Image Credit: World of Wonder/ BBC Three
After being televised on BBC Three’s RuPaul’s Drag Race UK on Thursday 12 February, the single ‘UK Hun?’ by the United Kingdolls had already reached Number 4 on The Official Big Top 40 Chart Show the following Sunday. Since then, the catchy Eurovision parody has reached the Number 3 spot and is set to receive much more attention in the upcoming weeks.
But what is the significance of having a song that explores LGBTQ+ identities playing on commercial radio stations across the country?
February is internationally recognised as LGBTQ+ history month, when we celebrate, raise awareness of, and combat prejudice against LGBTQ+ people and their histories. As a historically marginalised group, LGBTQ+ history month ensures that these important narratives are not lost in the noise of Britain’s vast history. This practice is essential in guaranteeing future appreciation and respect for LGBTQ+ voices. Educational institutions, such as schools and universities, are typically the main outlets that bring queer history to the forefront of their activities during February. However, the presence of ‘UK Hun?’ on commercial radio stations (including Capital and Heart FM), has enabled queer identities and histories to be explored via the platform of mainstream popular culture.
The show itself understands the significance of amplifying marginalised voices; an emphasis on representing non-binary narratives has become evident this season. In recent weeks, an emotive, personal conversation between non-binary identifying contestants Bimini Bon Boulash and Ginny Lemon received much praise from fans. The verse of ‘UK Hun?’ performed and written by contestant Bimini extends this representation further, towards an appreciation of non-binary narratives.
Bimini introduces the term ‘cisgender’ into the outlet of pop music by describing themselves as a ‘gender bender, cis-tem offender’. An individual can be classed as cisgender when their own gender aligns with the biological sex they were born with. The term ‘cis-tem’ derives from this, playing on the word ‘system’, which describes a set of rigid societal values established by gender binaries that intentionally exclude transgender and non-binary identifying individuals. In describing themselves as an ‘offender’, Bimini addresses the stigma surrounding the subversion of such gender norms. Yet, their defiance is a declaration of self-acceptance and empowerment.
During their conversation with Lemon, Bimini stated that “as humans, we’re so complex that having a binary to fit everyone into it, when it’s just male or female, just doesn’t make sense where there are seven billion people in the world.” The growing popularity of the single and understanding of its lyrics has enabled the topic of gender fluidity to engage national interest, encourage conversations that extend past gender binaries and create hope for more accepting safe spaces in the future.
The use of pronouns further amplifies the song’s conversation around gender fluidity, as Bimini sings, ‘don’t be scared to embrace the femme, whether you’re he, she or them’. When someone asks you to use their pronouns, they are asking you to accept their identity and avoid making someone feel disrespected. Bimini’s reference to femininity and pronouns here primarily breaks down stereotypes surrounding effeminacy. Historical gender norms have tied femininity to ideas of inferiority and weakness, resulting in the oppression of women and other groups expressing effeminate qualities. For example, a man in 1930s America could get banned from certain social spaces for conveying ‘unmasculine’ qualities. So, by breaking down these gender norms, we allow for a space where unjudged self-expression can occur. The presence of gender fluid lyrics on commercial radio also encourages the normalisation of conversations surrounding an individual’s pronouns. Which, once again, will hopefully help to remove present stigmas surrounding these topics.
The song, particularly Bimini’s verse, has also gained further attention across the social media platform ‘TikTok’, with ‘UK Hun?’ dance challenges becoming increasingly popular. From initially appearing on television, then radio, and then on social media, the song has reached a massive audience during a significant month for the LGBTQ+ community. Ultimately, ‘UK Hun?’ has played a surprisingly important role in allowing the general British public to actively participate in the celebration of queer identities this LGBTQ+ history month.
To listen to the song follow the link below: