LGBT-themed Songs

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LGBT-themed Songs

Post by Dan » Fri Sep 12, 2014 7:43 pm

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For those who don’t know what LGBT stands for, it’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. The first three terms have to do with sexual orientation while transgender is about gender identity (transgender people can be straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, etc.). If you're not too familiar with the concept of transgender (or with gender identities and sexual orientations in general), please go to this post below - it might help, as it sheds some light on the spectrum of sexual orientations and gender identities that exist.

So, why a thread about LGBT songs? Isn’t it a bit silly to differentiate between straight songs and queer songs? Besides, there are many people who don’t like to be put into boxes and be labelled by their sexual orientation or gender identity. For me, the fact that I’m gay is only a small part of my overall identity – just like straight folk, it’s not something I consciously think of when I live my life from day to day, and my family, friends and work colleagues couldn’t give a damn what my sexual orientation is. Yet I can’t help but feel that I’m part of a larger LGBT community, mostly because of sharing a memory with many in that community about having to rise above prejudice and quash feelings of distress when I first realised that I had no control over which sex I was attracted to.

But before this turns into an essay about the value of a thread like this, I’ll just say that the main reason for doing this was that it was fun to do! (And who knows, maybe other LGBT people – and supporters – will think it's a useful source.) This is a fairly frank post about LGBT-related expressions of love, gender and getting laid in songs, and at times the lyrics, comments and videos below are a tad explicit.

If you've stumbled across this thread and don't recognize many of these songs, don't judge them too soon. Give them a go - they might surprise you.

A few things to note about the songs that have been included: All the songs have a LGBT-related theme, with a few exceptions where the theme of the song is not specifically LGBT-related but is performed by a LGBT artist. Songs with a LGBT-related theme that are performed by straight, cisgender people are of course included as well. I’ve come across a few cases where a song has been interpreted as having a LGBT theme, or where a music video has generated LGBT-related discussions (like Hozier’s Take Me to Church) but the lyrics are too ambiguous to support that interpretation, and these song ended up not being included. What you also won’t find on the list are songs by straight, cisgender performers that have been adopted as gay anthems (like Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” or ABBA’s “Dancing Queen”) or have a large lesbian following (like Sade’s “By Your Side”). After all, being empowered by a song or feeling closely connected to its sensibilities are not exclusively LGBT. There is only one song per artist and I’ve tried to include a wide variety of music genres. I’m sure there are songs I don’t know about that deserve to be included in the list. Conversely, if I include every LGBT-themed song I’ve heard the list will be way too long, so I’ve had to make decisions about which songs to include and which to exclude (this is obviously a subjective list). Also, only songs sung in English are included as I’m not familiar with LGBT-themed songs sung in other languages. And why only start at 1970? While I’m sure there are good LGBT-related songs prior to 1970, from what I’ve read there were not many of them back then and I’ve not properly explored them yet.

Let’s go…



The Kinks | Lola ( Pop/Rock )
There are two accounts of the inspiration behind this song. According to a 2004 piece in Rolling Stone magazine, it may have been inspired by Candy Darling, a trans woman who was part of Andy Warhol's entourage, and whom lead singer Ray Davies briefly (and cluelessly) dated. (Candy Darling is also mentioned in Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side" and was the subject of Reed's earlier song for The Velvet Underground, "Candy Says". A picture of her is also used as the cover of Antony & The Johnsons' album I Am a Bird Now.) But in the Kinks' official biography Davies says the song was written after the band's manager spent a very drunken night dancing with a woman whose five o'clock shadow was apparently obvious to everyone but him.

The Rolling Stones | Cocksucker Blues ( Acoustic Blues )
It was written to be the Stones' final single for Decca Records as per their contract, with language chosen specifically to anger Decca executives. Needless to say, it was never released as a single.

Zebedy Colt | The Man I Love ( Standard )
A popular standard usually sung by a woman, but given a gay twist here because of being sung by a man. The song has since frequently been performed by gay male choirs.


Flaming Ember | Stop the World (And Let Me Off) ( Blue Eyed Soul )
A guy's despair because of losing his woman to another woman.


Lou Reed | Walk on the Wild Side ( Pop, Glam Rock )
Lou Reed had a hard time as a teenager when he received electroconvulsive therapy, which was intended to cure his bisexuality. Many songs written by Reed touch on sexual ambiguity and unconventional gender identity. This is of course one of his most famous songs, and transgender characters are part of the main themes.

David Bowie | John, I'm Only Dancing ( Rock, Glam Rock )
In the early to mid 70s, Bowie was at the heart of a kind of sexual revolution that aimed to transcend traditional notions of gender and sexuality, especially through his gender bending, sexually promiscuous character of Ziggy Stardust. Bowie also drew attention to bisexuality - "John, I'm Only Dancing" being an example of this. The male protagonist in the song and John appear to be a couple, but he finds himself attracted to a woman he dances with ("John, I'm only dancing / She turns me on, but I'm only dancing").


Michael Cohen | Bitterfeast ( Folk )
An obscure, sensitive gay song.


Meg Christian | Ode to a Gym Teacher ( Folk )
As part of a movement / music genre called women's music, songs and albums created specifically for lesbians and feminists started to be distributed in the early 70s. This humorous song about a school girl's crush on her female gym teacher is my favourite of the songs I've heard from that movement, along with Teresa Trull's "Woman-Loving Women" from 1977, which I sadly couldn't find a link for anywhere.

The Sweet | AC/DC ( Pop/Rock, Hard Rock )
A song about a woman who has girls all over the world, and men every now and then. It's a catchy song, though I never like it when lyrics like "she can't make up her mind" appear in songs about bisexuality. The view that bisexuals can't make up their mind about whether they are gay/lesbian or straight (or that most bisexuals are too scared to admit that they are just gay or lesbian) is a common misconception. It shouldn't have to be explained that sexuality isn't always as black and white as that.


Tim Curry | Sweet Transvestite ( Musical Theatre )
This was originally from the 1973 musical The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which was made into a film in 1975. It's no secret that there are plenty of gay guys who like musicals. There are loads of LGBT-themed songs from musicals, but I've only included four (the others are from 1983, 2003 and 2007).

The Miracles | Ain't Nobody Straight in LA ( R&B )
Evidently, even in 1975 it sometimes felt as if everyone in LA was gay or bisexual. But sexual diversity and freedom of expression are things the Miracles seem to embrace rather than complain about in this song.


Queen | Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy ( Pop/Rock )
The songs Freddie Mercury wrote for Queen never directly dealt with LGBT themes. Even this song, which can be interpreted as an expression of love from the narrator to his loverboy, is more often interpreted as a dialogue between the narrator and his love interest (regardless of their gender). I'm choosing this song, though, because it just sounds and reads like his "gayest" song to me.

Peter Allen | I Go to Rio ( Pop )
Peter Allen publicly came out as gay a while after ending his marriage with *cough* many-a-gay-man-of-a-certain-age's-favourite-diva Liza Minnelli. Judged by the way he shakes those maracas in the video, it sure looks like it would've been fun going with him to Rio.

Rod Stewart | The Killing of Georgie ( Pop/Rock )
Quite a touching song about the murder of a gay friend. One of the first songs to deal with homophobia.


Elton Motello | Jet Boy, Jet Girl ( Punk Rock )
A song about a 15-year-old boy's sexual relationship with an older man, who then rejects him for a girl.

Judas Priest | Raw Deal ( Heavy Metal )
A song about the narrator's experience in a gay bar/club. It's also a kind of gay rights heavy metal song ("the true free expression I demand is human rights")… from 1977, long before lead singer Rob Halford came out as gay. Halford also introduced the gay leather-and-studs biker look to metal - bonus points to him for that.


The Village People | Y.M.C.A. ( Disco )
Alicia Bridges | I Love the Nightlife ( Disco )
Sylvester | You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) ( Disco )
Some people who were around in the 70s still seem to automatically equate gay music with disco. Although the LGBT scene embraced disco, not many disco performers were actually LGBT. However, these three famous songs were all performed by artists who identified as gay or lesbian. True LGBT disco classics.

Tom Robinson Band | Glad to Be Gay ( Pop/Rock )
The first time I saw the title, I thought it would be a 70s disco track. It turned out to be a 70s protest song.


Frank Zappa | Bobby Brown ( Pop/Rock )
A song about a misogynist who has some kind of disturbing sexual encounter with a lesbian and starts to question his sexuality. He then becomes a closeted gay man who describes himself as a "sexual spastic" and gets involved in golden showers and S&M.


Diana Ross | I'm Coming Out ( Disco, Pop )
Songwriter (and co-founding member of Chic) Neil Rodgers got the idea for "I'm Coming Out" after noticing three drag queens dressed as Diana Ross at a New York club. So yes, the song was inspired by that kind of coming out.

