LGBTQ+ History Month might only be celebrated once a year, but taking pride in the community can happen every day. Music has played a huge role in queer culture over the years, whether in underground subcultures or the charts.
So, as LGBTQ+ History Month draws to a close, let’s take a look at some of the trailblazers in our community, past and present, that we can celebrate all year round.
Arlo Parks (she/her)
If you’ve been keeping up to date with new releases, then you already know Arlo Parks. She released her debut album Collapsed in Sunbeams just this year and she’s already being hailed as the next big thing in bedroom pop. She’s openly bisexual, describing herself at school as “feeling like that black kid who couldn’t dance for shit, listening to too much emo music and crushing on some girl in her Spanish class.” Legend. She’s achieved so much already at only 20 years old, and I can’t wait to hear what comes next.
Angel Haze (she/her)
Next up, one of the best and most criminally underrated rappers out there. Seriously, listen to ‘Werkin Girls’ and tell me you’ve ever heard anything so intense. Angel Haze identifies as pansexual and agender and frequently sings about her personal experiences with her sexuality and mental health. Her goal is to reach out to people who are going through similar situations and connect with them through music.
If you’re reading this article, you probably know and stan Hayley Kiyoko, a.k.a ‘Lesbian Jesus’. She skyrocketed to fame in the queer community after the release of ‘Girls Like Girls’. This song not only spread a positive message of love and acceptance but also taught a generation of young women that you can steal his girl. Since then, we’ve had the joy of watching her blossom, and now the whole world has fallen in love with Hayley Kiyoko.
Janelle Monáe (she/they)
You probably already love Janelle Monáe, but there’s always a good time to celebrate such a charming musician. Her music is an experience and a story more than anything else, brimming with personality and narrative. They were met with incredible praise after the release of Dirty Computer, one of the musical highlights of the last few years. Monáe came out as non-binary in 2020 and in interviews, has said that they take a free and fluid approach to gender.
Looking for a heavier band to listen to? Against Me! are one of the best punk bands of this generation. They are fronted by Laura Jane Grace, one of the most visible punk rock musicians to come out as a trans woman. The band recorded an album on the subject of gender dysphoria, Transgender Dysphoria Blues, which received consistently positive reviews. Taking to Rolling Stone about her identity and her music, she said, “However fierce our band was in the past, imagine me, six-foot-two, in heels, fucking screaming into someone’s face.”
Ezra Furman (she/they)
Ezra Furman has been busy these last couple of years. You might recognise her intriguing vocals from the soundtrack of Netflix’s Sex Education, with her and the band making a cameo appearance at the school dance. She also released the album Twelve Nudes in 2019, including what is perhaps the best song of that year, ‘I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend’. Furman identifies as trans and bisexual, and the themes of gender and sexuality and gender frequently come up in their beautiful brand of rock.
Throwing it back to the nineties, we come to the unparalleled Pansy Division. They were one of the first openly gay punk bands and were well-loved in the US queercore scene in California. Their music fights back against stereotypes about gay men and they were an integral part of the punk rock scene at the time. They brought queercore to a larger audience in 1994 when they were asked to tour with Green Day, who named them “the future of rock ‘n’ roll”. Always ahead of their time, they sang openly and honestly about their sexuality, using their songs to promote safe sex and positivity. On top of that, their music is just a joy to listen to.
Do you live in a small, intolerant town? Do you like folk punk? Then you should check out Onsind. Hailing from Durham, their most celebrated song is ‘Heterosexuality is a Construct’, and anthem for anyone who doesn’t fit into society’s expectations of them. Their music is unapologetic and their sound is a sweet balance between charming acoustic and fierce punk rock.
Christine and the Queens (she/her)
Christine and the Queens (who is actually just one person) has been making waves both in the UK and across the Channel in France, where she comes from. She famously releases her music in both French and English, changing the lyrics in each language and she’s unlike anyone you’ve heard before. Her genderqueer and pansexual identity is a massive part of her music and her performances are mesmerising. Bonus points to her because her music counts as French revision.
Image courtesy of ROBIN WORRALL.