I knew “Kiki” was by the Scissor Sisters, a band I really like, and I was excited they turned to black gay culture for creative inspiration. Watch the music video, though, and you don’t see a single person of color. Anywhere. I mean, how can you do a music video about serving, working and letting them have it and not show some fierce bitch from the blatino gay scene! Even the opening monologue of the song, where lead Scissor Sister Ana Matronic sasses off about how her party was ruined and now her weave is messed up, is said in an inflected black voice. Why didn’t they just get a cameo from somebody from the vogue scene?
This is not like when Lena Dunham didn’t cast any brown folks on Girls. That was about not thinking about brown people period. This is about stealing from brown people and not thinking about them, period. In the case of “Kiki,” queer brown folks are the ones who invented the terms that make up the entirety of the Scissor Sisters chart-topping song, and those faces have been completely wiped out. I’m willing to bet that the gays watching this video will have no idea where these words come from. But the reality is that these are terms that were created so that gays of color could communicate with one another in a clandestine way, and scholars like E. Patrick Johnson, Henry Louis Gates, and Geneva Smitherman have done research on the uniqueness and specificity of black (gay) speech patterns. For the Scissor Sisters to use and capitalize on black gay slang without paying due credit to the people who invented it isn’t appropriation—it’s straight up cultural larceny.