The Mandatory Performative Pride Month Post 3: 10 LGBTQ+ Musicians

Same caveats as in my first post with this theme. Most importantly, the weird title is not about making fun of Pride, but rather of me and general performative wokeness by corporations and/or individuals.

Also, I don’t feel I have similarly deep knowledge of music as I do have of movies. Still, this is an interesting contrast. Movies are expensive to make, so they have had to be made for large audiences, which has historically pushed minority subjects to the margins or they haven’t been made at all. Those movies I listed last time were from the 2000s with only two exceptions.

However, music is a completely different deal. Music is much less expensive to make. You can make high quality music on your own and it has been a great creative outlet for minorities for close to a century. So much of the popular music has it’s roots in black music, but there’s also the LGBTQ+ aspect to it. Like disco. Sure, it seems like a pretty generic party music genre now, but in the late-60s it was a protest movement and it was popular specifically among various minorities. Today we have hyperpop, which also has strong queer origins with people like Sophie.

And then there’s the allies. I don’t know if Beyonce identifies as queer in some way, but she definitely wasn’t shy about addressing that audience on Renaissance. Or Kinks, the lesser known British Invasion band from the 60s and 70s, who made a song about falling in love with a transwoman, but while initially hesitent, finds that the experience actually affirms his masculinity. Or Diana Ross making a song about appreciating the support she had from the queer community.

I don’t know what my goal here is really. Maybe I can offer someone an artist they can relate to and learn something about themselves. Maybe I can show someone being LGBTQ+ that there is a whole world out there and this is more common than you might think. You are not alone. Maybe someone else can find an artist they enjoy for other reasons, because these are not just great LGBTQ+ artists. They are great artists, period.

But some artists…

According to, two of my most listened to artists/bands are (and since I have data from about 15 years now, it is probably quite accurate):

David Bowie

Do we even really know what he thought of his sexuality? At times he was openly gay and at times he completely backtracked on that. He was married to two women, but also said that he met first wife, because they shared a male lover. Does this matter? Not really. he was a gay icon and so many members of that generation found him an acceptable face for being a queer, which probably did quite a bit for general acceptance.

While I don’t really like Finebros in general (especially after the stupid licensing thing), I do sort of love this video:

Of course, it’s not the Finebros being good here. They are just capturing moments of a very easily exploited moment in history here. But I do appreciate these little memories of a musician that was very influential to me in many ways. I mean, I did cry when I rewatched that video right now.

Bowie, as an artist, has such an extensive and varied career that I doubt there is anyone who wouldn’t find something to love between proto-heavy metal of his very early work, the glam rock of early 70s, the cocain-fueled blue eyed soul of mid-70s, the avant garde of late 70s, the pop of 80, the even more extreme genre-bending of the 90s and the glorious swan song of Black Star.

The Knife

My first experience with The Knife was very different from how I see them now. It was a stupid little novelty hit with a music video with a bunch of marching hammers. This is a far cry from the gothic magnificence of Silent Shout and the queer celebration of Shaking the Habitual, both works brilliantly continued by Fever Ray on their solo records. Both members have stopped using gendered nouns. I also appreciate their approach to business. When they embarked on their last tour, they just decided that instead of hiring people to do it, they brought everyone into a cooperative. I don’t really care for gigs, but I am glad I managed to see them live before they disbanded (not that they can’t work together if needed, as they are still siblings and they still run their little label – Rabid Records – together as far as I know).

Here’s an early, very inclusive, video about the power of music bringing people together:

Fun fact

What else?

Angel Olsen

Here’s an artist that came out as a lesbian fairly recently. Here’s an article on Pitchfork where she discusses the experience, including coming out to herself. I can’t really tell anyone how to approach this, if they are themselves in the process, but reading about someone else’s experiences is going to be helpful.

So, musicwise, I have a soft spot for Shut Up Kiss Me (below). It’s just a great rock track. It’s fun and energetic, but in a little bit weird way, I appreciate.


A transwoman. Sadly, she passed away couple of years ago after an accident. She mostly did production work, so her own output is limited to one proper album and some early singles. I don’t know if you can call her the originator of hyperpop, but I’m just going to do that (of course, this is always complicated and Charlie XCX definitely deserves much of the credit). I love it when artists can subvert genres. Pop, by definition, is somewhat stale, as it is just what’s popular, but hyperpop takes that and just tries to push it into new and sometimes transgressive directions.

Here’s a relatively traditional track from her:

Janelle Monae

Having started her career by talking about androids, she certainly has a POV on transhumanism. There’s a lot of speculation on the nature of her relationship with Tessa Thompson (Valkyrie in the MCU) and maybe they have even confirmed that, but I don’t really like these kinds of rumors and would not have even mentioned it if it wasn’t for the context. Moane has publicly identified herself as pansexual when that was still a new thing for most people. (I hadn’t heard the term before.)


Formerly known as Antony Johnson of Antony and the Johnson, but has since come out as transwoman. She is very politically outspoken and not only about queer issues either.

She doesn’t seem to allow playback on other sites from YouTube, so here’s a link.

Bob Mould of Hûsker Dû

Hûsker Dû was a seminal indie rock band of the 80s. They were a pretty hardcore band, but were also an important step in easing up on those sentiments to make music that is easier to approach. Sadly, their career was cut pretty short due to inner turmoil within the band with different approaches by the two primary songwriters.

Here’s a song from Mould’s early solo career.

Jónsi of Sigur Rós

Again, a seminal band, but this time in post-rock. The band uses a fictional language in their beautiful songs about a fictional land.

Azealia Banks

There’s a lot of controversy here. She is often very disrespectful and I’m not talking about basic civility politics here, but attacking people on a very personal level publicly instead. Still, she is openly bisexual and her music is kind of unique. I really don’t know how to feel about her, because I do enjoy her music. Also, at the same time, we, as a society, need to also acknowledge that bad people don’t represent whatever minority groups they happen to belong to.

CW: Strong sexually aggressive language. That’s her brand.

Brian Molko or Placebo

I seem to remember that there’s also a gay member in the band, but Molko is bi. This also shows in the songs of the band, which are often about alienation, but also have explicitly queer songs like Nancy Boy and Taste in Men. Honestly, again, I don’t really know how to feel about the band, because they are so uneven. Without You I’m Nothing is a great album from their early career, but since then, they have felt like a singles band, who force out albums full of filler.

But hey, there was a point in time, when they were good. Here’s their cover of Running Up That Hill, which itself has had plenty of queer readings over the years.

Bonus: Kacey Musgraves

As far as I know, she’s straight, but I just wanted to add this here, because the country scene in general is often quite reactionary, but she has pushed back against that (also, props to Garth Brooks, who just recently came out as a true ally by publicly stating that diversity is not a problem, but instead it is the answer, which is a great sentiment). Here’s a song about the joys of being yourself:

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