Two days before an emotional performance alongside Macklemore and Ryan Lewis at the 2013 VMAs, also featuring surprise guest Jennifer Hudson, Seattle-based singer/songwriter Mary Lambert released her own music video for the now iconic "She Keeps Me Warm."
The single, blossoming from the original chorus Lambert wrote for Macklemore and Ryan Lewis' gay rights anthem "Same Love," follows the beginnings of a relationship between two queer women.
Lambert, who recently sat down with HuffPost Live to discuss growing up in a Pentecostal household, opened up to Gay Voices about the influences behind "She Keeps Me Warm," expectations of queer women in music, and her rocketing to fame following the success of "Same Love."
In making this video, Lambert particularly aimed to highlight lesbian visibility and the evolving perspective of gay relationships within mainstream culture:
I'm so proud of this video. I've been wanting to make something like this for years, and it almost feels like I'm giving birth. I'm already starting to cry right now. It's emotional, you know? I just wonder if other lesbians OR folks in the gay community OR plus size girls have felt as frustrated as I am that is very little visibility, if at all, of their bodies in music videos.
I keep trying to put myself in an outsider's perspective, to see if it would mean as much, and I think it really does. I think it's important that there's a song that explicitly has female pronouns and portrays a lesbian couple in the video. I was a little scared of doing it for awhile, because I thought that it might alienate my audience. I never want anyone to feel uncomfortable or not want to sing along to something!
After singing "Same Love" across the nation, it's given me faith that I've underestimated the straight world. Women sing this song at the top of their lungs, and don't give two shits if it's about a lesbian relationship. They sing "She keeps me warm, she keeps me waaaarm" and enjoy singing it! I think it's giving visibility to the normalcy of gay relationships. We're just as boring as everyone else -- grocery shopping, farting in front of each other, Netflix binges. We're not rolling around in lingerie or having make-out orgies in pink pajamas while men watch. I think the video takes away the novelty and over-sexualized nature of perceived lesbian relationships.
Lambert, who has repeatedly emphasized that her performances are safe spaces for all people where crying is acceptable, ensured that the environment while shooting the video remained equally as inclusive and freeing.
This video was an all-queer female crew. A lot of the extras were queer too, come to think of it. It made the environment very safe. I trusted everyone that was on the cast and crew, and knew they all had my back. Working with Mego Lin, our director, was seamless. She's so incredibly talented and listened to my concerns and ideas and made my vision translate to film. It helps that she's also the kindest person in the universe.
The impact "She Keeps Me Warm" and "Same Love" have had on the lived experiences of such a wide spectrum of listeners, particularly LGBT people, is something that Lambert continues to treasure and value.
I receive some amazing mail and stories about the song, and it's really difficult to not get emotional. I read every single one. I just let the tears come at this point; I cry happy tears all damn day. I think the one that sticks out in my head is a girl I met in Texas. She had come out to her family, and unfortunately her mother was less than understanding. Rather than talking, her mom chose to pretend it didn't happen. A year passed and her mom picked her up from college to drive back home, which was a two hour trip. The girl and I had met briefly after a show and I gave her an autograph. She wanted to show her mom the song. They were both silent, intent on listening to every word. The mom started crying, and then the girl followed suit (Good lord, I get so weepy when I recount this story). The mom apologized for being upset and asked for the daughter's forgiveness. A real understanding and dialogue occurred after the song. In the email, the girl said "That was the first time I felt like someone was on my side."
As an artist, I don't think you can't really ask for more than that.