Patrick Cowley | Mockingbird Dream ( Spacesynth )
This is the only piece of music on the list without any lyrics. I wasn't quite sure in which year to place it. Patrick Cowley was a gay man mostly known for his contribution to Hi-NRG dance music, but he also created pioneering electronic music with a more laid-back vibe. He recorded the demo for "Mockingbird Dream" when he was at college in the early to mid 70s. Then in the late 70s he was approached by legendary gay porn company Fox Studio to compose soundtracks for their films. He gave them various demos, including "Mockingbird Dream", which was used in a gay porn film in 1980. But the song's first official appearance was on a compilation of Cowley's music called School Daze in 2013.

Pete Townshend | Rough Boys ( Pop/Rock )
This solo track by the guitarist and songwriter from the Who appears to be about male punks and other guys at the time who behaved like they were all rough and tough, but in an interview with Newsweek Townshend said that it was also written as a tribute to the gay friends he was surrounded by, and whom he occasionally felt attracted to.


Elton John | Elton's Song ( Pop/Rock )
Elton John has said that this was the first song he specifically recorded as a gay song. As the title implies, it was a very personal song for him.

Joan Armatrading | The Weakness in Me ( Singer/Songwriter, Pop )
Straight celebrities aren't usually asked to confirm their heterosexuality, yet when there are rumours about a celebrity being gay, lesbian or bisexual, the media hounds him or her. Despite having been in a long-term relationship with a woman, Joan Armatrading has been persistently reluctant to discuss her personal life (why should she if she doesn't want to?). That hasn't stopped this warm love song from becoming a firm lesbian favourite.

Pete Shelley | Homosapien ( New Wave, Synth Pop )
Apparently, this song was banned by the BBC for explicit reference to gay sex thanks to lyrics like "homo superior / in my interior".


Culture Club | Do You Really Want to Hurt Me ( Pop, Pop Reggae )
The lyrics were written about Boy George's relationship with Culture Club drummer Jon Moss. They had an affair for about six years.

Joe Jackson | Real Men ( Singer/Songwriter, Art Pop )
Many of Joe Jackson's songs have interesting commentary on sexuality and gender. This one seems to be about the breaking down of traditional roles, and about the damaging effect of making clear distinctions between self and other.

Joan Jett and The Blackhearts | Crimson and Clover ( Pop/Rock )
A cover of the 1968 song by Tommy James and the Shondells. Given a lesbian twist by not changing the pronouns from "her" to "him".


The Smiths | This Charming Man ( Jangle Pop )
I could have gone with many other Smiths songs that have gay or bisexual themes and undertones ("Handsome Devil", "Hand in Glove" and "The Boy with the Thorn in His Side" are a few that spring to mind). The LGBT content of the Smiths' lyrics is often presented in subtle ways with narratives that are not straightforward. If, for example, "This Charming Man" had to be reduced to an uncomplicated narrative, what would it be?: A handsome young man punctures a bicycle wheel on a hillside road. A charming man in a charming car stops to help him. Presumably they have a bit of action on the smooth leather of the passenger seat, and talk about some of the complexities of life, about going out that evening, and about the disadvantages of getting married.

The Waterboys | A Girl Called Johnny ( Pop/Rock )
There are many ways to interpret this song. And it's quite easy for me to get the interpretation that it could be about a girl who wants to be a boy, and who has to leave town to allow for the transition from girl to boy.

Original Broadway Cast of La Cage aux Folles | We Are What We Are / I Am What I Am ( Musical Theatre )
La Cage aux Folles is a musical that focuses on a gay couple, one of whom is the manager of a nightclub featuring drag entertainment, and the other one is the main drag act at the nightclub. Nowadays it's a cliché to use phrases like "be true to yourself" or "don't let them get you down", but that's exactly the kind of sentiment that both "We Are What We Are" and "I Am What I Am" exude.

Bananarama | Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye ( Pop )
Another cover version of a song where traditional notions of sexuality are ignored because of a refusal to change the pronouns used in the orginal song.


Frankie Goes to Hollywood | Relax ( Pop )
A song about delaying sexual gratification to increase pleasure ("Relax, don't do it when you want to come"). It was probably not only written about gay sex, but the allusion to gay sex was obvious thanks to the original music video and the ads placed about the song in the British music press, which were accompanied by the phrase "All the nice boys like sea men".

Bronski Beat | Smalltown Boy ( Synth Pop )
An upbeat synth pop song with lyrics about LGBT experiences in smalltown 80s society that is the opposite of upbeat: familiy rejection, homophobia, bullying and loneliness.

The Replacements | Androgynous ( Pop/Rock )
To me, it seems to be a song about how gender identity shouldn't matter when two people love each other, and about how gender will become more fluid and less binary in future (although some people seem to think it's a satirical song about androgyny).


Hüsker Dü | Green Eyes ( Post-Hardcore )
Considering that one of the three band members was gay and another one bisexual, it's maybe a little bit surprising that there's very little LGBT-related things going on in the lyrics (or maybe it's not that surprising if you keep in mind that LGBT themes were mostly frowned upon in 1985). Their love songs also tended to be ambiguous with gender-neutral pronouns. You have to search as deep as songs like "Green Eyes" for a hint at a possible LGBT interpretation.


Martin Stephenson | Coleen ( Singer/Songwriter, Folk Pop )
A sweet song about a brother being supportive of his love-struck lesbian sister.


Labi Siffre | (Something Inside) So Strong ( Pop, Soul )
An empowering song inspired by a TV documentary on apartheid in South Africa, but also influenced by Siffre's experiences as a gay man.


Erasure | A Little Respect ( Synth Pop )
Reportedly, at live concerts lead singer Andy Bell sometimes referred to the song as having a personal, gay context. The song is sometimes interpreted as a plea for respect and acceptance, but it also has another universal theme about giving everything in a relationship and not getting much in return.

Billy Bragg | Tender Comrade ( Singer/Songwriter )
It goes without saying that it's not only LGBT people who fight for LGBT rights. Billy Bragg wrote this song about a romantic bond formed between two soldiers after he had participated in a LGBT-related protest in 1988.


Indigo Girls | Closer to Fine ( Folk Pop )
This was the lesbian duo's first hit song, with a things will get better theme that many people who identify as LGBT can relate to. The song was written by band member Emily Sailers, who explained that "it's about being confused but looking for the answers, and in the end knowing that you're going to be fine."


Madonna | Vogue ( Dance Pop )
A song inspired by ball culture, an underground LGBT subculture that was popular in the US. Vogueing was a dance craze associated with ball culture. During the dance, elaborate hand gestures were used and the dancers frequently stopped to pose. It's also interpreted as a song about finding escape from the realities of the AIDS epidemic that burdened the gay community in America in the 80s, as exemplified by the opening lyrics of the first verse: "Look around, everywhere you turn is heartache."


R.E.M. | Losing My Religion ( Pop/Rock, Jangle Pop )
This one is often interpreted as a biographical account of Michael Stipe's struggles as a closeted gay man, particularly from the point of view of trying to make sense of (and questioning) your religion as a homosexual. I couldn't find any quotes by Stipe to support this interpretation. What I did find, though, was quotes by him stating that it's a song about unrequited love and obsession.

Army of Lovers | Crucified ( Euro Pop, Dance Pop )
It would be scandalous to exclude the biggest hit by this camp Swedish group!


k.d. lang | Constant Craving ( Folk Pop, Singer/Songwriter )
This was lesbian icon k.d. lang's hit during the year she came out. To many people it sounds like a song about craving of a sensual nature, but k.d. lang herself has said that it's about saṃsāra, the repeating cycle of birth, life and death (reincarnation) within Buddhism and other religions.

Sophie B. Hawkins | Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover ( Pop/Rock )
Another song about unrequited love, this time written about a woman by a woman.

Ben Harper | Mama's Got a Girlfriend Now ( Folk Rock, Singer/Songwriter )
Mama has had enough of Papa's bad ways and leaves him for a woman.


Suede | Animal Nitrate ( Britpop, Glam Rock )
The title is a play on the drug amyl nitrite, and the repeated mention in the lyrics of being turned on has made many people think that it's a euphoric song about uninhibited, drug-fuelled sex. Drugs and sex are involved, but if you read the lyrics properly there's not much euphoria in the song's portrayal of domestic violence in a gay relationship and the emotional consequences of it. Lyricist and vocalist Brett Anderson explained in an interview with NME: "It definitely has a veneer (of gay sex) but there's a very sad undertone. People think about gay sex and never really think about it romantically. They see sadness, romance and loss as purely a hetrosexual thing. There's a definite domestic violence feel to 'Animal Nitrate.' But behind that there's a real sadness."

