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How Hayley Williams helped me come to terms with my bisexuality

How Hayley Williams helped me come to terms with my bisexuality

It was circa 2007. I was at home on MySpace and I heard this really awesome song on someone’s profile. After doing some digging, I found that it was Pressure by Paramore.

But, even more exciting than the kick-ass song was the fact that the lead singer—Hayley Williams—somewhat resembled me with her fiery red hair.

Back in middle school, I remember a popular girl trying to convince me to dye my hair black. I remember being called ‘firecrotch’ by random high schoolers who thought they were being edgy.

So seeing this super cool rockstar of a woman with varying shades of red hair throughout the Paramore music videos (the deep red of Pressure, the bright orange of Misery Business, and the strawberry blonde/copper color that looked most like my hair in That’s What You Get), meant a lot for my self-confidence.

I would bring printed-out pictures of Hayley to the hair salon to show them how I wanted my hair cut. I would straighten my hair daily and relish in the compliment I would get every so often of ‘You look like the girl from Paramore!’

But more even than finding hair inspiration and a style guru, I found music that really spoke to me. Music that evolved with me as I grew.

Me right up on the barriers of Paramore’s Final Riot concert in Central Park, 2008

There are songs in each Paramore album that I could dedicate to different periods of my life. I hung onto Paramore lyrics as a source of hope and comfort. Those songs were like a giant, comforting hug during my darkest times.

Me in 2009

When Paramore’s sound completely changed upon the release of their 4th self-titled album in 2013, I was bummed at first. Who likes change, really? But then those songs grew on me. And it turns out, I really needed songs like Now, Ain’t It Fun, and Grow Up during that time in 2013, when I was recovering from a really bad breakup. In fact, in December of 2013 I even got a line from Now tattooed on my arm—Lost the battle, win the war. It serves as a reminder to me that even when I feel hopeless or things aren’t going my way, I can still come out on top at the end.

Me wearing a Paramore shirt, 2010

Then last year, Paramore released their fifth album, After Laughter. It was another huge shift in sound, but again, it ended up being just what I needed during this period of my life.

Since the release of After Laughter, I started thinking more about my affection for Hayley Williams. In my teens, I practically wanted to be her. I would watch Paramore music videos, live shows, and interviews simply because I really liked looking at her. Back in the day, I would jump around my bedroom pretending I was her on stage, even emulating the body language and movements she’d make in the music videos.

Headbanging like Hayley in 2010

I actually only came out as bi this year. Since I’d only been in relationships and had sexual experiences with male-identifying individuals, I felt like I couldn’t claim the term. I feared being told I was only saying this for attention, that it was a phase. Or, even worse, how could I know if I had never been with another woman?

As Hayley for Celebrity Day my senior year of high school, 2012

So I would toy with other labels, like heteroflexible. Then I realized that at the end of the day, even terms like that would fall under the umbrella of bisexuality. So I finally said it out loud, online, to my mom, to my partner, to my friends. I wanted to shout it from the rooftops.

Looking back, it’s pretty obvious that my fondness for Hayley was an attraction of sorts. I wanted to be her, wanted her as my mentor and friend, but yeah… I wanted to make out with her, too. She was my ‘girl crush,’ as I would tell people back then—before I was out.

To this day, Paramore is still my favorite band. Just the other day, I bought tickets to their June show in Brooklyn. And, like the old days, I jumped around my apartment singing along to Paramore music videos.