Country Queer

Lifting up LGBTQ+ voices in country and Americana.

You can't pair a wine with an album...can you?

CQ Presents “Queer From Here,” Pt.7: Mal Blum

By Lauren Tabak & Mal Blum

Welcome back to Lauren Tabak’s “Queer From Here” series, in which Tabak has photographed some of the faces of Country Queer, continuing today with Los Angelesbased singer-songwriter Mal Blum. Mal’s latest EP, ‘Aint it Nice,’ came out in April, preceded by the single and video for “Candy Bars & Men,” which we spoke with them about in an interview earlier this year.

Be sure to read our interview with the photographer where she discusses the genesis for this series, which she refers to as “…an archive of modern queer identity that explores what it’s like to be queer here & now.”

For more #queerfromhere, click here.

Mal Blum, Eternal • They/Him • Los Angeles/New York


You can't pair a wine with an album...can you?

I think a lot about archives and how we are seen now and will be in the future, so this project is right up my alley.

Since I was young, I was hyper visible as queer, like somebody who was read as gay from across the room. Even in ways that weren’t exactly correct. People were like “that’s a lesbian” forever. Even when I was like “I’m bi or pansexual” or later on when I was like “I’m non-binary” or “I’m trans” …It wore on me. I remember being with people who were happy about it, because they thought my “visible queerness” made their queerness more visible. But it made me feel very misunderstood. Now, I’m really not sure.

It seems most strangers read me as a man, but I don’t know what kind of man they think I am. Maybe I give off bi guy energy? Although, it seems incredibly regional or situational. For some reason, I still get “lady’ed” in certain places, even when I have a beard. You’d have to ask them what they see from their eyes.

That’s the thing about perception of self, it’s subjective, it’s every interaction, it’s every new friend, it’s every rest stop, it’s every drug store and it’s 100 times a day. All my IDs are still in my birth gender and birth name. I move through the world, I would say, semi-cautiously whenever I try to get on an airplane or pick up medication or enter a bathroom, but it’s much better than before, when I felt grated and raw much of the time. Sometimes I can slip into invisibility in a way I couldn’t before, like if I run into a gas station and don’t talk much, if they think I’m a cis man, and also I’m sure because I’m white, I’m able to sort of run in and out without feeling those looks I used to feel.

But being read as straight? I’m not sure I can pull that off. My life is so gay that if you talk to me at all, I will out myself immediately pretty much and I do think there are some visual signifiers. I’m not sure what people think. I’ve spent my whole life worrying what people think, to tell you the truth. Maybe one of these days I’ll finally be able to let it go.

Photo Credit: Lauren Tabak

Lauren Tabak’s “Queer From Here” series for Country Queer will run on Mondays for the foreseeable future. For more information about Tabak, go here. For more information about Mal Blum, go here.