Pet Shop Boys | Can You Forgive Her? ( Synth Pop, Dance Pop )
There are other LGBT-themed Pet Shop Boys songs to choose from, but I'm going with this one, a song about a man who is in a relationship with a woman but is (also?) attracted to men. She is aware of this an humiliates him, adding to his feelings of unease.

Melissa Etheridge | Come to My Window ( Pop/Rock )
This was Etheridge's first single after coming out as lesbian. The song implicitly alludes to her sexual orientation and evokes a sense of activism with lyrics like "I don't care what they think / I don't care what they say / What do they know about this love anyway?"

Bikini Kill | Rebel Girl ( Riot Grrrl, Punk Rock )
It's a song about a girl's unconditional love for (and slight obsession with) her best friend, who is lesbian. This is only one example of a song with a lesbian bend from riot grrrl, an underground feminist punk rock movement that started in the early 90s.

The Lemonheads | Big Gay Heart ( Country Rock )
There are various ways to interpret this song. I can buy into the interpretation that it might be about a relationship between a more feminine gay man and a self-hating, abusive, closeted gay man. Way on the other side of the spectrum of interpretation, some people claim that the song was inspired by Johnny Depp's house. OK then. To me, it mostly has a kind of pro-acceptance, anti-bullying feel to it. In the text of the CD copies of Come On Feel the Lemonheads, under the title of the song it says "against violence".


Blur | Girls & Boys ( Britpop )
Who knows what's going on in that chorus. I've come across bisexual forums where it’s hailed as a classic about bisexual fun or experimentation on holidays, and I've seen posts in transgender forums where it's praised for its flexible, fluid depiction of gender roles in sex acts. Either way, it can clearly be interpreted as a song about freedom of sexual preference and expression.

Bruce Springsteen | Streets of Philadelphia ( Pop/Rock, Singer/Songwriter )
This was of course the main single of the film Philadelphia. While doing research about the song, I came across some impassioned comments regarding the song's emotional resonance from people who had lost loved ones, family and friends to AIDS in the 80s and 90s; comments about the discrimination against gay people who had the disease, about confusion and pain, and about watching the people you care for waste away while nobody else seemed to care.

Green Day | Coming Clean ( Pop Punk )
The band's lead vocalist, Billie Joe Armstrong, has said that this is about his coming out as bisexual.


Team Dresch | Fagetarian and Dyke ( Queercore )
Queercore is a genre that has its roots in punk music and alternative rock, but with lyrics that explore themes of oppression, prejudice and same-sex attraction, and with a spirit that refuses to cave in to the moral majority's definitions of what is right and natural. Team Dresch is one of the genre's key bands.

Sta-Prest | Double Your Chances ( Queercore )
Another queercore band. This song is about doubling your chances for a date as a bisexual.

Jill Sobule | I Kissed a Girl ( Folk Pop )
Same title, but not the same song as the Katy Perry one. Also, unlike the Katy Perry song, it's not merely about experimenting; it's about feeling a romantic connection with the girl she kissed.

Tracy Chapman | The Promise ( Singer/Songwriter, Folk )
Another artist who prefers to separate her personal life from her professional life. As far as I can tell, Chapman has never disclosed her sexual orientation but has dated women and her music is loved by many lesbians. This is a song of hers that I've seen on a number of lesbian-related lists (particularly lists about lesbian love songs).


Belle and Sebastian | She's Losing It ( Indie Pop )
You wouldn't think so when you listen to the sunny melody, but this seems to be about a girl who has been abused and then starts a relationship with another girl, but struggles to hold herself together.

Placebo | Nancy Boy ( Alternative Rock )
On the surface, it appears to be about a thrill-seeking nancy boy (effeminate man). But band member Brian Molko has said that the song is also a criticism of certain people's reasons for sleeping with someone of the same sex, especially people who do it because they think it's hip or cool.


Sleater-Kinney | One More Hour ( Indie Rock )
Female band mates Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker dated when Sleater-Kinney was formed, and this song is about their breakup.

White Town | Your Woman ( Pop, Indietronica )
White Town's sole band member, Jyoti Prakash Mishra, has stated that the lyrics could be read from the perspective of a girl who is in love with a guy who is "a lying, two-timing, fake-arse Marxist". But he added that he also intended the lyrics to be read from the perspective of a gay guy who is in love with a straight guy.

Of Montreal | Tim I Wish You Were Born a Girl ( Indie Pop )
Blurring the boundary between bromance and romance.

Ocean Colour Scene feat. P.P. Arnold | It's a Beautiful Thing ( Folk Pop )
A song about frontman Simon Fowler's difficulties in accepting his homosexuality ("Oh it's a beautiful thing / Oh it's a terrible thing").


George Michael | Outside ( Dance Pop )
It was George Michael's first single after being arrested for trying to get it on with an undercover policeman in a public toilet. Hey, some people find lovemaking behind closed doors a bit boring and are more excited by an alfresco sex life.

Tori Amos | Raspberry Swirl ( Art Pop, Dance Pop )
A song about Tori Amos's experiences of being in love with some of her women friends, and also a kind of defiant response to previous relationships with men.

Terrorvision | Josephine ( Alternative Rock )
The male protagonist in the song has a friend called Joe, who later becomes a trans woman called Josephine. It takes him a while to get used to it, but then he falls in love with her.


The Magnetic Fields | Underwear ( Indie Pop )
Stephin Merritt is the group's primary songwriter and vocalist. There are many songs written by him with a gay or bisexual theme that could've made this list. I'm going with this more obviously bisexual one.


Melissa Ferrick | Drive ( Pop/Rock, Singer/Songwriter )
A rather steamy song by this lesbian singer/songwriter.


Garbage | Cherry Lips ( Pop/Rock, Electropop )
A song inspired by JT LeRoy, a literary persona who was transgender and a truck stop prostitute from a young age. It's one of many LGBT-themed songs by Garbage.

Le Tigre | Keep On Livin' ( Dance Punk, Indietronica )
Band member Kathleen Hanna started writing this song about her traumatic memories of sexual abuse. Fellow band member JD Samson read the verses that were written up to that point and saw a link between the lyrics and what she felt when she tried to come out as lesbian, and they finished writing the song together.


Junior Senior | Chicks and Dicks ( Alternative Dance )
A pop duo from Denmark with one gay member and one straight one. It starts of as a song about… well… one of them liking girls and the other one liking boys, but by the end of the song it seems like anything or anyone will do.


Rufus Wainwright | 14th Street ( Chamber Pop )
I seem to regularly change my mind about what my favourite Rufus Wainwright song is. At the moment it's this one. Sometimes I find myself having a soft spot for songs that have melancholic lyrics but a happy tune. So despite the lyrics "But why'd you have to break all my heart / Couldn't you have saved a little bit of it" I can't help but feel a sense of joy because of the rousing music.

t.A.T.u. | All the Things She Said ( Pop/Rock, Electropop )
The duo has been criticised for only acting as lesbians to generate media attention. Nonetheless, the song clearly has a LGBT theme of two women trying to make sense of their romantic feelings for each other.

Peaches | I U She ( Electro-Techno )
She doesn't have to make a choice: she likes girls and she likes boys. And come on, let's add some "whips, crops, canes, whatever".

Electric Six | Gay Bar ( Dance Rock )
Totally silly, but fun.

John Tartaglia & Rick Lyon | If You Were Gay ( Musical Theatre )
This is from the musical Avenue Q. In the song, a straight puppet tries to help another puppet (who is a friend of his) to accept that he is gay.

The Decemberists | The Soldiering Life ( Indie Pop, Indie Folk )
A second song (the other one being Billy Bragg's "Tender Comrade" from 1988) that is about a relationship nurtured between two men on the battlefield.


Scissor Sisters | Take Your Mama ( Pop/Rock )
The band took their name from the lesbian sex act called scissoring. This song is about frontman Jake Shears' coming out to his mother as gay and trying to explain to her what it's all about.

Franz Ferdinand | Michael ( Rock, Post-Punk Revival )
This one's theme doesn't need a long description: it's a song about a guy who is attracted to another guy who is a good dancer.

The Ditty Bops | There's a Girl ( Indie Pop, Folk Pop )
A song about a secret relationship between two women.


Antony and the Johnsons | For Today I Am a Boy ( Chamber Pop )
Antony Hegarty identifies as transgender, and "For Today I Am a Boy" is one of many (beautiful) songs by Antony and the Johnsons with a transgender theme.

