Today I bring you part one of my favourite Queer anthems for pride month, yes I am posting it a little later than wanted but we should be full of pride all year round.
Sugar on The Rim by Hayley Williams
In the past year, Hayley Williams has released two solo albums and an EP, all exploring what it means to be a woman on the inside and out, while also facing many of her own demons, mental health and relationships along the way.
These are deeply personal albums from the feminist art-rock sounds of the 2020 ‘Petals for Armor’, which she has stated came from the idea that “the best way for me to protect myself is to be vulnerable”, to the acoustic sounds of her EP ‘Petals for Armor: Self-Serenades’. This EP includes one of her favourite songs she wrote in the Lockdown year of 2020, ‘Find Me Here’.
‘Sugar on The Rim’ is one that Hayley herself has said is “for the gays” and you can hear why, with the lyrics portraying a new and exciting relationship and experience, it doesn’t alienate anyone by using pronouns to distinguish gender. The song is something you would hear in a club, which seems like a far-off idea while we still tackle a global pandemic, but with it’s 80’s dance beat and art-rock sound, it’s a song I regularly put on in my room and dance to.
Cut To The Feeling by Carly Rae Jepsen
Cut To The Feeling, released on 26th May 2017, is a favourite of the LGBTQ+ community during pride month, being very popular on tik-tok. With its poppy beat and inspirational lyrics, it’s a song that can make you feel good no matter what life throws your way.
Even through “Cut To the Feeling” was released in 2017, it was actually written during the recording of Jepsen’s third studio album “Emotion” . It was finally included on the Japanese exclusive album, re-titled “Emotion: B Side +” which was released on 13th September 2017.
Where Does the Good Go by Tegan and Sara
For me this is hands down one of my favourite songs by Canadian Indie Pop duo Tegan and Sara. I’ve always loved this song, but it’s taken on a new meaning for me since I started watching Greys Anatomy. This is a song for lovers and friends, with no gender specified within the lyrics means it’s perfect for anyone in the queer community who is in love or going through heartbreak.
As Tegan and Sara are identical twins and are both openly gay, I could not not include them in this list. The pair are highly active politically and are socially engaged, being advocates for LGBTQ equality as well as music education, literacy, and cancer research. You can find Where Does the Good Go on their 2004 album So Jealous.
True Trans Soul Rebel by Against Me!
As a big fan of Punk music, I have always loved Against Me! When Laura Jane Grace, the bands lead singer, guitarist and songwriter came out as a Transgender woman, I applauded her bravery and her being the most punk human being I had ever seen. Laura now gets to live her life publicly and authentically and if she has the courage to do that, in a world that hasn’t always been kind to the Trans community, then I think we all can.
True Trans Soul Rebel was originally released as part of the True Trans acoustic EP on 12th July 2013 as a free download for anyone who had pre-ordered tickets to Laura Jane Grace’s August 2013 tour, the EP would be released free of charge for a limited time through the band’s website on 15th July that same year. It was included on the bands sixth studio album Transgender Dysphoria Blues, released on 21st January 2014. The album is a beautiful and sometimes sad and celebratory look at gender dysphoria and explores Laura’s journey to transitioning and coming out.
Dancing On My Own by Robyn
Dancing On My own by Swedish singer, songwriter, producer and DJ, Robyn had a profound effect on me upon it’s release in April 2010. By this point in my life, I was already an openly Queer woman, but hearing this song and the lyrics spoke to me on a personal level. The song may be about the dissolution of her engagement but the way it is written means you can put yourself in her shoes and decide which person you are talking about.
The song is a beautiful look at loneliness, longing and has an inherently sad gay disco anthem vibe, which actually inspired the synth-pop track. Robyn is a Highley successful LGBTQ icon, who’s music crosses all genders, sexualities and religions, making for a truly inclusive experience when listening to her music, Charlie XCX has said “Robyn has definitely been part of paving the way for pop stars who fall a little to the left of the Top 40 norm.”
