Pride Month celebrations are almost always a great opportunity to hear the music that most resonates with the LGBTQ+ community, from Kylie Minogue (stream Padam Padam, the unofficial 2023 Pride anthem) to Tegan and Sarah. With that in mind, there’s a world of LGBTQ+ musicians out there who are pushing the boundaries of their genres and the music industry, breaking down barriers and putting queer art on the map. While there are very famous LGBTQ+ artists like Elton John, Lil Naz X and Lady Gaga who have dominated charts and enjoyed mainstream success, we wanted to highlight artists you maybe don’t know very well or who are on the up and deserve all the success they’re enjoying.
A self-described drag monster, Lynks is one of the most exciting artists to come out of the UK in the past 10 years. His music is an addictive mix of heavy electronic beats with a near-spoken word poetry style of vocal delivery and some of the most quotable lyrics you’ve ever heard. Lynks is a provocative artist who makes music that is so decidedly queer-forward that it feels in places like a direct protest masked (wink wink) by the humour and catchy hooks that make you stream his songs over and over. Standouts from Lynks include “Silly Boy” and “Str8 Acting”.
Now only the second person to win Eurovision multiple times, Loreen is one of the biggest success stories from the recent years of the contest. Loreen came out as bisexual in 2017 and has utilised her elevated platform to promote human rights and perform at many pride festivals. She seamlessly blends Scandi pop sounds with influences from her Moroccan background and global music trends to create a unique symphonic experience. Loreen is also an incredibly dynamic performer with a stage presence unmatched in the Eurovision Winner’s circle. Standouts in her discography include her winning songs “Euphoria” and “Tattoo”, but check out her less-known songs such as “I’m in it With You” and “Statements” to really soak up the vibe of her music.
3. Villano Antillano
Puerto Rican Rapstress Villano Antillano is one of the most important contemporary Latin music musicians. Her impeccable delivery makes even the most conservative fans of the genre pay attention to her. Her first EP, Tiranía, highlighted the injustices faced by LGBTQ+ people in Latin America and established her as the definitive trans-femme figure in the Reggaeton and Urbano space. She gained global acclaim with her Bizarrap Session, which is considered one of the best the producer has ever made, thanks to Villano’s powerful lyrics and infectious flows. Other standout tracks from her include “Mujerón” with Ptazeta and anything from her 2022 album La sustancia X.
4. Orville Peck
Possibly the best-known artist on this list, Orville Peck is the new king of country music (no, I will not be taking any questions at this time). Orville released his first album in 2019 and hasn’t slowed down since then, releasing his follow-up, Bronco, in 2022. Orville is best identified because of the mask that he chooses to wear when he performs, making him the second gay artist on this list that utilises a face covering as part of their persona. His voice is simply like honey and sounds like a classic country star’s with the same deep and melodic qualities that make his music feel timeless. Peck has continually released quality music, including a collab with Lady Gaga for her Born This Way 10th-anniversary album reissue and a stellar cover of “Jackson” with Trixie Mattel. My personal favourite from Orville is “Kalahari Down” from his second album. Still, his music deserves to be listened to the old-fashioned way, from track 1 to the album close, with no interruptions or shuffling.
Most famous for competing on Canada’s Drag Race and RuPaul’s Drag Race UK vs The World, Lemon is an exciting up-and-coming rapper who should not be underestimated. Her talents first became known in a girl group challenge on Drag Race, and from there, she has run with her status as one of the best rappers in the Drag Race Universe. She solidified her position as one to watch with her explosive verse on fellow Alum Priyanka’s song “Come Through”, which went viral on TikTok and had me in a chokehold for weeks. Since her breakout success on Priyanka’s song, she has gone on to put out her own music with the promise of more to come. I’d recommend starting with her song “Big Bank” before dipping into her on Reve’s “Tongue” and her verse on Loosey LaDuca’s viral trank “Let Loose (Andrew’s Angels Version)”, which also features vocals from Jan Sport.