Sufjan Stevens | The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades Is Out to Get Us! ( Chamber Folk )
I've come across various interpretations of this song. Sufjan Stevens has said that the song is based on an experience with a friend at summer camp, where they invented a predatory wasp/bird creature to scare each other. So the interpretation that makes most sense to me is that the majority of the song is about two boys at summer camp who have an innocent yet strongly felt crush on each other, and in the last verse the (then more mature) narrator remembers the terrible sting he felt when his friend ran away.


The Gossip | Standing in the Way of Control ( Dance Rock, Garage Punk )
This song was written by lesbian frontwoman Beth Ditto as a response to the US government's stance on same-sex marriage during George W. Bush's presidency. Fortunately, things have changed since 2006. Same-sex marriage is now legal in the US. There are 20 other countries where it is legal: Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, France, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Uruguay. Similar laws in Finland and Taiwan are not yet in force.

Willie Nelson | Cowboys Are Frequently, Secretly Fond of Each Other ( Country )
A rare LGBT-themed song in the genre of country music. The song was originally released by Ned Sublette in 1981, but I prefer this 2006 version by Willie Nelson.

Mika | Billy Brown ( Pop )
It was all going according to plan for Billy Brown: he had a wife, two kids and a dog. Then he fell in love with another man.

The Shins | Phantom Limb ( Indie Pop )
Songwriter and lead singer James Mercer has described this song as "a hypothetical, fictional account of a young, lesbian couple in high school dealing with the shitty small town they live in."

Grizzly Bear | Plans ( Indie Folk, Chamber Pop )
The band wasn't actually named after the furry North American animal; it was named after the nickname band member Ed Droste had for an ex boyfriend. Understandably, the band doesn't like to be referred to as a queer band considering that only one of the band members is gay. But some of their songs have a subtle queer bend, like this one about Juan from Argentina.


Bloc Party | I Still Remember ( Pop/Rock, Post-Punk Revival )
Ah, the regret of not taking action when you knew there was chemistry between you and someone. Frontman Kele Okereke has told The Observer that this song was inspired by observasions he made in high school - observasions about unspoken desires between boys who were not necessarily gay. He said in the interview that he could see it "in the way that guys would need to be touching other guys. You could see there was something they couldn't say aloud."
Jens Lekman | A Postcard to Nina ( Indie Pop, Chamber Pop )
We had a supportive brother to a lesbian sister in Martin Stephenson's "Coleen" from 1986. This time round it's Jens Lekman being supportive of his lesbian friend, whose Catholic father wouldn't understand her sexuality.

Original Broadway Cast of Legally Blonde: The Musical | Gay or European ( Musical Theatre )
Some over-the-top stereotyping going on here, but it's quite funny.


Black Kids | I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance with You ( Indie Pop, New Wave )
This song is sung from the perspective of a girl who has a crush on another girl and therefore doesn't want to teach this other girl's boyfriend how to dance with her.

Hercules & Love Affair | You Belong ( Electrodisco )
This collective was created by gay DJ Andy Butler, and their music and lyrics often have a queer sensibility. "You Belong" is an apt example of that.


John Grant | Caramel ( Singer/Songwriter )
I can't go to a dinner or house party these days without there being a gay man declaring his love for John Grant's music. And I can see why. This is another artist with lots of LGBT-themed songs to choose from, but I'm going with "Caramel", my favourite gay love song (especially this live version with just him and his piano).

Vampire Weekend | Diplomat's Son ( Indie Pop, Dancehall )
In an interview with Out magazine, gay band member and co-writer of this song, Rostam Batmanglij, described it as "a six-minute dancehall song about a gay relationship", and said that he liked the idea of just sitting back and seeing how listeners interpret it.

Owen Pallett | Lewis Takes Off His Shirt ( Indietronica, Chamber Pop )
Owen Pallett has made interesting contributions to music both as a solo artist and in collaboration with other artists. His solo album releases have an indie feel to them, and his collaborations with others often display his talent as a clasically trained musician (like co-writing the strings arrangement for Arcade Fire's albums Funeral and Neon Bible). Again, it was difficult to decide which song to pick, but in the end I went with the song that most people who have heard of Owen Pallett would probably know.

Jónsi | Sinking Friendships ( Art Pop )
Jónsi is the vocalist and guitarist from the band Sigur Rós. This song is from his solo album Go. He explained to The Independent that the song was about growing up gay in Iceland without knowing many other gay people and falling in love with his straight friends all the time. He added: "That made for lots of... drama, a lot of awkwardness, and so much misunderstanding. I had to apologise a lot."


Azealia Banks | 212 ( Hip House )
Straight-talking Azealia Banks identifies as bisexual. This song was released before she came out. But her bisexuality probably wouldn't have come as a major surprise to anyone who paid attention to lyrics like: "Kick it with ya bitch that come from Parisian / She know where I get mine from, end of season / Now she wanna lick my plum in the evening / And fit that tongue-tongue d-deep in / I guess that cunt gettin eaten."

Lady Gaga | Born This Way ( Dance Pop )
This song about being born the way you are is undoubtedly a tribute to Lady Gaga's huge number of LGBT fans, especially the gay ones.

Patrick Wolf | Bermondsey Street ( Pop/Rock )
In this song, the same simple love story is told twice, first as a story between a guy and a girl, and later as a story between two guys. Patrick Wolf has explained that the intention is "for the straight couple to realize that the gay couple are experiencing the same emotion of love, but that it just happens to be between the same sex."

Atlas Sound | Parallax ( Neo-Psychedelia, Indie Pop )
The words "asexual", "gay" and "queer" have all been used (even by himself) to describe Bradford Cox's sexuality. I get the impression he doesn’t feel comfortable with slapping a label on it. Cox is the lead singer and guitarist of Deerhunter but has also pursued a solo career as Atlas Sound. The song I've chosen is the title track from Atlas Sound's album Parallax, a song that appears to be describing a turbulent relationship with a man (as well as a reference to anal sex?): "He gave me pain, gave me bruises / After the first time, the muscle loosens." However, Cox sometimes sings from the perspective of a woman, so the narrator here could be female.


Frank Ocean | Bad Religion ( Contemporary R&B )
The media certainly made a big deal out of it when Frank Ocean revealed that he had been in relationships with both men and women. It gave the song "Thinkin Bout You" a different dimension, and the playful "Forrest Gump" would've been another sensible choice for this list, but my favourite LGBT-themed song of his is the emotionally raw "Bad Religion".

Zebra Katz feat. Njena Reddd Foxxx | Ima Read ( Hip House )
Hip hop by queer artists is sometimes referred to as homo hop. The term homo hop was coined in a tongue-in-cheek way in the 90s, and the intention wasn't to specify a different sub-genre of hip hop but to give voice to a queer culture in a genre that was/is not the most LGBT-friendly. However, nowadays most LGBT rappers don't like that term. This Zebra Katz song became known to quite a wide audience after fashion designer Rick Owens used a repeated loop of the song to soundtrack his 2012 show at Paris Fashion Week. The word "read" in the title is about education/educating, but it's also a homage to the 80s ballroom scene of New York (see Madonna's "Vogue" from 1990). In the ballroom scene context, "read" means to cut someone down to size. So... educating someone, or cutting them down to size. From the perspective of a determined queer black male, the homophobes in rap music becomes the "bitch" in the lyrics, and Katz has a clear message for them: "I'm a read that bitch / I'm a school that bitch / I'm a take that bitch to college / I'm a give that bitch some knowledge."

Mykki Blanco | Wavvy ( Hip Hop )
Mykki Blanco is the female alter ego of transgender rapper Michael David Quattlebaum. The word wavvy usually means a state of drunkenness somewhere between tipsy and wasted, but in the music video wavvy is a drug. If you like good hip hop, you won't need alcohol or drugs to get excited by the sharp delivery and equally sharp synths.

Le1F | Wut ( Hip Hop )
As is evident in the enjoyable music video of "Wut", gay rapper Le1f is not afraid to engage in some flamboyant posing, dropping and even twerking. Fortunately, the quick-fire flow, the looping horn sample and the bass give the song itself as much personality as the video.

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert | Same Love ( Pop Rap )
A pro-LGBT rights song that was unofficially adopted as an anthem by many supporters of same-sex marriage in the US. Straight rapper Maklemore has explained that the song was also inspired by his frustration with hip hop's view of homosexuality.

The Irrepressibles | Arrow ( Chamber Pop, Art Pop )
Jamie McDermott, the collective's singer and composer, is often compared with Antony Hegarty and Rufus Wainwright, both because of similarities in style and because of unapologetically singing about LGBT themes. "Arrow" is a lovely example of his abilities as a singer.


