The 27-year-old singer released the track – which also features Cardi B, Bebe Rexha and Charli XCX – last week and was met with criticism from many fans, including fellow singer Hayley Kiyoko who claimed some of the lyrics seemed to exploit the idea of being bisexual.
Now, Rita has released a formal statement apologising to those who took offence to the track, saying she would “never intentionally cause harm” to the LGBT+ community.
Posting the statement on Twitter, Rita wrote: “Hello everyone reading this. Girls was written to represent my truth and is an accurate account of a very real and honest experience in my life. I have had romantic relationship with women and men throughout my life and this is my personal journey.
“I am sorry how I expressed myself in my song has hurt anyone. I would never intentionally cause harm to other LGBTQ+ people or anyone. Looking forward, I hope that continuing to express myself through my art will empower my fans to feel as proud of themselves as I’m learning to feel about who I am. I’m ever thankful to my fans for teaching me to love myself to matter what. I have strived to be a contributor to the LGBTQ+ community throughout my entire career and always will be.
“Love, Rita. (sic)”
In Hayley’s criticism of the song, she picked out the lyrics: “Sometimes, I just wanna kiss girls/Red wine, I just wanna kiss girls,” as she claimed they suggested Rita would only kiss girls if she was drunk first.
Hayley said: Every so often there come certain songs with messaging that is just downright tone-deaf, which does more harm than good for the LGBTQ+ community. A song like this just fuels the male gaze while marginalising the idea of women loving women.
“I don’t need to drink wine to kiss girls; I’ve loved women my entire life. This type of message is dangerous because it completely belittles and invalidates the very pure feelings of an entire community.”
Previously, Rita had claimed she wanted the song to become a bisexual anthem.