Though Pride Month is officially celebrated in June, it’s important to show love for and uplift the LGBTQ+ community year-round. Whether you’re loud and proud or an ally excited to support your bestie, a solid first step is to educate yourself on LGBTQ+ issues, experiences, and culture (
this list of movies and documentaries will help!). Solidarity also entails making a conscious effort to support the projects of LGBTQ+ artists. So, prepare to obsess over these LGBTQ+ musicians to add to your Pride playlist.
Over the last few years, the artistic contributions and talents of LGBTQ+ artists have grown increasingly visible in the music world. Although
anti-LGBTQ+ prejudice, hate, and discrimination remains a problem, some of today’s most beloved singers are openly queer, such as Frank Ocean, Demi Lovato, Lil Nas X, and Halsey. Research by Nielsen and GLAAD in 2016 revealed that artists who speak out on LGBTQ+ issues earn mostly positive attention from fans, rather than hate or negativity. However, even as the music industry becomes a safer space for queer individuals, LGBTQ+ artists are still fighting for inclusion and accurate representations of their experiences.
So, whether you identify as queer or simply recognize the importance of creating a more equitable world for marginalized individuals, save space in your music library for these 20 LGBTQ+ artists of various genres, identities, and popularity.
Indie soul artist Raveena has made huge waves in the alternative R&B space since the release of her acclaimed debut album,
Lucid, in 2019 . But she first delivered honeyed tunes about love with her 2017 EP, Shanti.
If you need something to listen to while taking a bubble bath or vibing with your boo, Raveena’s music is essential. The songstress' intersectional identity as a first-generation Indian American makes her art even more compelling. Not only have Raveena’s music videos depicted queer love beautifully and authentically, but the 26-year-old artist's music and visuals frequently pay homage to her Indian roots. Raveena has said her South Asian heritage and her bisexual identity are sometimes
“like oil and water,” however, inspiring other queer people to come out to their families and friends is something she’s grateful for.
K-pop tastemaker Go Tae-seob, whose stage name is Holland (inspired by the first country to legalize same-sex marriage), is a force to be reckoned with. Despite currently having a petite catalog, Holland consistently delivers poignant earworms worthy of putting on repeat. His biggest song to date, "I'm Not Afraid," is a bold proclamation of his identity as a gay man. The music video for his 2018 debut single, "Neverland," proudly showcases romance between him and
a male lover despite the prevalence of homophobia and lack of anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination laws in Holland's home country of South Korea. And while there’s a lack of LGBTQ+ representation in K-pop (he’s one of very few openly queer K-pop idols), Holland is determined to be the change he wants to see in the industry.
"When I was younger, there wasn’t a Korean idol singer who had openly come out or revealed their LGBTQ+ status,"
he told . "So during my schooling years, when I was going through a tough time, I was influenced a lot by Western LGBTQ+ pop artists. I knew we needed a similar figure in Korea... I believe my music is playing a role in broadening this conversation." Vogue in 2020
It's not common to see queer Black women in the rock music space, but WILLOW is carving a path of representation for them. The 20-year-old singer-songwriter has come a long way since 2010's radio-friendly "Whip My Hair," and her latest single featuring Travis Barker, "Transparent Soul," has earned
praise for its unique direction and punk-rock sound.
WILLOW's authenticity doesn't end with her music. For years, she's opened up about her identity as a bisexual woman who's open to polyamorous relationships. "I love men and women equally,”
WILLOW revealed on . “There are so many different types of people in this world and so many people to learn from, and I don’t see the benefit in not putting myself in a position to learn as much as I possibly can from as many people as I possibly can.” Red Table Talk in 2019
Known for creating mellow soul with bossa nova flair, 23-year-old
singer-songwriter Hope Tala is the indie darling you didn't know you were missing out on. Inspired by sounds from all over the world, the U.K. artist began songwriting as a teen, but she never expected her music to take off. However, her first two EPs, Starry Ache and Sensitive Soul, struck a chord with indie music lovers in 2018 and 2019, respectively . It’s a good thing they did, because now, Tala is part of the growing community of LGBTQ+ musicians who can represent the queer community at large.
“There are so many artists that I feel like we’re getting traction and the time of day from audiences and we’re being promoted to be seen by people who need to see us,"
Tala told . "There’s such a great music community in the LGBTQ+ world and that’s so amazing to see because when I was 14 that didn’t exist in the same way." Gay Times in May 2021
If you're going through a breakup or just need some anthemic, emo bops to sing along to, then New Jersey-born singer-songwriter Fletcher is your go-to girl. Penning emotionally charged lyrics backed by edgy pop production, the 27-year-old started putting out music independently in 2015.
