to be open and honest may be due to a concussion she suffered shortly before writing her 2016 EP Citrine. The incident happened during a Road Rules/Real World–themed competition at her 25th birthday party and it left her in constant pain, which was especially difficult, seeing as she was on tour at the time.

"I don't like to say that it happened for a reason. But it's taught me to slow down," she explained to CR Fashion Book. "I think that there was always going to be a crash. There was always going to be something that happened that was going to teach me to slow down. Because of it, I've learned a good self-care routine. I've learned how to function when I'm not feeling well, when I don't know my purpose or what I want in life or when I'm lost. It's really challenged me mentally to know who I am."


She Starting Using Citrine Crystals After Her Concussion

Following her 2016 head injury, Hayley found that resting with citrine pieces on her forehead and using a citrine crystal was one of the few things that brought her relief, and she later named her next EP Citrine. "I couldn't think, I couldn't open my eyes, I couldn't drive," she told BuzzFeed in January 2018 about the aftermath of her accident. "I was f*cked up. I take like five pills a day for my head, still."


She's Been Criticized for Telling Too Many Gay Love Stories

Kiyoko's music may talk about love and heartbreak in a way that's relatable for anyone, but her use of female pronouns has concerned those in the industry. "I've had several music industry execs say 'You're doing another music video about girls?' I literally looked at them and was like, um, yeah . . . Taylor Swift sings about men in every single song and video, and no one complains that she's unoriginal," Kiyoko told Refinery29. "I'm not over-sexualizing my music. I make out with women because I love women, not because I'm trying to be sexy. That's not to turn heads — that's my life."


She Was Afraid to Release "Girls Like Girls"

Back in 2015, Kiyoko found herself hesitating before she released "Girls Like Girls" from This Side of Paradise, which is a song all about a girl stealing another guy's girl — and which simultaneously felt like Kiyoko's personal coming-out. "I had to persuade myself to release 'Girls Like Girls,'" she told The Standard. "I always felt like it wasn't anyone's business who I loved. But as an artist you want to be as truthful and honest as possible. I felt like I wasn't being truthful unless I sang about what has really shaped my life."

She Doesn't Want to Be Defined by Her Sexuality
Getty | Scott Dudelson

She Doesn't Want to Be Defined by Her Sexuality

Kiyoko feels proud to give her queer fans something they can relate to and songs they can recognize themselves in, but she wants to be known as a performer rather than a queer performer. "Over time, my existence alone will help people see that a lesbian singer is just a singer," she explained to Refinery29. "So while I might not want to constantly be asked about my sexuality and just be me, a big part of me is my love of women. So I guess I'm talking about it until it's no longer seen as something to talk about."