Tumultuous is the word that best describes the last year many of us have had. As a result, we could all use some love in our lives.
However, this has not always been easy for some. Finding songs that reflect an individual’s experience can be difficult enough, but for queer people – even with the rise of many queer artists – it can still seem like they exist on the fringes of society.
To celebrate Pride Month, we compiled a list of some of our favorite LGBTQ+ anthems.
From sugary Pop perfection to provocative R&B jams, check out our list of LGBTQ+ anthems below…
Lady Gaga – Born This Way
In the decade since its release, ‘Born This Way’ has become a bonafide anthem of self-affirmation.
Arriving at a time when the social and Pop cultural climate wasn’t as embracing of such bold declarations of LGBTQ+ pride, its release was very much a risk for Gaga. Particularly given that she was at the top of the Pop pack at the time.
Years on, it’s undoubtedly a risk that paid off. It’s saved lives, validated existences, and serves as an enduring mantra for millions.
Rina Sawayama – Cherry
Long before her rise to fame, Rina Sawayama still rallied her call for equality and love for all. Case in point, ‘Cherry,’ which serves two purposes: an open letter to her pansexuality and being one love song Cupid would be jealous he didn’t write.
Diana Ross – I’m Coming Out
Nile Rodgers reported that ‘The Boss’ Diana Ross had no clue that ‘I’m Coming Out’ was related to the gay experience when she recorded the song for her self-titled 1980 album. However, learning such was by no means a deterrent to push forward with the double entendre-cloaked hit. Now the quintessential LGBTQ+ tune, the empowerment effort has almost become synonymous with queer self-acceptance and earned Ross – who was already an icon in the community – a cemented spot.
Frank Ocean – Thinkin Bout You
As lyrical storytellers go, Frank Ocean’s pen-game is fairly prolific. And one of the most prominent examples of this is ‘Thinkin Bout You’ from his 2012 breakthrough album ‘Channel Orange.’
For so long (too long), the humanity of queer romance was underrepresented.
Yet on this delicate, yet hard-hitting declaration of emotion, Ocean shares a queer love story that manages to be both universal and personal.
Indeed, its genius is the fact that while listeners of any orientation can find relatability, the song turns the volume up on the nuance of the LGBTQ+ experience. One that went unsung for so long.
Ocean being a Black male artist, whose orientation wasn’t known until that point, re-affirms how much of a barrier breaker both he and the song are.
The Aces – Daydream
This Indie-pop gem features one of the catchiest choruses of the century, not to mention it tackles subject matter we can all relate to: being away from the one we love and dreaming of being back with them again. Even if we are left to daydream about our potential relationships, The Aces crafted this absolute masterpiece to remind us that sometimes daydreams can manifest themselves as a reality, and we are all the better for it.
Janelle Monae – Pynk / Make Me Feel
In 2018, Janelle Monae came out as pansexual – and set Google searches alight in the process. Bringing the term to public consciousness in ways like never before, the then-32-year-old capitalized on the buzz from her announcement by letting the music found from her third studio album – ‘Dirty Computer’ – do the talking for her. Her highly suggestive music videos for the set’s singles, ‘Pynk’ and ‘Make Me Feel,’ served as decrees to the degrees of her sexual fluidity and pride (while featuring guest appearances from then-rumored girlfriend/actress Tessa Thompson).
Troye Sivan – Bloom
On an album as packed with LGBTQ+ anthems as Troye Sivan’s ‘Bloom’ is, it’s hard to pick one. However, the one that stands out the most is the title track. An alluring mid-tempo synth-pop song, ‘Bloom’ is rumored to be an ode to bottoming, but blossoms with the beauty of a flower. It’s a Pop tour de force from one of music’s most compelling artists.
George Michael – Freedom
8 years before Pop legend George Michael officially came out (and commemorated the experience with the shocking ‘Outside’ music video), the GRAMMY winner made many-a-subtle (and not-so-subtle) nod to his sexuality via his music. In hindsight, the most expressive came via his 1990 hit, ‘Freedom,’ which is lined with lyrics about bucking a system that purports individualism while simultaneously suppressing it. The song now serves as an LGBTQ+ anthem for its anthemic chorus.
MNEK – Tongue
Having helmed hits for the likes of Beyonce and Little Mix, MNEK proved that he well-equipped to bring the heat with his own music too.
This bodacious bop takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to relay a narrative of queer attraction.
The production, the harmonies, the honesty, and the sonic intricacies make this an eternal banger.
Hayley Kiyoko – What I Need
Having been affectionately dubbed “Lesbian Jesus,” it’s no surprise that Hayley Kiyoko does not have a shortage of LGBTQ+ anthems. At the peak of her song mountain is the synth-heavy ‘What I Need,’ an ode to an all-or-nothing relationship with her female love interest. To further cement this anthem as one for the LGBTQ+ community, she brought along Kehlani for a feature on the track to create the best combination since peanut butter and jelly, giving us exactly what we need.
Here’s a playlist with a few additional gems too:
Do you agree with our picks?