6. Girl in Red
Norwegian singer Girl in Red is the second Scandinavian on our list and identifies as a lesbian. Her music is in a similar vein to Taylor Swift’s more acoustic cuts and Pheobe Bridgers but with a unique and distinctive point of view. Girl in Red has been a runaway success story since her beginnings in 2017, now having multiple songs go Gold in the USA and is set to be one of the opening acts on Swift’s ongoing Eras Tour. Her music is perfect for days when you want to enjoy quality musicality and tender vocals with a big cup of tea wrapped in a big blanket. Her standout songs are “Serotonin”, “We Fell in Love in October” and her breakout song “I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend”.
7. Peach PRC
One of the new princesses of hyperpop, Peach PRC is an Australian musician well known for her very personal content on TikTok. She released her debut single, “Blondes”, in 2019 independently and has subsequently released many more songs, each more infectious and intelligent than the last. Her music is evocative of early 2000s pop music with a definitive 2020s twist that creates a distinctive and addictive sound that commands you to pay attention. Her largely autobiographic songwriting rivals titans like Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo in its honesty and impact, and her lyrical content feels radically honest. Peach is one of the most exciting artists putting out music right now, and I know that she’s going to continue growing creatively and delivering bops for us all. Her latest EP, Manic Dream Pixie, is a truly stacked project with no skips, apart from that, knockout tracks from her include “Heavy”, “Josh” and “God is a Freak”.
8. Rina Sawayama
Rivalling Orville Peck on this list for notoriety, Rina Sawayama is a Japanese-born British singer-songwriter who makes songs that are no less than pop perfection. An electrifying performer, Rina uses a broad palette when creating music blending 2000s pop with heavy metal, J-Rock, and electronica to make something uniquely her own. Rina recently starred in John Wick 4 and is a runaway success story for a queer artist of colour in the mainstream entertainment industry. Sawayama is a true dynamo on the stage. Having seen her live, I can confirm that she sounds identical live to her albums, and her ability to whip up a crowd and make a space where everyone is free to dance like nobody’s watching is truly a gift. For people new to Rina, start with her biggest single, “This Hell”, before dipping into “Chosen Family”, which has been recorded once as a solo and once with Elton John. For a complete Rina Sawayama experience, listen to her albums Sawayama and Hold the Girl back to back. You won’t regret it.
9. Chrissy Chlapeka
Another TikTok legend, Chrissy Chlapeka, is the mother of the TikTok bimbo revolution. While she is best known for making content that encourages the girls, the gays, and the theys to be themselves or that centres on dragging misogynists and homophobes a la Drew Afualo, she has started releasing music too. Her debut single, “I’m so Hot”, is nothing short of a banger and the following single “Alpha”, is pretty damn iconic. While she has only a small number of songs available right now, watch this space because I know if she continues to release music this good, she will be dominating the charts in no time.
Sophie was a Scottish DJ and producer who passed away tragically in 2021. She was, and still is, one of the most influential figures in pop music and worked with a number of artists, most well known for working with queer icon Charli XCX. Sophie produced and released her own music, releasing three albums that resonated with many people in the queer community. When fellow transwoman Kim Petras won her first Grammy recently, she credited Sophie with paving the way for her as a transgender individual in the music industry. Charli XCX also dedicated her album, Crash, to Sophie and has spoken many times about how important Sophie was to her as a collaborator and friend. Sophie is on our list because her impact and influence in the music that so many LGBTQ+ love and identify with is unmatched.
11. Big Freedia
Big Freedia is a rapper from New Orleans known for their distinctive hyped-up delivery and works with artists such as Kesha and Beyoncé. Freedia is openly non-binary and has served as a link between the musical traditions of past generations of black queer individuals in the USA and modern popular music. Their sound is heavily influenced by the musical heritage of their home state of Louisiana, and they are a leader in the bounce subgenre of hip-hop. Big Freedia’s music is the kind of music that is impossible to listen to and not feel like you can conquer the world. Their flow and delivery is so uplifting and energetic that it rubs off on the listener and motivates you to accomplish anything. In fact, if we started pumping their music into corporate offices, I think everyone would be way happier and probably more productive. Check out their songs with Bey and Kesha to get you started, then dip into their solo work to really get going.