Arcade Fire | We Exist ( Alternative Dance, Indie Rock )
This song has been described by lead singer Win Butler as being "about a gay kid talking to his dad" and coming out to his straight father. The video, featuring Andrew Garfield, portrays the song as a person's struggle with gender identity.

Cakes da Killa | Goodie Goodies ( Hip Hop, Hip House )
Cakes da Killa, also known as Rashard Bradshaw, is another refreshingly flamboyant rapper, but with plenty of bounce and swagger. And his lyrics are pretty raunchy. Don't underestimate the power of his goodie goodies.

Willam Belli feat. Detox & Vicky Vox | Boy Is a Bottom ( Musical Parody, Pop )
Speaking of raunchy lyrics, this list wouldn't be complete without a bit of light-hearted vulgarity from a drag act. Although the idea that every gay (or bisexual) man has to be either a "top" or a "bottom" is another misconception (many gay men are a bit of both, and some gay men don't have anal sex at all), the top-bottom thing can be a humourous, frivolous topic, like in this song.
Devendra Banhart | Daniel ( Indie Folk, Singer/Songwriter )
A gay love story set in San Francisco.

Goldfrapp | Annabel ( Chamber Pop, Chamber Folk )
This is a song about a man or boy who dreams of being Annabel and is probably bigender ("why they couldn't let you be both"). In the video it's a boy and not a man, with a mother who seems almost as understanding as these parents.


Against Me! | Transgender Dysphoria Blues ( Punk Rock )
Laura Jane Grace is the founder, lead singer, songwriter and guitarist of Against Me! She is a trans woman (who has a wife and daughter) and is considering sex reassignment surgery following the hormone replacement therapy she is currently receiving. As the title suggests, this song is about strong discontent with the sex she was born with and her physical appearance as a trans woman ("shoulders too broad for a girl", "no hips to shake"). It's also about observations regarding society's perception of trans women, perhaps especially trans women with masculine features: "You want them to notice the ragged ends of your summer dress / You want them to see you like they see any other girl / They just see a faggot."

Perfume Genius | Queen ( Art Pop )
Perfume Genius surprised listeners by transforming his usually delicate sound into something more avant-garde in 2014. In this gay anthem he declares himself queen and confronts the perception that gay otherness threatens family values (“No family is safe when I sashay”).

Courtney Barnett | Pickles from the Jar ( Indie Rock, Singer/Songwriter )
This song is about Barnett's relationship with her partner Jen Cloher.

Sam Smith | Stay with Me ( Pop Soul )
Smith has said that this song (and most of his album In the Lonely Hour) was inspired by a complex relationship with a straight guy he fell in love with, but who couldn’t love him back the same way.

Toya Delazy | Forbidden Fruit ( Hip House, Contemporary R&B )
In some parts of the world LGBT rights keep improving, but the opposite is happening in other parts. For example, there have been horrific incidents of violence against LGBT people in Russia since the country enacted laws discriminating against LGBT people in 2013, and there are countries in the Middle East and Africa where homosexuality may be (and sometimes is) punished by death. Even in South Africa, which is the only country in Africa where LGBT people have pretty much the same rights as heterosexual people, beyond the major cities the view still prevails that homosexuality is “un-African” or “un-Christian”. It is therefore a breath of fresh air to have a popular (lesbian) South African performer like Toya Delazy challenge that view.

Javiera Mena | Espada ( Electropop )
I decided to include this song by the Chilean singer Javiera Mena following a suggestion to do so by Honorio below. So far, it's the only song on this list that's not sung in English, but you can find many more excellent recommendations by others below. The title of the song, "Espada", means sword in English. Google Translate tells me that some of the lyrics are sexually suggestive, and you can be forgiven for making heterosexual connotations as the song is sung by a woman and the sword is quite a phallic symbol. But Mena is lesbian and the object of her affection here is a woman, which is also made clear in the video of the song.


Shamir | Call It Off ( Synthpop, Electro-Disco )
Shamir identifies as androgynous and genderqueer, and said in an interview with Out that "I don't identify as gay because I don't identify as male or female". This song is about the relief that is felt after ending relationships or experiences that are bad for us.

Years & Years | King ( Dance-Pop, Synthpop )
Like many other songs by this synthpop trio, "King" is inspired by gay frontman Olly Alexander's past relationships.

Villagers | Hot Scary Summer (Indie Folk)
This wistful song describes a same-sex couple on the verge of breaking up. But it seems that the scariness of that hot summer doesn't only have to do with the couple's fear of losing each other, but also their fear of being victims of a homophobic attack: "Remember kissing on the cobblestones / In the heat of the night / And all the pretty young homophobes / Looking out for a fight / We got good at pretending / And then pretending got us good / We've always been up against it / But now it's sad to see / We're up against each other in this hot scary summer".

Brandi Carlile | Wherever Is Your Heart ( Alt-country, Folk Rock )
Carlile identifies as lesbian and has a wife and daughter. This is a lovely song about home being where the heart is.

The Internet feat. KAYTRANADA | Girl ( Alternative R&B )
The Internet is fronted by lesbian DJ/MC Syd Tha Kyd, and in the song she sings about wanting to be the object of affection of a girl she likes.

Holly Miranda | All I Want Is to Be Your Girl ( Indie Pop, Singer/Songwriter )
Another song with a female protagonist telling a woman that she wants to be her girl.

Angel Haze | Candlxs ( Hip Hop, Pop Rap )
Angel Haze already has a girl. This song is about her relationship with her girlfriend Ireland Baldwin.

Julia Weldon | All I Gave Her ( Indie Pop, Singer/Songwriter )
2015 was a good year for lesbian love songs. “I never hide that I’m writing about women in my songs and it feels good to be as honest as possible,” Weldon told BuzzFeed. “I feel lucky I don’t feel the need to censor my song ideas through editing or omitting gendered pronouns.”

Julien Baker | Something ( Singer/Songwriter )
And this love song by lesbian singer/songwriter Julien Baker is arguably the most affecting of them all.

Troye Sivan | Wild ( Electropop, Synthpop )
Troye Sivan has said that all the songs on his EP Wild are about boys. In an interview with The Advocate he expressed a desire to be a positive role model for the next generation. He said, “I know being able to see a gay artist who was living a happy, successful, and healthy life is something I would’ve appreciated seeing when I was 13 years old. The thought of being that for someone else is really awesome to me, and it motivates me to keep living my truth openly, honestly, and proudly.”

Priory | Put 'Em Up ( Electropop )
This song from Oregon electropop band Priory draws inspiration from vocalist Brandon Rush watching his brother growing up gay in a conservative and religious family. About the video, Rush explained, "We wanted to show regular people doing regular things in an anonymous fashion until they came together in a place of mutual acceptance where everyone had a chance to be free to be whatever they were on the inside or outside”.


Sia | The Greatest ( Dance-Pop, Electropop )
The song (and music video) is a tribute to the victims of a mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando in the USA in June 2016. The music video features 49 dancers, one for each victim of the shooting. It seems to me that the song celebrates the spirit of being defiant and trying to be the best you can be in the face of adversity ("I'm free to be the greatest / I'm alive"), which is something the LGBT community have managed to do for many decades. Yet despite the uplifting, catchy music and lyrics, there’s also a sense of tragedy about how that spirit and potential came to an abrupt end for the victims of the shooting.

Blood Orange | Augustine ( Alternative R&B, Synthpop )
Speaking of the Orlando shooting, the album Freetown Sound by Blood Orange (also known as Dev Hynes) was released in the aftermath of that shooting. Hynes dedicated the album to the marginalised in society and said that the album is for everyone who’s “not black enough, too black, too queer, not queer the right way”. Although the song “Augustine” is partly a reference to the religious figure Saint Augustine, the marginalised seem to be present in the song too, and there’s also a sense of male intimacy throughout the lyrics. This is emphasised by the shots of a book called Black Queer Studies in the music video.

Kaytranada | Lite Spots ( Alternative R&B, Funky House )
Another black, queer (sorry for the stupid labels!) artist who received critical acclaim in 2016 was Kaytranada, who came out as gay in an interview with The Fader in April 2016. In that interview he talked about the anxiety he had felt about his sexuality, as well as eventually reaching acceptance. Although he doesn’t explicitly address his sexuality in his album 99.9%, many people have commented that the song “Lite Spots” displays much of that sense of acceptance. The song (very heavily) features samples of Gal Costa’s “Pontos de Luz”, with lyrics containing a strong focus on happiness and being glad. Until he releases a song that is more directly about his sexuality, this will do.

Shura | What’s It Gonna Be? ( Synthpop, Dance-Pop )
Lesbian synthpop singer/songwriter Shura has said that the song and video is about “thinking you’re in love but then realising that’s maybe just because you feel you should be, and ending up with someone totally unexpected.”

