In a new interview with Rolling Stone, Charli XCX addressed the backlash behind “Girls,” her collab single with Rita Ora, Bebe Rexha, and Cardi B.
When “Girls” dropped earlier this month, artists like Kehlani and Hayley Kiyoko were quick to accuse Ora and her collaborators of queer-baiting. “I don’t need to drink wine to kiss girls,” Kiyoko, who identifies as a lesbian, wrote on Twitter, alluding to the track’s lyrics. “I’ve loved women my entire life.”
Real talk pic.twitter.com/9EbZd5dYZq
— Hayley Kiyoko (@HayleyKiyoko) May 11, 2018
Ora has since apologized publicly for the divisive lyrics—and outed herself in the process, stating that she’s had relationships with both men and women. “’Girls’ was written to represent my truth,” she wrote on Twitter. “I am sorry [if] how I expressed myself in my song has hurt anyone.”
So I’m driving back from Soundcheck and I nearly choked on my sandwich I saw this HUGE poster I had to stop the car and take a picture! I’m performing GIRLS tonight LIVE for the first time on TV for @germanysnexttopmodel Final alongside one of my absolute favourites @shawnmendes I’m so excited!! And Congrats to all the finalists for getting this FAR! See you tonight I’m on at 10pm!!
Charli XCX, a longtime friend of Ora, decided to address the backlash, too.
“I know that Rita’s had extremely meaningful relationships with both men and women,” the British singer told Rolling Stone. “She really does have every right to tell her story because she’s not doing it from an exploitative viewpoint: she’s been with women and had relationships with women. She’s had relationships with men, too. I don’t understand why her story is less valid than anybody else’s.”
Charlie XCX says Ora felt pressured to out herself amid the controversy. Now, both hope the track can serve as a learning experience, both for LGBT people and allies:
I think… we can all learn from this conversation. It would be great to continue this dialogue in a positive way—not in an attacking way—so that people can learn about people’s feelings, about people’s sexualities and viewpoints. We can learn to not judge people before we get all the information. We can learn how certain words might make certain communities sad or upset.