Many musicians translate their feelings, thoughts, experiences, and stories into their music. Lucky for those who don’t have the magical skill of expressing ourselves through sound, we get to listen and relate to what we hear. And sometimes, you don’t want to listen to another boy-meets-girl-and-breaks-her-heart song (although sometimes you do because the beat is just so damn catchy). Instead you search for that rare gem of a girl-meets-girl-and-breaks-her-heart song, because the beat is good AND the lyrics make you feel like you belong, are loved, are included, are okay. Relatable content—that’s all we want. So, if you identify as a member of the LGBTQ+ community—or you’re just curious about this article’s title and are looking for some queer music suggestions—I’ve got you.
Let’s jump in.
To start us off, Google “Lesbian Jesus” and you’ll come across the artist Hayley Kiyoko. You’re welcome. While scrolling, you might also find a music video for her song “Girls Like Girls” with a current view count of over 97 million. Rewind three years to when the music video was released and you’ll find the dreams of every closeted or questioning girl who can’t help but imagine either getting “rescued” or “rescuing” her romantic interest fulfilled. After the video’s success, Hayley and her team seemed to have realized that they had tapped into an underrepresented market that had a thirst for content that reflected their own experiences and daydreams. Today, Hayley has become an icon for the female-identifying queer community. Why her and not any past queer female musical artist? Who knows, but I’m glad it happened. Using her platform as a voice for the entire LGBTQ+ community, Hayley brings other up-and-coming creative queer folk into the spotlight, each with their own story to tell and relating to someone out there (I’m almost 100% sure of that). Whether you love or hate her music, it’s nice to have an artist that is openly gay, loud, and absolutely unapologetic about it.
Mikaela Straus, who goes by “King Princess”, is a singer-songwriter identifying as genderqueer and gay. Their big break came with the song “1950” inspired by the book The Prince of Salt by Patricia Highsmith, which was later adapted into the captivating lesbian film Carol. So yes, I fell in love with the voice first. Then I saw the music video for “Upper West Side” which has lots of puppies and lots and lots of dreamy looks into the camera/your soul. And let me tell you—my queer ass had to accept that another crush was born. Drawing lines between queer love, comparisons to societal norms, Straus is ready to take on the role of another real life example for queer youth. Today, King Princess gains a fan base made up of LGBTQ+ youth and allies, including the likes of Harry Styles (who tweeted a lyric of 1950 shortly after its release). The young artist is surely on the way to stardom. P.S. Concert in Toronto January 20!!
Not gonna lie—I first learned about this artist through a news article reporting on a lesbian rapper directing a porno showing women only. I mean… you don’t see content like that every day. Skeptical but intrigued I did more digging—who is Young M.A.? And no, it’s not Young “ma” as in “mama”, it’s M.A. and it stands for “Me Always.” Although her big rise in the public eye was with the single "Ooouuu" released in 2016 (the track is now triple-platinum, hellooo), I must admit my favourite of hers is “EAT.” The power in the song is insane, which can only be explained by the fact that the recording was made as an impulse diss track. Not only does the rapper speak openly about her sexuality, but she uses her past troubles in life as baselines for the stories she tells with her coming out as only part of who she is, not the main point. The new producer’s rapping skills are often compared to the likes of Eminem or Drake (now there’s a range… make of that what you will). The rap world is a male-dominated field, and Young M.A. is taking it by storm.
Although the incredible artist has been around for a while, Monáe’s rocket to fame launched after starring in Hidden Figures, a movie about three incredible African-American women working at NASA (Editors note: which she was fantastic in! My note: true.). Following her role in the film, Monáe released a song and an accompanying music video about vaginas. Yup, the vagay-gays. The music video features herself and peers in pink vaginal-looking attire, which, unexpectedly, caused quite the commotion and in turn led to speculation about the star’s sexuality. Definitely worth a watch if you ask me. During an interview with Rolling Stone in April 2018, Monáe spoke out about her sexuality, saying: "Being a queer black woman in America—someone who has been in relationships with both men and women—I consider myself to be a free-ass motherfucker." And you know what? More power to ya, Janelle.
