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Music News

The Progress to Pride: LGBTQIA+ Artists of Years Past

todayJune 8, 2021

Background

The Pride Month of yesteryears wasn’t necessarily the same as Pride today. As we celebrate members of the LGBTQIA+ community this month, it’s important to take note of past artists that have made massive strides for the community. From impactful events like Stonewall to now, here are only some of the pivotal queer artists that have helped make pride what it is today:

TRACY CHAPMAN

American Singer/Songwriter

Though it’s not entirely clear what Chapman identifies as her sexuality, she surely is a powerhouse of the LGBTQIA+ Community. The artist made numerous headlines with her self-titled record and has since gone on to win multiple Grammy awards including “Best Rock Song”. She was also included in Rolling Stone’s 2010 list “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time” with “Fast Car“. The song is the highest-ranked song on the list that was solely written and performed by a female artist.

Listen: “Fast Car“, “Give Me One Reason

SIR ELTON JOHN 

English Pop Artist

There is something to be said about an artist that can be so impactful that they are knighted. Sir Elton also is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Songwriters Hall of Fame, and Hollywood Walk of Fame. With the help of his songwriting partner Bernie Taupin, the large discography of the artist has stood the test of time. His life and extravagant costumes were also chronicled in the 2019 biopic “Rocketman”. “The Lion King” soundtrack curator recently went on his farewell tour and has collaborated and contributed to multiple LGBTQIA+ artists and causes.

Listen: “Tiny Dancer“, “Your Song

GEORGE MICHAEL 

London Music Act

Thanks to music from the duo “Wham!” and his solo work, George Michael became one of the most popular out artists of his generation. The London native, who has sold over 115 million records worldwide, remains one of the best-selling music acts throughout history. Michael initially came out as bisexual, but eventually came into his one as a gay man. A multitude of his songs can be heard in a lot of pop culture material. This can especially be said of his song “Careless Whisper“. As well as being a member of the community, he also raised money and awareness to fight the AIDS epidemic.

Listen: “Faith“, “Careless Whisper

MELISSA ETHERIDGE

Soft Rock Songstress

It seems like there is nothing Melissa Etheridge can’t conquer. The award-winning artist has continued to amplify the queer community even after surviving her breast cancer diagnosis.  She has received a total of 15 Grammy nominations, 2 Grammy wins, and even an Academy Award for “Best Original Song”. She also received her own star on the Hollywood walk of fame, similar to Sir Elton John. She has also taken her stab at Broadway with a role in the Green Day Musical “American Idiot“. The singer now is happily married to Linda Wallem and continues to craft new rock/country music.

Listen: “I’m the Only One“, “Come To My Window

SYLVESTER

Queer Disco Personality

The Dance Music Hall of Fame inductee and so-called “Queen Of Disco” was one of the first queer musician men to be openly flamboyant and androgynous. The show-stopping star originally started by embracing 1960’s counterculture and joining the troupe “The Cockettes”. It was only after the performer went solo however embraced commercial success. Sylvester, unfortunately, gained LGBTQIA+ icon status posthumously with his gospel-inspired disco discography. Though the singer has passed, a multitude of artists have noted inspiration from the artist.

Listen: “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)”, “Do You Wanna Funk?”

FREDDIE MERCURY

Gay Rock Icon

It is hard to believe anyone cannot know the Queen frontman legend, but there are not enough things to say about him. BBC ranked him the 58th greatest Briton to ever live and that might be an understatement. The singer has been inducted into the Rock and Roll, Songwriters, and UK Music Hall of Fames and lives on as a music legend. His four-octave vocal range, confident stage presence, and flamboyant spirit truly made the artist one of a king. His life was portrayed in an Oscar award-winning performance by Rami Malek in the biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” named after Queen’s biggest hit.

Listen: “Bohemian Rhapsody“, “Don’t Stop Me Now

DAVID BOWIE

Gender-Bending Space Oddity 

It says something when no only an artist, but their iconography has been able to supersede generations. Rolling Stone named him in the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time” and later named him as the “Greatest Rock Star Ever” after his death in 2o16. His alter-ego Ziggy Stardust has become a cult-classic staple. The artist became critically acclaimed for his music utilizing a blend of various genres. Bowie at one point labeled his sexuality as bisexual, but took it back as he noted himself as both gender and sexually fluid. Although it may not be super clear what the jack-of-all-trades considers his identity, it’s undeniable his impact on both the music and fashion worlds.

Listen: “Changes“, “Heroes

MARSHA P. JOHNSON 

Drag Queen/Stonewall Activist

There simply wouldn’t be a Pride without Marsha P. Johnson. The self-identified drag queen, who has been rumored to be the first person to throw a brick in the Stonewall Inn Riots, was central to the 1960’s gay scene. This is especially true for those in the community that lived in New York City as Marsha was nick-named “Mayor of Christopher Street”. From modeling for Andy Warhol to performing in the drag troupe “Hot Peaches”, the activist was involved in an abundant number of projects. Johnson also was a huge AIDS activist, in particular with ACT UP. Johnson could be argued to be the reason pride month even exists. That should honestly be all that needs to be said to include the legend themself on this list.

 

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Written by: Caden Coleman

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