Top LGBTQ Artists & Advocacy
Top LGBTQ artist lists are a dime-a-dozen, so DHC has taken a slightly different approach with a list of some of our fave LGBTQ Artists & Advocacy. Read the following for musicians fighting for real change, and check out the playlist of more LGBTQ artists at the end!
Sons of an Illustrious Father
Self-defined as a “genre-queer,” Sons of an Illustrious Father offers passionate sound and heart-wrenching honesty through their insanely sick music. In their Billboard “Love Letter to the LGBT Community” they penned,
“So often to meet our overriding desire to belong, we feel we must compromise the passions of our hearts and the specificity of our individual selves. Many of us have known the struggle of feeling like we must choose between living a life that we truly accept and a life in which we are accepted.
Our dearly beloved community, you are our salvation -- we together are creating our continuing salvation -- the shelter, and the soil, and the fertilizing midges within which we can be us and belong.”
Listen To: U.S. Gay
Since coming out as bisexual, Anne-Marie has sought to create music that pays tribute to and normalizes differences amongst people, as well as speak to issues like sexuality, body dysmorphia and mental health. She has had multiple singles on the U.K. Singles Chart, and has recently broken into the mainstream U.S. music scene through her song with Marshmello, “Friends.”
Listen To: Perfect
Hailing from North Charleston, South Carolina, Parson James creates soulful music that speaks to the controversial issues he’s faced as a southern, biracial gay man, such as homophobia, racism and inequality, creating a dialogue around the uncomfortable but urgent subjects currently plaguing our nation.
Listen To: Sinner Like You
St. Vincent, aka Annie Clark, has long worked to add normalcy to the public perception of the LGBTQ community. As someone who identifies as neither gay nor straight, she stated in a Rolling Stones interview “we get handed down these ideas of gender and sexuality: You’re supposed to be this or that. What happens if you float around the cracks and don’t fit into these narrowly prescribed things?… I believe in gender and sexual fluidity…I think you can fall in love with anybody.” She uses her music to break through the standards and unite everyone together, saying "The great thing about music is that it transcends all the barriers and boundaries, and goes right to people’s hearts. And everyone has a heart."
Listen To: New York
Olly Alexander, Years & Years
Not only has Olly Alexander worked through interviews and charity campaigns to promote safer sex, HIV screening and anti-LGBTQ bullying initiatives, but he also released a BBC documentary called Growing Up Gay, in which he discusses his struggles with mental health and the prevalence of these issues among LGBTQ youth.
Listen To: Sanctify
He may only be 23, but Troye Sivan has worked tirelessly to spread the word on important topics in the LGBTQ community, like misconceptions regarding HIV and AIDS, homelessness, and internalized homophobia. Through his Youtube channel and music videos, he has increased visibility for those who identify as LGBTQ, to normalize the images and strengthen those who may feel the need to hide. The video for his song “Heaven” even uses footage of historical LGBTQ movements and couples, and videos from some of the earliest PRIDE Parades and protests. Says Sivan, “We have always been here. We will always be here. This video is dedicated to all who’ve come before me and fought for our cause and those who now continue the fight. In dark and light times, let’s love forever.”
Listen To: My My My!
Lynn Gunn, PVRIS
When Billboard asked her to write a Love Letter to the LGBT Community, Lynn Gunn spoke of the fear she felt of coming out to her family and the liberation that has followed for her and for the band and their audience. Gunn writes, “I never realized how impactful something as simple as being my authentic self and true to my heart would be for thousands of others out there.
Over the past few years it’s been the most powerful and humbling experience to watch the PVRIS fanbase become such a safe place for people of the LGBTQ community... Thank you for all the love, support and courage you have all given to me to be myself on this journey thus far, and thank you for the love, support and courage you have given yourselves and others around you. I want nothing more than for you all to feel the utmost love and freedom in being yourselves. You are all exceptionally magic.”
Listen To: White Noise
Self-identified as tri-bi (biracial, bisexual women living with bipolar disorder) Halsey is a no-brainer addition to this list. She has been more than outspoken on topics like race, sexuality, mental illness, suicide prevention and gender inequality. She bravely stood up to the Russian government’s persecution and torture of homosexual citizens during a 2017 concert. Her powerful speech on sexual abuse at the January 2018 Women’s March spoke to struggles and pain felt worldwide.
