|Nate “Igor” Smith
|Big Freedia, queen of twerk
By: Amanda Savage
It's no secret that the world has grown a bigger conscience when it comes to the understanding and acceptance of the LGBT community, and with that many openly gay, bisexual, transgender etc. musical talents have emerged from their hiding places.
Whether you're gay, curious or just looking for some new music, here are 15 singers, songwriters, producers and musicians who are out and proud and making waves in music.
Conchita Wurst broke ground with gender stereotypes by being the drag queen that rocks a beard. Wurst gained international attention when she won the Eurovision Song Contest 2014.
Coming into hip-hop and R&B as a ghost writer and a member of Odd Future, Ocean became one of hip-hop's first openly queer artists. Ocean published an open letter on his Tumblr page in 2012, announcing that he had fallen in love with someone of the same sex.
Most people know Delano as the sassy, silly party girl and runner-up of Ru Paul's Drag Race season six. Although, pre-Delano, the boy inside, Daniel Noriega was a finalist in season seven of American Idol. Since the release of her first album Til Death Do Us Party, Delano has definitely proved herself as a talent that's breaking boundaries and bringing modern drag to mainstream attention.
Haze is a rapper and singer whose ability to sing powerful choruses and spit lyrically insightful verses and rhymes has created a stand out talent in the hip-hop scene. Haze came out earlier this year as agender (as in not identifying as either male or female) after confirming she was dating American model Ireland Baldwin in 2014.
Laura Jane Grace of Against Me!
Against Me! has been a staple in the punk rock scene for over a decade. Founder, lead singer and guitarist of the band Laura Jane Grace, came out as a transgender woman in 2012, shedding her birth name Thomas James Gabel. Since then, Grace has released painfully truthful, moving and inspiring songs about her transition.
Le1f is a vibrant, openly gay rapper and producer who pens some seriously ass-shaking beats under flamboyant rap vocals. He told Fader: “I am gay, and I'm proud to be called a gay rapper, but it's not gay rap. That's not a genre. My goal is always to make songs that a gay dude or a straight dude can listen to and just think, This dude has swag. I get guys the way straight rappers get girls. I'm not preachy. The best thing a song can be called is good.”
Gilman has been performing since he was a child, and more recently has found himself as a country singer. Gilman came out last fall as being gay, and announced that he had been in a relationship with his boyfriend for five months.
Lowell's debut LP We Loved Her Dearly has positioned her as anything but average. The album is an emotional compilation that hits on gender issues, gay pride, and abusive relationships. Lowell's floaty but powerful vocals and bright colored demeanor give her a dream-like ambiance that's fun to dance to.
Wheelchair Sports Camp
Our sister paper Village Voice said it perfectly: “If there were ever a moment for a queer, disabled rapper with a love for pot, jokes, and revolution to be a star, the moment is now.” Wheelchair Sports Camp is a band from Denver lead by wheelchair-bound, openly gay rapper Kalyn Heffernan. The band harmoniously combines live instruments under humorous, meaningful and fearless rap vocals to produce a groovy, chill-out sound.
Ditto has been an open LGBT and feminist advocate. While the singer-songwriter has worked on many projects with artists from a range of genres like Netsky and Simian Mobile Disco, she is most-known as the lead singer for indie band Gossip.
Previously working under the name Final Fantasy, Owen Pallett is a singer, keyboardist and all around composer who produces music that blends the synth sounds of modern experimental electronic music with the elegance and melody of traditional instruments, all tied together with an indie vibe. Pallett has said: “As far as whether the music I make is gay or queer, yeah, it comes from the fact that I'm gay, but that doesn't mean I'm making music about it.”
Banks is a badass and outspoken openly bisexual rapper, singer and songwriter. Banks told the New York Times in a 2012 interview: “I'm not trying to be, like, the bisexual, lesbian rapper. I don't live on other people's terms.”
Palmer is an R&B and pop singer and songwriter who delivers a fresh and squeaky-clean sound to this list. Palmer debuted as an openly gay performer last year with the release of his Stranger Than Fiction EP.
Contemporary singer and songwriter who produces honest vocals over melodic acoustic guitar chords. Brannan told Slate Magazine on being a gay artist: “I've always taken my own path and I think that's been the only option for me, because of the kind of person I am. I mean, sure, I've been lucky enough to get some mainstream exposure, and I've pushed really hard to try to do both.”
The queen of twerk is responsible for more ass-shaking than maybe anyone in history save Sir Mix-a-Lot. She's helped popularize a type of woodpecker-thudding type of New Orleans dance music called “bounce,” and there are few characters in music as engaging and interesting as her.