Tegan and Sara | Boyfriend ( Electropop, Synthpop )
Tegan and Sara are identical twins who both happen to be lesbian. The song “Boyfriend” was inspired by a former girlfriend of Sara’s. This girlfriend had never been with another woman before and was also seeing a guy from time to time. Sara felt that she was being treated like a boyfriend and wanted to make their relationship official, but realised that her girlfriend wasn’t ready for that.


I didn't want to include too many songs per year, reason being that I had concerns about this opening post being too long. But as each year goes by and more songs are added, this post is inevitably becoming... well... long. So instead of listing only a handful of songs from 2017 I'm thinking "whatever" and will list 31, in alphabetical order.

Arca - Desafío
Arca (real name Alejandro Ghersi) is a gay Venezuelan producer and singer based in London. He sings in Spanish here. The title "Desafío" translates as "challenge," but it can also mean "defiance." Although the song is certainly bold and defiant - it sounds like it's part of an experimental, religious opera from the future - there is also something in his voice that sounds wounded or injured. The video emphasises this futuristic, queer vulnerability (as does many of his other videos).

Chastity Brown - Whisper
Chastity Brown is an American singer-songwriter. She wanted this song (and video) to show intimate moments that represent the beauty of queer love.

Cub Sport - O Lord
Although "O Lord" is a pop song, the organ-led instrumentation and harmonies give it a gospel feel. Vocalist Tim Nelson wrote the song after coming out. He explained in an interview with Music Feeds, "I suddenly had everything I’d ever wanted. I was free to be my true self, I was finally in a relationship with the love of my life and I had full love and support from my friends and family, but what I didn’t expect was the realisation that when you get everything you’ve ever wanted you suddenly have everything to lose. This song ended up being my way of grappling with those feelings." The love of his life he referred to is fellow Australian band member Sam Netterfield.

Fever Ray - A Part of Us
In an interview with The Guardian, Swedish songwriter, singer and producer Karin Dreijer (AKA Fever Ray) said, "I’m definitely a queer person, but I’m very gender-fluid, I think." The song "A Part of Us" is about the safe cocoon of queer spaces, specifically nightclubs. But Dreijer explained that it's also about sometimes not feeling safe beyond those spaces, as exemplified by the line "what we are brings the wrong kind of attention out here." She mentioned in the interview that some of her friends are from Iran, where homosexuality may be punished by death.

First Hate - The One
First Hate are a duo from Denmark. "The One" is a synthpop and new wave song that's a throwback to the 80s - and I think it's a style that really suits lead singer Anton Falck Gansted's voice. As the title implies, it's a song about the complications involved in finding (or trying to be) "the one".

Fischerspooner - Have Fun Tonight
This song by the American electropop duo is another throwback to the 80s, but one that sounds fresh too. One half of the duo, Casey Spooner, has said that he wanted the song (as well as the album it comes from) to be "unabashedly homosexual". It's obviously a song about having a fun evening, but it's probably also about open relationships ("I want to hold you near / Now go have fun without me / You know that I'll be here").

Frank Ocean - Chanel
The line "I see both sides like Chanel" is likely a reference to Frank Ocean's bisexuality. The song also challenges notions of masculinity with the line "My guy pretty like a girl" and the reference to the "straight acting" guy he had sex with.

Halsey feat. Lauren Jauregui - Strangers
Both Halsey and Lauren Jauregui identify as bisexual. This hugely popular song (laced with cool synths and a catchy hook) is overtly about a relationship between two women. Halsey has said "I just love that Lauren and I are two women who have a mainstream pop presence doing a love song for the LGBT community, it's unheard of. It's very rare to see it from a female perspective."

Hayley Kiyoko - Feelings
Hayley Kiyoko identifies as gay. In an interview with Flaunt, she described this song as "super special" to her: "I wanted to write an anthem celebrating these ‘feelings,’ as opposed to suppressing them like society often makes people do in today’s dating scene. We have feelings, we get involved, and sometimes we can’t control it. After all, we’re human." In the video she expresses her feelings to another woman.

Jay Som - Baybee
Jay Som is the project of queer indie musician Melina Duterte. In the song "Baybee" she notices that her partner isn't in a good place, but knows that leaving her alone won't be the best option for their relationship ("If I leave you alone / When you don’t feel right / I know we’ll sink for sure").

Julien Baker - Appointments
This song by gay singer and guitarist Julien Baker likely describes the difficulties of being in a relationship while having mental health issues ("Appointments" in the title and lyrics presumably refers to appointments with a doctor or psychiatrist). And it's about holding on to hope under such difficult circumstances ("Maybe it's all gonna turn out all right / Oh, I know that it's not, but I have to believe that it is").

Jussie Smollett - F.U.W.
It wouldn't be a truthful representation of LGBT music from 2017 if there wasn't at least one song that condemned Donald Trump. I'm choosing "F.U.W." by Jussie Smollett to serve that purpose. Smollett is an American actor, singer and photographer. In an interview with Out Magazine, Smollett clarified his sexual orientation by stating, "If I had to label myself, I would label myself as a gay man." However, he also said that openness to love is more important than gender, revealing that "if I fall in love down the road with a woman, I’m going to love that woman." The song "F.U.W." (abbreviated for "Fucked Up World") references controversial issues from the first 100 days of the Trump administration, from the fight for transgender bathroom rights to the travel ban set in place by the President.

Kehlani - Honey
This song by R&B songstress Kehlani opens with the lyrics "I like my girls just like I like my honey; sweet / A little selfish". Speaking to MTV News, she said, "I am very openly queer. I thought that my music lacked representation of how my actual life is. I thought it was important to be myself fluidly in my music and not just in my life. My art mimics my life, so you know I have a girlfriend, and it’s only right that that’s what I make music about and that I’m able to put that out confidently."

Kelela - LMK
Kelela is a second-generation Ethiopian-American who identifies as queer. She has said in multiple interviews that being a queer, black woman in the music industry has meant that she has had to work very hard to achieve what she has achieved. She has also said that she wants her music to be empowering to other queer, black women. This also applies to "LMK" (short for "Let Me Know"), a song about being in control of your body and your sexuality.

La Louma - Tin Roof Now
There is something uplifting about the sonic backdrop of this song by La Louma (AKA Lauren Ross), yet it's a song about depression. She pleads for the sound of heavy rain on the tin roof to "drown out [her] senses" and "let the world be flooded out". But it's also a song about survival. In an interview with Culture Collide, Ross explained that “being a gay teenager living in the [American] South in the late 90s, I often felt isolated. Survival demanded adaptability."

Leon Else - What I Won't Do
Gay musician Leon Else wrote "What I Won't Do" when he was struggling to come to terms with his sexual orientation. After he'd finished writing the song, he felt a strong sense of release. He explained in a Facebook post that the song was intended to be "my own way of saying that everything is not as it seemed; it’s not a woman I wanted in my bed, but a man. It was my way of releasing the burden I felt without anyone really knowing my secret. We all deserve love. It’s what makes life wonderful."

Macy Rodman - Born
This song by trans artist Macy Rodman is a cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run," but the lyrics are reworked and musically it's an eerie reinterpretation that sounds nothing like the original. Speaking to Loverboy Magazine, Rodman said, "I wanted to make this freaky deaky cover and really bring out a kind of ghoulishness."

MØ - Nights with You
Karen Marie Ørsted, known professionally as MØ, is a Danish electropop singer and songwriter. On "Nights with You" she sings directly to a woman who is clearly very special to her, and many people have interpreted it as a gay love song. But MØ has said that "Nights with You" was written for her "best and oldest friend, and the song is a celebration of our friendship and of my love for her." So, this song should probably not be included here as MØ doesn't identify as LGBT, although she certainly is a fervent ally. But I'm including it anyway because of the plausible interpretation that it's a same-sex love song (the video features same-sex couples).

MUNA - Crying on the Bathroom Floor
MUNA is an electronic pop group consisting of 3 women who all identify as queer. The band has said that they wanted the lyrics to "Crying on the Bathroom Floor" to be about "the concept of traumatic bonding. Traumatic bonding refers to the phenomenon of survivors in abusive relationships forming strong attachments to their abusers. This attachment plays out on a physical, biochemical level throughout the cycle of abuse, akin to the highs and the withdrawals of a drug addiction. We were interested here in trying to portray the nuanced inner-struggle that comes with being mistreated."

Parson James - Only You
This song by gay singer and songwriter Parson James is a soulful, emotionally charged breakup ballad. James had a hard time coping with the breakup, but explained in an interview with Out Magazine that he has healed. He said, "I look at the song now and think that I'm actually singing to myself rather than to him. I think that I lost a part of myself in the relationship, and I've been trying to find my way back to that person. I am slowly but surely getting there."