Ever the honest artist, when looking for a duet partner for Strangers, Halsey refused to do the song with a straight pop star (her label iniitally asked her to sing with Katy Perry) because she wanted it to be real. She then reached out to fellow bisexual artist Lauren Jauregui, and we’re so grateful she did.
Listen To: Strangers ft. Lauren Jauregui
Made up of three young queer women, MUNA is a band who wants their music to be “a service to people.” Naomi McPherson (producer and synths) says she, “[believes] that there are people that listen to us and connect with our messages that will then go and create something even more important than what we’ve created.”
When talking about the powerful anthem “I Know a Place,” lead vocalist Katie Gavin compares it to Yoko Ono’s pointed “War Is Over!” ad during the height of the Vietnam War. “We wrote our song to be the voice in your head that tells you to celebrate peace during wartime, because our battle is only just beginning, and one day our war really will be over.”
Listen To: I Know a Place
As a gay Muslim musician, Leo Kalyan knows a thing or two about adversity. When starting out, he used to hide his face behind artwork out of worry and concerns, only to have those fears come to fruition after he labels backing out of deals once he revealed his identity. One label employee was even overheard saying, “Yeah, Leo Kalyan, it would be so much easier if he was white.”
Through being boxed into ethnicity- or sexuality-based categories, a unique sound has emerged with escapism as a major theme. Kalyan once stated this is because “of the intersectionality of my life and way that it’s been…[escapism presents] a place which is borderless and free... Free of the kind of constraints and restrictions that someone like me feels the pressures of in their day to day life.”
Living in a time of a heavily anti-Muslim worldview mixed with being an openly gay man have caused him to explore deep, hard-hitting topics in his music. Kalyan has said, “I don’t know how far I can go, but I’ve created a small but significant platform to be able to effect change.”
Listen To: Fucked Up
LP is an artist who feels strongly against herself and other artists being seen as just “LGBTQ artists.” Rather than being segmented off, she believes this shouldn’t matter. Her goal is “inclusion...I’m truly interested in diversity and where that takes us.” LP also states “My path and my weapon is very much kindness, passion and inclusion. I want everybody to feel like they matter, and they can be whatever they want. That’s the biggest thing I’m trying to convey to the people who enjoy my music. That’s as much my life’s work as music -- to make someone feel better. She stresses, “There are people that have lived their whole lives in a ‘normal lifestyle’ that have been screaming in their heads the entire time, ‘This is not who I am.’ You think about that, y’know… If I’m about anything, I’m about being yourself and being nice about it.”
Listen To: Lost on You
After being a Disney darling, and then seemingly going off the rails, Miley Cyrus has since opened up about her own pansexuality and has worked hard to champion LGBTQ rights. From calling a teenage girl in Lansing, Michigan who was being bullied over a “Legalize Gay” T-shirt, to her #InstaPride campaign, she tries to make change on every level she can.
After the suicide of transgender teen Leelah Alcorn, Cyrus was inspired to found the nonprofit Happy Hippie Foundation with the mission to “rally young people to fight injustice facing homeless youth, LGBTQ youth, and other vulnerable populations… People who say WE can’t change the world ARE wrong. We will make some noise and cause a scene! We will challenge each other and the world will stop pointless judgment.”
Listen To: Inspired
You may recognize her from your mom’s musical archives, but her music and passion transcends the generational gap you may be imagining. Etheridge has been a huge activist since she publicly came out as a lesbian in 1993 at the Triangle Ball, a gay celebration of President Clinton’s first inauguration. She has been seen as a brave, outspoken advocate for LGBTQ rights, some of which include adoption and marriage liberties, as well as an advocate for medicinal/legal herbs and breast cancer following her battle with the disease.
Listen To: I’m the Only One
Now that you've seen some of the Tops LGBTQ Artists & Advocacy, listen to the playlist below for more LGBTQ artists and get your PRIDE on!