Pride: 5 Influential LGBTQIA+ Musicians

11.06.2024
By superadmin

In celebration of Pride month, we’re spotlighting some of music’s most innovative queer artists and their monumental impact on the world. Pioneers, icons and philanthropists, these artists have inspired both fans and artists, and have advocated for the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community. Join us as we dive into 5 Influential LGBTQIA+ Musicians. 

Image by Jørund Føreland Pedersen via Wikimedia Commons 

Sir Elton John (1947 – Present)

Still standing as one of the best-selling music artists of all time, British singer, songwriter and pianist Reginald Kenneth Dwight started playing piano aged 3, beginning formal lessons at 7 and winning a junior scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music aged 11. After forming blues band Bluesology with his friends in 1962, John went on to begin writing music in partnership with Bernie Taupin in 1967, before releasing his debut studio album, Empty Sky, in 1969. With hits like ‘Your Song’, ‘Tiny Dancer’ and ‘Rocket Man’, John’s critical success was at its peak in the 70s, and it was during this time that he came out as bisexual – later coming out as gay in 1992. 

Known for his flamboyance and blend of pop and rock n’ roll, John has sold over 300 million records worldwide, and remains a musical legend, having success in musical films and theatre, as well as collaborating with many contemporary artists, including Dua Lipa and Lil Nas X. John has been a dedicated advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights, and established the Elton John AIDS Foundation in 1992, which has raised over $565 million to support HIV-related programs across ninety countries.

 

Image by Raph_PH via Wikimedia Commons

Lady Gaga (1986 – Present) 

Born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, we all know this eccentric superstar by her adopted stage name, Lady Gaga. Mother Monster began performing as a teenager, singing at open mic nights and acting in school plays before gaining early admission to  Collaborative Arts Project 21. Dropping out to pursue her music career, she worked as a songwriter for Sony/ATV Music Publishing after her contract fell through with Def Jam Recordings, later signing with Interscope Records and KonLive Distribution in 2007. Her 2008 debut studio album, The Fame and its singles ‘Just Dance’ and ‘Poker Face’ saw her breakthrough success, and she’s been unstoppable ever since.

An openly bisexual woman and gay icon, Gaga not only explores her sexuality and uplifts queer voices through her music (with ‘Born This Way’ in particular being one of the ultimate Pride anthems), but unwaveringly supports mental health awareness and LGBTQIA+ rights, establishing her non-profit organisation: Born This Way Foundation. 

Image by nikoretro via Flickr

Freddie Mercury (1946 – 1991)

Frontman of British rock band, Queen, Freddie Mercury’s  legacy endures as both one of the world’s most famous musicians, and an iconic queer trailblazer. Born in Zanzibar to Parsi-Indian parents in 1946, Mercury spent most of his childhood in India and began taking piano lessons aged 7. Fleeing the Zanzibar Revolution, he moved with his family to England in 1964, where he formed Queen alongside Brian May and Roger Taylor in 1970. 

With a plethora of hits, including ‘Love Of My Life’, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and ‘I Want To Break Free’- in which its iconic music video features the band dressed in drag, Queen remains one of the greatest rock bands ever, with Mercury in particular captivating audiences with his impressive four-octave vocal range and flamboyant, camp, and theatrical stage persona. Tragically passing in 1991, Mercury was the first major rock star to die of AIDS-related complications, and his death marked a significant event in the history of the disease. In 1992, the remaining members of Queen founded The Mercury Phoenix Trust, which has since raised millions of pounds for various AIDS charities, and organised The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert for AIDS Awareness to celebrate Mercury’s life and raise money for AIDS research. 

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Janelle Monáe (1985 – Present)

Raised Baptist in Kansas, American singer, songwriter, and actress Janelle Monáe Robinson learned to sing at a local church, and aspired to be a singer from a young age, citing the fictional character of Dorothy Gale from The Wizard of Oz, as well as the album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, as musical inspirations. Releasing their demo album, The Audition, in 2003, Monáe signed with Big Boy Records in 2005, and went on to release a series of concept albums, including their 2018 critically acclaimed album, Dirty Computer. This Prince-inspired, Grammy-nominated album’s lead single in particular, ‘Make Me Feel’, was received well, reaching number nine on the Billboard Hot R&B Song chart, and is praised as a bisexual anthem. 

Identifying as pansexual, Monáe came out publicly as non-binary in 2022, stating in an interview with Los Angeles Times that their “pronouns are free-a** m**********r—and they/them, her/she”. Monáe continuously celebrates and explores their sexuality and identity through their music and fashion (shout out to their signature tuxedos), and consistently uses their platform to advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community and champion queer representation. 

Image by Mandy C. via Wikimedia Commons 

George Michael (1963 – 2016)

Rising to fame as one half of 80s British pop duo, Wham!, pop icon Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou adopted the more accessible stage name George Michael. Renowned for his songwriting, vocal performance and visual artistry, Michael remains one of the biggest artists of the MTV generation, having had major success and hits both in a group and as solo artist, including: ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go’, ‘Careless Whisper’, ‘Faith’ and the beloved Christmas classic ‘Last Christmas’ 

After being outed in 1998 following an arrest for public lewdness, Michael came out as gay, and defiantly embraced the incident and his sexuality by releasing his celebratory disco anthem ‘Outside’. Until his tragic passing on Christmas Day in 2016,  Michael dedicated much of his life to advocacy and philanthropy, being an active LGBTQIA+ rights campaigner and HIV/AIDS charity fundraiser. A patron of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Michael and John collaborated through their 1991 single ‘Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me’, dividing its proceeds amongst 10 different charities for children, AIDS and education.

Image by Heinrich Klaffs via Flickr

Thumbnail Image by Jørund Føreland Pedersen via Wikimedia Commons 

Featured Image by Kim Metso via Wikimedia Commons