Partner - Play the Field
Both members of the Canadian duo Partner, Josée Caron and Lucy Niles, are gay. "Play the Field" is a playful indie / power pop song about being crap at sports and being OK with it... and only really doing it to hang out with an athletic girl they like.

Perfume Genius - Slip Away
The lyrics to "Slip Away" are about forbidden love and about throwing yourself into a relationship that other people are trying to stop. For Perfume Genius (real name Mike Hadreas) this forbidden love refers to gay love and how some people still see it as wrong. In an interview with NPR Music he said, "Everybody kept asking me why I was writing about all this, when gay people can get married and it’s not illegal to suck dick in Wyoming or wherever — but there are still a lot of really horrible things going on right now."

Quay Dash - Decline Him
Quay Dash is a transgender rapper from the Bronx in New York. Her presence in the hip hop scene comes at a volatile time for transgender people in the US. Despite increased visibility for trans people within the mainstream media and an apparent increase in cisgender allies, dozens of trans women are killed in the US every year. Commenting on this in an interview with The Guardian, Dash said, “They can’t take it, especially people who are not of color. They look down on a black trans woman like me. It’s like, ‘How could you do that? How dare you?’" So at a time of violence against trans women, why then is Dash rapping about money, bitches and guns? Because she's hard as fuck and wants her voice to be heard. And her presence as a trans rapper might help break down some barriers. As she has said herself, "I’m here to stay and I'm here to slay."

Rubby - Know Me
Rubby is a queer Dominican R&B singer who refuses to use gendered pronouns in his songs. "Know Me" is a recollection of love lost. Speaking to Out Magazine, Rubby said, "The lyrics to ‘Know Me’ were initially a confrontation I had staged in my mind with my first boyfriend after he went on a school trip and fell in love with someone else. After the breakup, I became very confused because I would still see him around campus. I was hurt and didn’t know how to move on, so I turned to music."

Sakima - Daddy
"Daddy" is an apt example of the dirty pop songs written by London-based artist Sakima (born Isaac Sakima). He deliberately wants his songs to be dirty. In an interview with Billboard, he explained, "I’m not doing it for the sake of it or because I’m a horny fucker. I’m doing it to represent gay people. We’re so underrepresented in pop music, especially when it comes to sexual expression."

Sam Smith - Too Good at Goodbyes
There exists a belief that people become more tolerant of homosexuality if they know one or more gay people in their personal lives. Because listening to and appreciating music is such a personal, important thing for a lot of people, I don't think it's irrational to argue that we also "get to know" our favourite artists through the music and lyrics that they make available to us. Sam Smith has millions of fans around the world, and he has made no secret of it that most of his songs were created as the result of his heart being broken by men he has loved. I hope that more and more people will increase their level of tolerance as they listen to his music. About his song "Too Good at Goodbyes," Smith explained in an interview with the BBC, "To be honest, this song isn't about anyone else, this is about me and how I deal with heartbreak. It isn't about the other person. The other person was actually really lovely, which makes it all that much harder."

St. Vincent - Los Ageless
Annie Clark, better known by her stage name St. Vincent, doesn't relate to any specific label regarding her sexual orientation. She said in an interview with Rolling Stone, "I believe in gender fluidity and sexual fluidity. I don't really identify as anything. [. . .] I think you can fall in love with anybody." Her latest album Masseduction appears to occasionally make reference to her relationship with her ex-girlfriend, the model and actress Cara Delevingne, especially the heartbreak and disillusionment that came from that relationship. Even on "Los Ageless," a song about Hollywood's superficiality and its obsession with staying young, you get the impression that she really means it when she suddenly changes the topic to sing, "How can anybody have you and lose you and not lose their minds too."

Sufjan Stevens - Mystery of Love
"Mystery of Love" was written by Sufjan Stevens for the soundtrack of the acclaimed gay-themed film Call Me By Your Name. The song is a beautiful backdrop to the budding relationship between the two main characters in the film.

The xx - I Dare You
Co-leads Madley Croft and Oliver Sim both identify as gay. On "I Dare You" Croft and Sim explore feelings of being infatuated with someone. The album that the song comes from (I See You) was partly inspired by Sim's past struggles with alcohol, and lyrics like "Intoxicated" and "a different kind of high / A rush of blood" might be a reference or comparison to that.

Tyler, the Creator feat. Estelle - Garden Shed
On his debut album Tyler, the Creator (born Tyler Gregory Okonma) used the word "faggot" and other anti-gay lyrics 213 times, which unsurprisingly led to accusations of homophobia. However, on his latest album (Flower Boy) the lyrics on a few songs suggest that he might in fact be gay (or bisexual, or at least somewhere on the spectrum). This is perhaps most notable in the song "Garden Shed," which seems to be about keeping one’s sexual orientation concealed, more commonly referred to as being "in the closet."

Wrabel - Bloodstain
Wrabel is a queer musician from Los Angeles. On "Bloodstain" he sings that opening his heart "has left a bloodstain" and he admits that he doesn't know "how to make a man stay." But he's ultimately "alright with it" and "would rather love and bleed than never feel love at all."[/quote]

And here's a Spotify playlist, courtesy of our own Henrik Franzon...

Last edited by Dan on Thu Oct 11, 2018 9:50 pm, edited 28 times in total.
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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by Pierre » Fri Sep 12, 2014 8:48 pm

I've always been intrigued by the way societies deal with gay and transgender people. I personally never cared about the sexual orientation of people, although I did have trouble for a time with the idea of transgenders, but a certain video which was famous a while ago about a boy's transition to girlhood made me turn my mind about it. Anyway, in the case of music, I've sometimes found it funny how critics say "Over the Rainbow" is a gay song just because Judy Garland's a gay icon (or other artists such as the ones you mentioned). Personally, I consider a song a gay song when the theme of the lyrics is overtly about gayhood, and I do love a healthy amount of music that is perceived as "gay" by other people without being gay myself. Strange. Great topic, here are a few more songs you might like:

Charles Aznavour - Comme ils disent (As They Say) (1972)
Although not gay himself, Charles Aznavour made this breathtaking and moving song about a man (working as a transvestite dancer) suffering from how people perceive his homosexuality. It was surely influential in France on our perception of gay people at the time.

Funkadelic - Jimmy's Got a Little Bit of Bitch in Him (1974)
As Ned Raggett put it in his review of "Standing on the Verge of Getting It On" for allmusic, it's great to see that the founding fathers of funk had an open-minded view of gay sex, when you see how the hip-hop culture often showcased a disgusting homophobia while sampling those same funk acts.

Buzy - Body Physical (1985)
The song's main subject is not exactly gay love, but rather the girl narrator's wanderings in filthy places of Bangkok. But the lyrics and to some extent the video showcase a peripheral attraction from the girl narrator to another girl.

Indochine - 3ème sexe (3rd Sex) (1985)
The song's protagonist is ranting about gender stereotypes, claiming in the chorus that he loves both "that girl with blonde hair and that boy who would be free to say no".

Mecano - Mujer contra mujer/Une femme avec une femme (A Woman With a Woman) (1990)
A sweet pop ballad from Spanish pop group Mecano about lesbian love. The song was a hit in both Spain and France in two different language versions, as the band had the good idea to record it in both languages.

In France, a high profile gay artist is Étienne Daho, although he only touched the subject of gay love sporadically in his songs. An underground one was the late Alain Kan, who was much more open about it (he was a glam rocker in the 70s) but remained little-known because of his provocative lyricism and behaviour. Mylène Farmer is also a gay icon here, but she's not lesbian herself, and her songs are ambiguous enough (except perhaps her first hit "Maman a tort" which is hard to not understand as a lesbian love song).

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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by Nassim » Fri Sep 12, 2014 9:17 pm

Comme Ils Disent is a very beautiful French standard and the only old "chanson française" song I see about being gay.

Electrelane - On Parade
I think the girls in Electrelane have various sexual orientations but the drummer is openly gay, they have a very strong lesbian fanbase and they often cover "Small town boy" live.
Anyway, lots of their lyrics are ambiguous enough to be possible for both a same sex or opposite sex lover (see In Berlin, Cut and Run...), but On Parade is one of the more openly gay ones, being an hommage to the lesbian novel "The Well of Loneliness".

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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by Brad » Fri Sep 12, 2014 9:21 pm

Awesome post Dan! (and follow-up Pierre!)
Very impressive & informative stuff.

