Metro Weekly

Kim Petras says US record labels dismissed her as ‘gay club music’

Petras recently made history as the first openly trans performer at the MTV VMAs

Kim Petras
Kim Petras — Photo: Steven Klein

Kim Petras has discussed her rocky road to stardom, from being seen as a “joke” in her home country of Germany to being dismissed as “gay club music” by the U.S. music industry.

Last month, the pop icon became the first-ever trans artist to perform at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade after earning the same distinction at the MTV Video Music Awards in September.

Petras, 29, gained fame after being featured in a documentary 15 years ago about her journey to becoming one of the youngest people ever to medically transition in Germany.

Although the documentary and subsequent TV appearances gave Petras international media coverage, she told BuzzFeed News that she was portrayed as “a spectacle rather than an ambitious teen who wanted to be a musician.”

And so Petras “made the decision to get out of Europe.”

“I’m seen as a joke, and nobody wants to talk about my music, people don’t want to work with me,” she said. “I’m just, like, ‘the tranny on TV’ to people.”

However, when she moved to Los Angeles to pursue music, executives weren’t interested, she recalled.

“A lot of people were like, ‘You write gay club music.’ As if that was a bad thing,” she said, adding, “That’s an honor for me.”

Many American radio stations, she continued, “were weirded out.”

“It was like a lot of them had probably never met a trans person,” she said. “Also it was like, ‘This is, like, loud, and you sing really loud, and it’s not what’s happening right now.’ They were like, ‘Sorry.’”

Yet Petras learned that if she wanted to get discovered, which she wanted “more than anything,” she had to “do it myself” without self-censorship.

“I want to love my life, I want to feel free as an artist, I want to express myself,” Petras, whose latest single “Coconuts” went viral on TikTok, said.

She continued: “I don’t really need a huge hit to feel successful. I’ve been feeling successful since I could tour.

“That’s what’s driven me, my career and this goal of me on a huge stage, with people who sing my songs. That was all I’ve ever dreamt about.”

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