The last time my mom saw my room, my mattress lacked a bed frame and the surrounding white walls were painfully empty.
It was merely a week before classes began last August and I was moving into a new apartment. Having a strict family back home made decorating my bedroom an Olympic sport over the years, as certain posters, color schemes and musicians weren’t really up to my family’s “Christian” standards.
But that makes the little ecosystem I’ve developed over the last few months in my apartment that much more of a safe haven. I’ve hung tapestries and posters from some of my favorite artists and scattered more plants across my room than I could reasonably take care of. It’s begun to match my personality and become a place I inherently feel comfortable in.
So when my mom surprised me with news a few weeks ago that she wanted to pay a visit, I immediately panicked. I stuffed half-empty wine bottles laying in my fridge into my best friend’s car trunk and moved the rainbow pride flag hanging on my living room window sill to my office desk.
I knew I had to make a plan of emptying my room of anything that could be construed as remotely suspicious or “un-Christian” — and fast.
I figured I could get away with my Snail Mail album, considering my mother has virtually no concept of who she is, and therefore doesn’t take into account that Lindsey Jordan is a lesbian that I’m in love with. Her most recent album, "Valentine," sits on my window sill. I haven’t heard any questions thus far.
I did fail to account for a chalkboard in the shape of a tiny cauldron that I bought around Halloween time. On it, I inscribed a quote from a random TikTok video that mentions the word “gay.”
Although my mom doesn’t speak perfect English, she’s not dumb. Just last afternoon, I was bombarded with questions as to why a random cauldron would have “gay propaganda” on it. Defensively, I told her I had never seen that filth in my life and that it probably belongs to my roommate. I hated throwing the blame onto her but my life was on the line.
I figured, if I’m hit with more accusations, I can just show her my Bad Bunny phone wallpaper. That should balance the scales and throw off any more questions.
Another thing to go from my room is my prized Bad Bunny candle that sits on my nightstand. I figured that my mom — a devout Roman Catholic woman — wouldn’t be too pleased to see a candle that photoshops his head onto the body of a Christian saint. Although it’s probably reassuring to her that it’s a man I’m fawning over, she wouldn’t be too pleased about a candle that portrays him as a religious icon.
Though there are songs both my mom and I love, I’ve certainly lost track of the number of songs and musicians I can’t really play when she’s around. She either won’t understand the lyrics and therefore says it sounds like “static” or “garbage” or won't approve of certain explicit mentions of drugs, sex or alcohol.
So, playing music around her is really a tightrope. But, that’s all the more excuse to blast them while I’m clearing out my room.
I can usually get away with listening to explicit music in English, but listening to music in Spanish is all the more tricky. So many genres in Latin music, like bachata and reggaeton, can be very sexually descriptive and filled with Latino slang and curse words.
And while she’s aware of my love for Bad Bunny, I can’t really get away with listening to songs about getting drunk and having sex. So, songs like “Ignorantes” and “Safaera” from his “YHLQMDLG” album are typically off-limits.
The last Lana Del Rey song I played while my mom was in the car was “Blue Jeans” off her 2012 studio album, “Born to Die.” We barely got to the first chorus when she shut off the music, saying “This is the most depressing thing I’ve heard, can’t you listen to something more positive?”
Playing Kali Uchis in the car is usually a mixed bag — she sings in both English and Spanish, so I have to carefully curate which songs I put on. A lot of the songs off “Sin Miedo (del Amor y Otros Demonios)” are off-limits, including one of my favorites from her discography, “No Eres Tu (Soy Yo),” which translates to “It’s not you (It’s me)." The song is a perfect example of how Kali has managed to find her niche in both American pop and Latin music and deliver unique sounds.
While I’ve managed to clear out my apartment and make space for my family’s judgment, these songs serve as a reminder of some of the music I tend to put away while I’m around them.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.