Marie Ulven Ringheim, better known as the “girl in red” is a Norwegian indie-pop singer-songwriter. She began music on SoundCloud. In fact, she originally put out “I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend,” her debut single, through the app. She quickly gained popularity, with the New York Times naming her “one of the most astute and exciting singer-songwriters working in the world of guitar music.” Born in Horten, Norway, Marie is now openly lesbian. Over the past few months, she has also become a meaningful icon for the queer community, particularly among Generation Z.
A Tik Tok Takeover
Girl in red has taken off among Generation Z. So, fittingly, the up-and-coming star found her place on Tik Tok. She began posting on her account (@girlinred) in 2019. Her posts range from hilarious renditions of a “fuck girl” (instead of a fuck boy) to clips of her music while in the works. She even posted an open question to Post Malone, asking if he would like to collaborate on a new melody Marie created.
In particular, teens around the world are jumping on a trend where girl in red’s music takes the center stage. Young queer women use the question “Do you listen to girl in red?” to sneakily figure out another woman’s sexuality. The trend quickly blew up on “gay Tik Tok.” Some described “Do you listen to girl in red” as the perfect way to see if someone was queer without forcing them to come out publicly (if they’re not comfortable).
I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend
Since near the start of her music career, Marie has been incredibly open about her sexuality. Songs like “girls” and “I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend” finally give lesbian romance the depth they deserve in popular media. According to Complex, girl in red “didn’t set out to be a queer icon — she just wanted to be honest.”
In one particular version of the Tik Tok trend, young queer women play girl in red’s hit song “I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend” in front of each other. Specifically, they play the chorus, with lyrics: “I don’t wanna be your friend / I wanna kiss your lips.” In some renditions of the trend, the young, queer women, who were (at least to the eyes of the Tik Tok viewers) previously just friends, lean in to kiss each other. These videos are quite cute, to say the least. More importantly, they also tell a powerful story about queer love within a heteronormative society.
However, despite her growing popularity, on July 9, #girlinredisoverparty was trending on Twitter. Here’s what happened: girl in red tweeted generally about her frustration at ignorance not only outside the queer community, but also within it. In response, one user tweeted about the validity of transgender lesbian folks. A short while later, that same user posted proof that girl in red blocked her on Twitter, for reasons that appeared to be rooted in transphobia.
But the Twitter drama continued to develop. That same user had also made a tweet in support of bi/pansexual lesbians. In this case, this identity would indicate someone who “leans” more toward lesbian on the spectrum of sexuality. This is a problematic view because it is incredibly invalidating to both those who identify as bisexual and those who identify as lesbian. Other Twitter users speculated that these comments could have been the source of girl in red’s blocking.
The next morning, though, girl in red responded to the hashtag. Here’s what she said:
“i went to bed last night and woke up to a misunderstanding i think. non binary lesbians are valid ! i hope i did not offend someone, when my tweet was meant to literally to INCLUDE. i’ve decided to delete the whole tweet now as this is making me very scared im not against anyone”@_girlinred_
Marie still has the user blocked, and has not made any remarks in reference to them specifically.
Transphobia in the Queer Community
While we may not know Marie’s sincere thinking when it comes to #girlinredisoverparty, it is clear that transphobia is real, even within the Queer community. It is crucial that trans women who are sexually attracted to women can identify as lesbians. Denying them this right is inherently transphobic. Further, it is also crucial that non-binary folks who identify as lesbian feel safe doing so. And, thankfully, girl in red made that clear in her latest tweet.