Girls Like Girls By Hayley Kiyoko
I hadn’t actually heard this song until quite recently and I’m so glad I did, it is a fun pop anthem that deals with the idea of a girl stealing another man’s girl. The reason for not hearing it upon its initial release is because I was very much deep into punk music and also, I had a child under 1, which isn’t conducive of hearing new music, or remembering anything from that time period. But it feels amazing to hear more songs like this on the radio and appreciated by the mainstream.
Girls Like Girls was released as a part of Hayley Kiyoko’s second EP This Side of Paradise released 3rd February 2015. Before being released as a single that June. Kiyoko is an openly Queer singer and actress, identifying as a lesbian, coming out to her parents in sixth grade, before finally going public after the release of this song. Like myself, Kiyoko took great inspiration from Tegan and Sara along with Katy Perry’s I Kissed a Girl, taking comfort in that part of ourselves being represented in pop music. She has said “If you see two girls falling in love and normalizing that, then [people] can go, ‘I can fall in love, too. I can be that person. I can look like that. I can get a girl that looks like that.’ If they see that, then they can believe it. It’s just how we are.”
Fast Car By Tracy Chapman
Tracy Chapman is an American singer songwriter who came to prominence due to her hugely popular song Fast Car. She has never disclosed her sexual orientation, writer Alex Walker reviled that the two had been romantically involved in the 90s, meaning that Chapman is a black queer woman. She is very adamant at keeping her work and personal life separate saying “I have a public life that’s my work life and I have my personal life, in some ways, the decision to keep the two things separate relates to the work I do.”
Chapman is politically and socially active identifying as a feminist while donating her time and supporting such causes as AIDS/LifeCycle, Amnesty International, Make Poverty History and amfAR. She has also sponsored an essay writing contest for high school students known as Crossroads in Black History. Fast Car is a folk-rock song that is politically and socially charged in its lyrics. It was released on 6th April 1988 and tells the story of a woman in poverty who works and wants to escape her life and cycle of poverty she in in, encouraging either a lover or friend to leave the homeless shelter they live in and move to the big city. Chapman doesn’t state in the song if the other character is a male or female, making it an inclusive song for all.
Born This Way by Lady Gaga
Born This Way is a synth-pop tour deforce with electronic dance beats and lyrical content that is all about exploring and expressing who you are. The song is heavily inspired by the female empowerment anthems of the 90s as well as the gay community, who have been huge supporters of her work since the beginning. This song was a ground-breaking moment for me and many queer kids, seeing and hearing a song that celebrates who we are in the mainstream, Gaga as a bisexual woman has always actively supported the LGBTQ community making her a gay icon.
The song was released on 11th February 2011 and was the lead single off the album of the same name [23rd May 2011]. Gaga has described it as her freedom song stating “I want to write my this-is-who-the-fuck-I-am anthem, but I don’t want it to be hidden in poetic wizardry and metaphors. I want it to be an attack, an assault on the issue because I think, especially in today’s music, everything gets kind of washy sometimes and the message gets hidden in the lyrical play. Harkening back to the early ’90s, when Madonna, En Vogue, Whitney Houston and TLC were making very empowering music for women and the gay community and all kind of disenfranchised communities, the lyrics and the melodies were very poignant and very gospel and very spiritual and I said, ‘That’s the kind of record I need to make. That’s the record that’s going to shake up the industry.’ It’s not about the track. It’s not about the production. It’s about the song. Anyone could sing ‘Born This Way’. It could’ve been anyone”.
Make Me Feel by Janelle Monáe
Janelle Monáe is a singer, songwriter and producer who identifies as both pansexual and bisexual, while being an advocate for LGBTQ rights and a huge supporter of the community. In January 2020 Monáe tweeted out the hashtag #IAmNonbinary in support of Nonbinary Day and bring more awareness to the community at large. Even though she uses She/her pronouns currently she has said “I retweeted the Steven Universe meme ‘Are you a boy or a girl? I’m an experience’ because it resonated with me, especially as someone who has pushed boundaries of gender since the beginning of my career. I feel my feminine energy, my masculine energy, and energy I can’t even explain.”
