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Empowered and emboldened to sing about their experiences and to raise awareness for the LGBTQ+ community – these are the artists that are leading the way in music’s queer revolution.
LGBTQ+ artists have been present and vocal in popular music for some time. Artists like k.d lang, Prince, Freddie Mercury, David Bowie, Adam Lambert, and Tegan and Sara (just to name a few) have all played incredibly important roles when it comes to visibility and conversation over the last four or five decades.
Now there’s a new crop of open and proud queer artists leading the pack. Whether they’re singing about loving others or loving themselves, these artists are fuelling a revolution – one that pushes for acceptance, openness, and love for everyone.
We’ve picked out just a small handful to highlight – but let us promise you, the revolution is well and truly happening.
You probably know vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and producer Mikaela Strauss by now – she makes glorious music as King Princess. Her debut single 1950 is a tender journey through the experience of unrequited queer love, about a time when it was taboo to be out. As she said in an interview with Harpers Bazaar, “I feel like we look at history as so romanticized for straight people, but gay people have that right too. We have a right to romanticize our past, even though it’s painful.”
From making Youtube videos in his bedroom to filling rooms the world over, Troye Sivan is one of Australia’s most visible queer artists in mainstream music. His latest album Bloom is bursting full of gorgeous love songs – liberated, joyous, queer love songs – and he has the world singing along.
While two pop powerhouses in their own right, when they came together on the fabulous What I Need, it became a moment. Here, they’re telling their own stories in their own words, and it’s so important to have artists so vocal – both through their music and in their public lives – about empowering the LGBTQ+ community.
Speaking openly about everything from her experiences as a bisexual woman to her battles with mental health, Halsey has brought the spotlight to many important – and often not openly spoken about – conversations. Bisexual representation in pop culture is still pretty complicated, and having an artist in the Top 40 writing love songs using both opposite-gender and same-gender pronouns is pretty powerful stuff.
Mike Hadreas AKA Perfume Genius is no stranger to creating big pop songs – and while he’s been singing anthems for years, his latest album is a little different. While 2014’s Queen is feisty and in your face, his latest album No Shape is softer. Before he was writing at the people against him, now he’s writing with and for the people already on his side.
Years & Years frontman Olly Alexander uses music to express his sexuality and inspire others to not be afraid of being themselves. It isn’t just through music though, Alexander uses his platform to share his experiences and those of others too. In 2017, he released a BBC documentary titled Growing Up Gay shed light on mental health issues among LGBTQ+ youth.
Janelle Monae celebrates her identity wholly and proudly throughout her music. Coming out in an interview with Rolling Stone for her latest album Dirty Computer, she said “I want young girls, young boys, nonbinary, gay, straight, queer people who are having a hard time dealing with their sexuality, dealing with feeling ostracized or bullied for just being their unique selves, to know that I see you…This album is for you.”
Right here, at home in Australia, our revolution is thriving too. And if these artists aren’t on your radar yet, you’d best get to know them real quick.