Date: January 15th, 2008
Author: Megan Smith
Publication: Out In Perth
Headline: Tegan and Sara: The Rise of Lesbian Rock Stars, in 4 Parts
On their fifth and most recent album, The Con, Canadian twins Tegan & Sara reached a new level of commercial success and a new generation of fans. OUTinPerth interviewed Tegan Quin, one half of the lesbian duo. As a tribute to the book-inspired concept behind The Con, we have decided to tell chapter by chapter how Tegan’s view of life as a queer musician has evolved over the past decade.
Tegan & Sara come out in rock star style and the lesbian world takes notice.
‘When you come out, you are really gay. You are rainbow-clad. You all of a sudden find your community and you identify really strongly with that. We wrote our first record when we were 17 and our second when we were 19 and those were the first two years that we came out… So, the first couple recordings were right around when we were coming out and absolutely that was an opportunity for us to be speaking directly to the girls we were trying to get with.’
‘The girl I’m dating, she was a huge fan and she was like “When I heard Business of Art [Tegan & Sara’s second album], me and my friends were listening to it and were like they’re totally gay. They must be gay!” Which cracks me up because in the States we were on the cover of Lesbian News – which is the biggest glossy lesbian magazine – but she was from Canada from a small town. I don’t think there is a person on Earth who didn’t know we were gay at that point, but I guess she didn’t.’
The girls learn to deal with their newfound fame and the crazy, obsessed groupies that come with it.
‘When it comes to the more unstable, obsessive fans, they get more obsessed with one of us. On the last record and in between records amongst real die hards it got out that I was single… This one girl got really obsessive and she started emailing a lot and she had this myspace page that was really intense. She was calling me the Virgo and talking about how we were destined to be together and how I just needed to let her in.… I want Lindsey Lohan, but I’m not going to create a whole myspace page about it.’
‘The fact is that at the end of the night when two hours have gone by and it’s minus 20 and ten kids are standing in an alley, they are lunatics – in a good way mostly, but they’re lunatics. I certainly wouldn’t be standing in an alley for two hours in the rain to meet me.’
Tegan goes from watching the L Word and perving on Marina to performing on the show and hanging out with Shane and Alice.
‘I loved Marina. I have a straight girl thing and an older woman thing. So, straight, older woman, I was so up for that… It’s a great show, especially the first two seasons, which to me were landmark. My Mom got it for me for Christmas, and my girlfriend and I, we watched the entire first season over the Christmas holidays. I didn’t know any of the people off the show at the time, but they shot in Vancouver and I would wander the streets hoping to run into them. That was when the L Word was getting a lot of press and a lot of gay people were complaining that it was not realistic… And I was like, who cares? It’s a fucking gay show and it’s entertaining and it’s hot and they’re not playing out a lot of the stereotypes.’
‘[Now] I have a friendship with Kate Moenning [Shane]… I don’t claim to be a best friend of hers or anything like that, but we’ve hung out a few times and she comes to our shows. Her and Leisha [Alice] pushed really heavily to get us on the show…’
The girls defend their sexuality against critics who say they aren’t as gay as they used to be.
‘I gave interviews to gay press in America a couple weeks ago and almost every single interviewer asked me at some point or another in some way or another, why we didn’t talk more about being gay. In ten years, I don’t think I’ve done one interview where they haven’t asked me about being gay. [So] I disagree that there isn’t a lot of stuff about us being gay. I think it has been written about so much that people aren’t that interested in writing about it anymore because how many times can you say we’re gay? How many different ways can you say it? We’re gay.’
‘When you’re straight, you don’t have to walk around with pointy boots and tight pants and a Prada purse. You don’t have to embody all the Laguna Beach characteristics of hetero culture to be straight, you just get to be straight. I’m just gay. I don’t have to have a shaved head and a fucking armband tattoo and sit and listen to Ani DiFranco to be gay. I am all those things whether or not I’m representing them physically… I’m absolutely excited about leading another generation into the frays of pushing mainstream culture into accepting gay music and gay artists and recognizing that we are equal and the same.’