To close off this Pride Month, we wanted to recap some of our go-to LGBTQ+ artists. Join us as we take a closer look into their careers, music and impact on the queer community.
As the lead singer in Queen, Freddie Mercury truly was a star. Despite his efforts to keep his sexuality under wraps, he became a figurehead in the queer community. This came from his consistent challenges to the binary in the world around him, through his style, self-expression and music. Though he was not officially out during his life, and his true sexuality remains a mystery, fans have picked up on even the most subtle nods to his queerness. Many theorize that one of the band’s most famous tracks, Bohemian Rhapsody, is actually a coming out story. Those online have made compelling arguments to support this theory, so give the song another listen from this perspective and see what you think!
Janelle Monáe came out as pansexual back in 2018, just before their release of the album Dirty Computer. They describes this album as being radically honest, where they strip away their popstar persona to become vulnerable in their humanity. The album has many queer themes throughout, with Monáe describing this project as one for their LGBTQ+ fans. Monáe came out as non-binary last year, continuing to openly embrace their truth in the public eye. Earlier this month, Monáe released their album The Age of Pleasure just in time for Pride Month and will be touring the US this fall!
Louis Kevin Celestin, better known by his stage name Kaytranada, is an artist and DJ that grew up in Montreal. He has slowly but surely been making a name for himself in the music industry since 2010. This past May, Kay and fellow artist Aminé released their self-proclaimed “album of the summer,” Kaytraminé. Kay is known for his masterful ability to mix disco, house and hip-hop to create one sound that is uniquely his. Starting out his music career, Kay grappled with the truth of his sexuality. He finally found freedom in coming out to his family, recognizing the dichotomy of his identities, which were both real parts of him. He has continued in his pride, never shying away from accepting his true self since coming out.
Melissa Ferrick has been a musician their whole life, entering the professional sphere at the young age of 21. They have since put out 17 albums under several different labels and have even begun their own label and music consulting business. Ferrick has done much for both the music and queer communities in their life. From being the named plaintiff in the Ferrick v. Spotify copyright case to their active engagement in the LGBTQ+ community in the Boston area and beyond, Ferrick is truly making their mark on the world. They have openly discussed their own involvement in the queer community and where they fit in, through sexuality, gender identity and gender expression. Their song Drive has become an anthem in the sapphic community, speaking to the lesbian experience. While still continuing their professional music career, Ferrick has also entered the academic arena, being currently employed at Northeastern University teaching about everything music and the music industry. Last fall, I had the wonderful opportunity to take a class with Professor Ferrick at NU. Professor Ferrick empowered our individuality and encouraged our growth, pushing us to challenge ourselves and each other to truly be our best. Check out this article to learn more and even hear from Ferrick themself!
David Bowie is super well known for his androgyny in his fashion, looks and performances, specifically with the character of Ziggy Stardust. Bowie worked to normalize the “abnormal,” being those that did not fit into society’s constricting standards. He famously declared that he was gay in a 1972 interview with Michael Watts and exemplified openness and pride throughout his entire career. Bowie was a legend in queer culture, showing people that it was OK to be different. The artist tried to rework the binary at any opportunity he got, and many of his songs depicted this. Lady Stardust is a well-known song about gay love, among many other famous queer anthems from David Bowie.
Josephine Baker was an international star, singer, dancer, actress, and even spy in the early to mid 1900s. She was born in Saint Louis, Missouri, but she moved to New York City in her teens. She came up in the city during the Harlem Renaissance, being inspired by all the artistic and cultural influence around her. She soon moved from NYC to Paris in the mid 1920s. Baker was quick to fame in France and was able to find musical success in both dance and song. She also often saw success in her romantic life, pursuing both male and female suitors. Baker was never ashamed of her bisexuality and talked openly about it. Despite the dangers of overt homosexuality in the 20th century, Baker advocated for her queer peers with pride.
Kevin Abstract is a visionary both in the rap and LGBTQ+ worlds, and even where these two worlds meet. At the young age of 13, Abstract formed an artistic collective with some of his friends from school as well as a few fellow Kanye West fans he met online. This group would later be known as “BROCKHAMPTON” and would be skyrocketed into fame in 2017 after their trilogy release of the Saturation albums. Abstract is known for his new sound in the rap genre, but he’s also famous for his contemporary approach to his lyrics. He often discusses his life as a gay black man in the rap game, reflecting on his closeted youth that developed into his current pride in his queerness.
Ani DiFranco has been one to go against the grain her whole life. The beginning of her music career even started this way; She didn’t want to get caught up under a big record label, so at the young age of 20 she developed her very own majority-female label that she still runs today. Her music is “delinquent” in ways as well. She plays with different genres and sounds to create one that’s uniquely hers. In her lyrics, she discusses relationships with men, women and everyone in-between. DiFranco has been an LGBTQ+ advocate her whole life, and she especially pushes for the acceptance of every form of queerness. She has preached how there is no right way to be queer and pushes the community to recognize the beauty in diversity.
With the end of Pride Month, we wanted to celebrate the excellence that is queer music. Here at Encore Tours, we promote understanding, empathy and acceptance through connecting worldwide. This playlist is just a jumping off point for you – we want this to inspire you to discover all different kinds of LGBTQ+ music coming out of Pride Month. The queer experience comes in many different forms, and music is a way for us to share and unite in what makes us unique.