Today, her hard work as an indie artist has paid off: She's signed with Capitol Records and has two wildly successful EPs that have earned her hundreds of millions of streams. Her newest project,
The S(ex) Tapes (2020) , is all about her relationship with her ex, YouTuber and LGBTQ+ activist Shannon Beveridge. With music like The S(ex) Tapes, Fletcher revealed to she wants to be "the artist I needed when I was a little kid.” Teen Vogue that
Kehlani is hands-down one of the most beloved singers in contemporary R&B right now, and for good reason. Not only is she an amazing performer whose honest lyrics are perfect for just about every mood, but she's also been totally open about discovering her own LGBTQ+ identity
. Her 2017 hit, "Honey," is an illustration of queer love , for example.
In April 2021, Kehlani came out as lesbian after
years of identifying as queer. She also addresses intersectionality in the LGBTQ+ community regularly, acknowledging she has numerous privileges as a “cisgender-presenting, straight-presenting” individual, and believes other people in the queer community — such as Black gay men, Black masculine women, or Black trans women — experience far more abuse and oppression than she does.
Delivering electro-R&B bops with so much swagger, Haitian Canadian music producer Kaytranada is required listening for anyone who loves hip-hop and soul infused with funk, disco, and dance vibes. Although Kaytra's debut album,
99.9%, is a masterpiece, his sophomore LP, BUBBA, earned him the award for Best Dance/Electronic Album at the 2021 Grammys.
As a Black gay man, Kaytra's openness about his sexuality is inspiring — particularly because being out in a space as
historically homophobic as hip-hop can be challenging. However, Kaytra has expressed how wonderful it is to see hip-hop become increasingly accepting. "I just saw Nas with Lil Nas X onstage at the Grammys," he told . "Like, [Nas is] a rapper who has probably said homophobic stuff, but just seeing them balancing each other and singing their song? I thought it was amazing. It's inspiring.” GQ in 2021
German pop princess Kim Petras introduced herself to the music world in 2017 with her
single "I Don't Want It All,” but since then, she's taken the world by storm with her refreshingly timeless music. Featuring irresistible elements of trap, synthpop, and glam rock, Petras' 2019 debut album Clarity is an amazing intro to her discography — and it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to label her the next Britney Spears. Aside from her solo work, she’s also collaborated with other pop sensations beloved by the queer community, like the late SOPHIE and Charli XCX.
Petras has said
she hopes her identity as a trans woman inspires people to realize "a transgender person can be known for anything but being transgender."
King Princess, the stage name of 22-year-old Mikaela Mullaney Straus, made her debut in 2018, and since then, she's always left her fans wanting more. Her first single, "1950," was an indie-pop smash, and three years later, it has over 400 million streams on Spotify alone. Her 2019 debut album,
Cheap Queen, didn’t disappoint either, earning acclaim from both critics and fans for its sonic diversity.
As a gay, genderqueer person, King Princess is part of a
group of LGBTQ+ individuals particularly underrepresented in the music industry — but voices like hers are so necessary. “Pop music is a lot more interesting when you got gay people," she told . “It's always been, you know? It's been about queer people. It's been about people of color. It's been about trans people. It's like, we need that... This world is ready." them in 2018
Multi-hyphenate talent Victoria Monét certainly isn't new to the music industry. For years, she's written songs for artists like Ariana Grande and Fifth Harmony. However, only recently has Monet risen to prominence as a solo performer
herself, and her music will leave you shook. Monét's most popular EP, Jaguar (2020), is the perfect place to start diving into her impressive discography of funk, soul, and disco-inspired R&B.
The EP's bold closing track, "Touch Me," is a spicy ode to the sexual connection between her and another woman
. As a bisexual woman, Monét sees the power in coming out as a popular artist. "[Over the years], [queer] people got brave and everyone saw they were just fine," Monét told . “And it gave [others] the courage to be honest. Hopefully, this cycle keeps going, because I know there are some people who may feel and identify this way, but aren’t ready to let the world know." Gay Times in 2020
Beloved by fans of alternative hip-hop and indie R&B, Kevin Abstract has earned himself comparisons to established alt kings like Frank Ocean and Tyler, the Creator. Doubling as both a solo artist and one of the vocalists in the alt-hip hop collective Brockhampton, Abstract consistently delivers raps as moody as they are catchy. With two albums out,
American Boyfriend (2016) and Arizona Baby (2019) , the 24-year-old has already delivered numerous hits, like “Peach” and “Big Wheels” — the latter elaborating on his experience as a gay man in the spotlight.