Make Me Feel was released on 22nd February 2018 as the first single off her third album Dirty Computer. It has a dirty funky feel reminiscent of Prince, who did help create sounds for the album including for this song specifically. It deals with the idea of love and sexuality, exploring deep connections as well as the need to enjoy the experience of it all. Its her second single as a lead artist to make it into the US Billboard Hot 100. Everyone should be listening to Janelle Monáe, but maybe I’m a little bit biased.
Vogue by Madonna
Growing up I was always surrounded by Madonna, my mum is a big fan of her work and was a teenager during the 80’s so for me I was surrounded by a lot of Dance, House and surprisingly Queer anthems. I often joke with her that this is why 2 out of 3 of her kids are a part of the LGBTQ community. Vogue holds a place in my heart due to the inclusion of queer culture, dance and of course classic movies, encapsulating many different sides to who I am as a person.
The song was inspired by the gay community of New York City where House Balls would take place and voguing was popular. The song has a house dance beat with 70’s disco elements, while lyrically it explores the themes of escapism and about enjoying oneself no matter what. Many are queer icons, from the Golden Age of cinema, within the LGBTQ community are mentioned within the spoken rap part of the song. The stars included are Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio, Grace Kelly, Jean Harlow, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Rita Hayworth, Lauren Bacall, Lana Turner and Bette Davis.
Did You Know?
Greta Garbo, who biographers have suggested may have been bisexual or a lesbian. She had relationships with men but would never commit to marriage or children, but silent film star Louise Brooks stated that they had a lesion in 1928. Other notable instances of the possibility of romantic feelings towards women include writer and lesbian Mercedes de Acosta who Garbo wrote, over the course of 30 years, 181 letters, cards and telegrams to. Mimi Pollak was a Swedish actress and theatre director who Garbo corresponded with, she once wrote “We cannot help our nature, as God has created it. But I have always thought you and I belonged together”.
Marlene Dietrich was fluent in three languages, German, English and French, and identified as bisexual. She would enjoy gay bars and drag balls of 1920s Berlin while also defying conventional gender roles. She wore trousers and suites while also training in boxing. She was married once and had one child. She would also have many affairs with both men and women, including Mexican Actress Lupe Velez, Suzanna Baule, AKA Frede, Cuban American writer Mercedes de Acosta and French writer Edith Piaf. There was also an underground network of closeted lesbian and bisexual actresses, dubbed Marlene’s Sewing Circle, included Ann Warner, Lili Damita, Claudette Colbert and Dolores del Rio.
Marlon Brando was a man who had a tumultuous personal life, having many partners and as many as 11 children. There have been many rumours over the years that he had sexual relationships with men, including Richard Pryor and Wally Cox, who Brando stated: “If Wally had been a woman, I would have married him and we would have lived happily ever after”. In 1976, Brando would admit to homosexual activity in an interview with a French journalist saying “Homosexuality is so much in fashion, it no longer makes news. Like a large number of men, I, too, have had homosexual experiences, and I am not ashamed. I have never paid much attention to what people think about me. But if there is someone who is convinced that Jack Nicholson and I are lovers, may they continue to do so. I find it amusing.”
Jimmy Dean/James Dean supposedly experimented sexually while at UCLA and during his time in New York, his friend, roommate, screenwriter and known homosexual William Bast, claimed in one of his books on the life of James Dean that they had done things together but never went into details. With the long list of women Dean also dated he could at the very least been bisexual. When he signed his contract with Warner Brothers, he would be grouped with two other eligible bachelors, Rock Hudson and Tab Hunter who where both gay men.
Kathern Hepburn, may have been gender fluid due to in her younger years cutting her hair short and insisting she should be called Jimmy, it has also been suggested that Hepburn may have been a lesbian or at the very least bisexual.