Remember the girl that oh-so-passionately kissed Demi Lovato on stage during her performance of the song Lonely and broke headlines the next day? That was Kehlani. It was as if the whole world suddenly had an awakening that queers can publicly show affection just like everyone else! Who would have thought that that’s really all we want?! Identifying as queer and pansexual, Kehlani took to her personal Twitter in April 2018 to explain why she identified with the term queer over gay. "[Gay] always insisted there was still a line drawn as to which 'label' of human I was attracted… I am queer,” she singer said. “Not bi, not straight. I'm attracted to women, men, REALLY attracted to queer men, non-binary people, intersex people, trans people. Lil poly pansexual papa hello good morning. Does that answer your questions?” Going back to Hayley Kiyoko for a hot second, the two recently released a collaboration “What I Need”—a whole drama movie in itself. The music video takes you on quite the rebellious adventure of looove. Oh, and she’s vegan (hello queer stereotypes that you are welcome to embrace and own).
Canadian, eh? This one is Toronto-based! To make her even more relatable, she used to be an intern at Arts & Crafts Productions near Spadina. As stated by The FADER, Wilson is “a one-person powerhouse” as she is mostly self-taught in music, but owes a large part of skill and knowledge to her music-engulfed family, piano lessons, and GarageBand on her Mac. Today, without a label and refusing to follow the boys-club culture, Charlotte stated for NOW Toronto that she was ready and eager to become a role model for the upcoming music artists of the city. Don’t let her lack of label representation fool you though—Wilson has been working with the likes of Daniel Cesar, whether it’s on his album Freudian or on onstage. Identifying as queer, this girl has my heart (or maybe it’s the soulful music she creates wrapped in her smooth vocals… I haven’t decided yet).
When asked during an interview with Rolling Stone whether she identified as gay or straight, Annie Clark—known widely by the stage name St. Vincent—responded, "I don't think about those words. I believe in gender fluidity and sexual fluidity. I don't really identify as anything… I think you can fall in love with anybody. I don't have anything to hide, but I'd rather the emphasis be on music.” As a personal supporter of being known for your achievements first, I support Annie Clark’s statement. As for the music? It’s the perfect combination of walking down a street in slow motion and giving that cute girl walking past you a flirty eye. For more gay, check out the music video for Fast Slow Disco A.K.A. Gay Disco (the unofficial title). Now, to feed your give me gay romance appetite (not that it’s any of our business), it has been speculated that this lovely being was once involved with Kristen Stewart and Cara Delevingne. Rumors are no fun, but thinking that there’s a celebrity romance that you might relate to somewhere out there is a nice thought to have.
A classic and another Canadian, eh? Originally from Calgary, Alberta, the identical twins have both been around, loud, and proud for a while—since 1998 to be exact, when their musical careers began. Growing their fan base largely in the LGBTQ+ community, the two continue working on giving queer folk a voice. Known for quirky banter during their concerts, the two write songs about love, heartbreak, friends, life adventures—and all of it sounds amazing. Want gay specific stuff? Check out “Closer” or “Love They Say”—both presented as “the gayest songs we have” at separate concerts, both subtle about their gayness… but we know. A fun fact: Tegan and Sara were the closing show in Yonge-Dundas Square for Pride 2014 in Toronto. Another fun fact: you know those "Gay behaviour is found in over 1500 species. LGBTQ equality now" shirts that have been copied, re-copied, and reprinted? Yeah, the sisters started that in partnership with Revel & Riot. Go—support the original.
There are so many other queer artists that you should be following, and definitely more to come out (both literally and metaphorically). But if you’re interested in expanding your music library, this is a good place to start. I am so grateful to have these artists and so many more representing our diverse community in the music industry. What’s comforting is that there are many bi-curious artists out there as well who express this curiosity through their music. Now, say what you want (talking to you bi-curious non-appreciators), but I believe that the sole fact that today we are ABLE to have music that talks about sexual fluidity, exploration, and experiences—and do so openly—is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. However, I also do agree that getting your heart trampled by someone just testing out their bi-curiosity on you is no fun... but that’s a discussion for another day.
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