Despite being hailed a queer icon by fans, Abstract simply wants to be seen as a hip-hop artist. “I don’t want to be a queer icon,”
Abstract explained to NME in 2019. “I want to be an icon. In order to make a change, I have to exist in a traditionally homophobic space such as hip-hop. If I were to just be this queer rapper, who only spoke to queer kids… I don’t think I could as effectively make a change for another young, Black queer kid growing up in Texas.”
With a nod of approval from Elton John (who she’s already performed with, NBD), Rina Sawayama is taking the pop world by storm. Even though she’s been putting out bops since 2013, the Japanese British singer-songwriter left indie-pop lovers shook AF in 2017 with her debut EP,
Rina. Ever since, Sawayama has continued impressing critics and fans alike with her introspective lyrics, distinct voice, and cinematic instrumentations. Her debut album, Sawayama, was released in 2017 and is an addictive amalgamation of Y2K-inspired pop, rock, and R&B, featuring songs about consumption, identity, and friendship. However, one standout was the penultimate track, “Chosen Family,” an ode to the artist’s queer best friends.
“[The song] is a very special song for me,”
Sawayama told NME in 2020. “The concept of a chosen family is, to me, a queer one — people are often kicked out of their homes or ostracized by their family, friends, and community after coming out. This can be an incredibly painful experience that can be remedied by finding a new ‘chosen’ family.”
Eclectic and energetic, Shamir is a genre-bending artist who started killing the indie game way back in 2015 when he was just 19 years old. His debut LP,
Rachet, housed his most popular track to date, “On The Regular,” a house banger that’s impossible to not dance to. Six years later, his discography has grown into a diverse array of bops for just about everyone to enjoy; from pop and electronica lovers to indie rock and punk fans.
Shamir’s ability to perfect so many unique sounds comes down to his ability to think outside the box without conforming to gender expectations. “I always find it amazing that people get mad because they can’t figure out my gender,”
he told . “Even though my only job here is to create art, I think being a genderless figure… it shakes people. And when that happens it makes me feel like I’m doing my job... I never felt like a boy or a girl, never felt I should wear this or dress like that. I think that’s where that confidence comes from, because I never felt I had to play a part in my life. I just always come as Shamir.” The Guardian in 2015
In January 2021, news of SOPHIE’s death devastated the LGBTQ+ music community.
An unforgettable purveyor of electronica and experimentation, the 34-year-old talent made waves in both the music industry and the LGBTQ+ community with her infectious personality and fresh take on artful pop, inspired by her identity as a trans woman.
SOPHIE will be forever remembered in the LGBTQ+ community. “[She] was the cartographer of so many of our trans journeys, offering us guidance through coded lyrics and safe passage through sounds that vibrated with the badass bubble gum immateriality of our souls,”
wrote . “She approached every topic with the love, care, and intensity of someone who has truly lived,” them journalist Wren Sanders said musician A.G. Cook, who was also a close friend of SOPHIE’s.
From DJ'ing and production to singing and songwriting, SOPHIE’s artistry inspired an entire generation of queer individuals to continue discovering themselves — and did so with style, creativity, and authenticity. SOPHIE is missed by her community and music lovers alike, but her entire catalog — notably featuring her iconic 2018 album,
Oil of Every Pearl's Un-Insides, which included groundbreaking singles “It’s Okay To Cry” and “Faceshopping” — will be enjoyed for an eternity.
With a tattoo on his chest that reads "loverboy," Joesef has no shame in being an emotional romantic
. Heartbreak and love are common themes in the Scottish 25-year-old’s catalog. With his soft croon, tender lyrics, and beautiful instrumentations, Joesef writes, produces, and sings all of his own music. Songs like "Comedown" and "The Sun Is Up Forever" are the perfect soundtrack to your chill yet in-your-feelings moments.
But, if his talent as a one-man band hasn't made you swoon, his comfort with his identity might.
As someone who has "been with" both men and women, he's thankful for how open-minded his generation is when it comes to sexuality. “Honestly, it’s weird to be straight," he told . "It’s hard to find someone that hasn’t at least dabbled." His openness and positivity will hopefully inspire others to embrace their queerness. Attitude in 2020