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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by hectorthebat » Fri Sep 12, 2014 10:13 pm

1967: Arnold Layne - Pink Floyd

1974: Another Love - Stories

1986: ¿A quién le importa? - Alaska y Dinarama

1990: Pet Shop Boys - Being Boring

1997: Ballad of Cleo and Joe - Cyndi Lauper

2000: Affirmation - Savage Garden

2001: Garbage - Androgyny

2002: Beautiful - Christina Aguilera

2005: Mystery Jets - Alas Agnes

2011: Lady Gaga - Americano

2012: Matt Fishel - Behind Closed Doors BEN - Adair Lion

2013: Steve Grand - All-American Boy

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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by DocBrown » Sat Sep 13, 2014 12:02 am

Great list, Dan, as usual, with some of my personal favourites. I used to have a live recording of Tom Robinson's "Glad to be Gay" (not on the album I thought, however) where, just before the final chorus he stops and says deadpan "You don't have to be gay to sing along.... but it helps".

Some other suggestions:

Long John Baldry's cover of "A Thrill's a Thrill"(1979). On the verge of being a star in Britain in the 60's, Baldry emigrated to the (relatively) more liberal Canada in 1978, where I was fortunate to meet him, in Halifax, shortly thereafter, and again here in Edmonton not long before his death in 2005. A gentle giant of a man with a huge laugh. The song has a kind of louche, behind closed doors 1960's feel.

Jonathan Richman's "I Was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar" (1992). I remember in the late 70's, early 80's being invited by friends to join them at the gay bars, and felt quite honoured to be included in the party, because the party always seemed a little more fun there. Richman captures that feeling of privilege.

Kacey Musgraves "Follow Your Arrow"(2013). It's sad that a one-liner about kissing whoever you like is still controversial in country music today, but I love her delivery, as if to casually poke holes in the rednecks' balloon.

Thanks for sharing, Dan!

Almost forgot! Mary Lambert's vocal in "Same Love" was NOT a sample, but she later expanded her "I Can't Change" riff into a track "She Keeps Me Warm" with this delightful video.

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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by HRS » Sat Sep 13, 2014 1:48 am

Great thread! I'd add:

1. Laura Nyro - Emmie from Eli and the Thirteenth Confession:
Critics at the time decided to overlook its theme and declare it a song about a mother and its daughter or sisters. Nyro was bissexual, died by the company of her female partner. Emmie is known as one of the first songs to deal with homossexual relationships. The slower moment before the ultimate change of pace always warm my heart.

2. Kate Bush - Kashka From Baghdad from Lionheart:
I recently dedicated this one to my very own boyfriend. It's a very tender number from Lionheart about a male homossexual relationship happening in secrecy. Bush tenderly sings of the joy the both cherish and how much she would like to join a similar happiness someday along with someone. I posted the original demo that called the attention among others of David Gimour before Bush was signed, because it sounds more intimate than the original recording. I've always admired Kate Bush and there are not many fifteen year olds having this sensitivity in song.

3. Arthur Russell - Soon to be innocent fun/Let's see from World of Echo:

4. Ani DiFranco - In or Out Imperfectly (1993)
Ani Difranco has plenty of songs that address her bissexuality from her 90s albums and this one is a rather straightforward number dealing with labels.

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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by jamieW » Sat Sep 13, 2014 1:46 pm

Awesome thread, Dan! So many favorites of mine, including a few that I never caught the meaning (especially “Standing In the Way of Control”) that I now have an even deeper respect for. Really glad that Army of Lovers was included. They may be campy, but “Massive Luxury Overdose” is a fun album that I still love.

At first, I was surprised “Take Me To Church” wasn’t included, given its powerful video depicting homophobia. But after reading the lyrics, they really are ambiguous (as you said in your introduction) and Hozier has stated that they were inspired by a breakup with his girlfriend, so, as a song, it doesn’t seem to have a LGBT theme.

Growing up in the 80s, there were two other bands that I thought might be worth mentioning. Book of Love, a new wave/dance act somewhat similar to Army of Lovers, was an artist that often recorded songs about sexual orientation. Much more explicit, direct, and controversial, though, was the Canadian band, Rough Trade. Lead singer Carole Pope recorded many lesbian-themed songs, including “High School Confidential” which became a surprise hit in Canada. I’ve read that she was an inspiration to k.d. Lang, amongst others. Rough Trade’s song “All Touch” is one of my favorite songs from 1982. Thanks for posing this great list! (I'm looking forward to hearing the songs I'm not familiar with.)

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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by Miguel » Sun Sep 14, 2014 12:08 am

Thanks for this excellent thread, Dan.

I don’t think there are many songs in the Spanish pop-rock music that speak of this question, but we can mention some very interesting.

“María y Amaranta”, by Cánovas Rodrigo Adolfo y Guzmán - a "supergroup" in the vein of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young -, from "Señora Azul" (1974), considered among the best Spanish albums ever made. This song - btw, if I'm not mistaken, a favorite of our friend Honorio - talks about the lesbian relationship between the two women mentioned in the title. This is the final verse:

Sacerdotisas de algún paraíso
que no alcanzamos todos los mortales
se sumergieron en una liturgia
de mil caricias casi celestiales
Y en la fascinación irresistible
que las atrajo desde que se vieron
como dos gotas, como dos estrellas
María y Amaranta se fundieron.

(Priestesses of some paradise
that not all mortals can reach
they were immersed in a liturgy
of thousand almost celestial caresses
And in the irresistible fascination
that attracted them since they met
like two drops, like two stars
María y Amaranta merged together.)

“Canço d'amor” (Love Song), by Lluís Llach. From “Campanades a morts” (1977). Some people think that this song represents his "coming out from the closet". The first verse is quite telling:

Si avui parlo d’amor
és per dir-vos, potser
sense força ni traça,
que he fet tantes cançons
amagant veritats
sota un joc de paraules.
És potser per això
que me cal dir-ho ara.

(If today I speak about love
is perhaps to say you
without force or skill
that I wrote a lot of songs
hiding truths
under a pun.
Maybe I have no reason,
but now I need to say it.)

“Don Marcial” by Vainica Doble. From “En familia” (2000).
This song is about a married, middle-aged, pathetic, yet endearing clerk, that after work goes to Chueca to flirt (unsuccessfully, of course). The final verse:

Cuando se va el personal
se toma otra copa, se cambia de ropa
Ceñidos vaqueros, camiseta azul
ay! recuerdo de Cancún
Tras colocarse un atroz peluquín
ah! que figurín
como una gallina clueca
se va a la plaza de Chueca
Nadie le hace caso
ni se inmuta a su paso
Se pasea por la plaza
de terraza en terraza
En aquella babel, nadie se fija en él
Están sonando las tres
Don Marcial vuelve a casa
El corazón herido
El rimel corrido
El peluquín de través

(When staff leave
another drink is taken, changes clothes
Tight jeans, blue shirt
ah! souvenir of Cancun
After putting an atrocious toupee
ah! that dandy!
as a brood hen
he goes to Chueca square
Nobody pays attention
nor flinch in its path
He walks through the square
from terrace to terrace
At that babel, nobody notices him
It's three o'clock
Don Marcial returns home
The wounded heart
The mascara run
The toupee upside down)

Colerete y quitasueño (Rouge and Dark Circles Makeup), by Nacho Umbert y La Compañía, from “Ay…” (2010). When the farce is over:

Niño marica, solían llamarte, las ratas del pueblo.
Mierda de infancia, esquivando pedradas, paletos, animales.
Fin de semana, se encienden las luces, se acaba la farsa.
Te vistes de negro, tacones y pluma, colorete y quitasueño.
Noches de colores, de secretos en los baños.
Apareces cada viernes puntual como un reloj en La Divina
reputada discoteca clandestina.
Te hablan, te miran, te adoran, susurran que te quieren
ladrones, princesas, payasos, macarras, modernas y actores … tan guapos

(Sissy boy, they used to call you the rats of the town.
Shit childhood, dodging stones, bumpkins, animals.
Weekend, the lights come on, the farce is over.
You dress in black, heels and camp, rouge and dark circles make up.
Nights of colors, of secrets in the bathrooms.
You show up on time every Friday like clockwork in The Divine
reputed clandestine disco.
They talk to you, they look at you, they adore you,
they whisper that love you,
thieves, princesses, clowns, thugs, moderns and actors... so handsome)

And finally a song already mentioned by Hectorthebat:
”A quién le importa”, (Who Cares) by Alaska y Dinarama, from “No es pecado” (1986). Not strictly a LGBT-themed song, like “Dancing Queen” or “I Will Survive”, but usually considered the main Spanish pop gay anthem. Here is a translation.

(Obviously my English is not very good, so I'm not sure that the translations are quite correct)

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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by DocBrown » Sun Sep 14, 2014 12:14 am

jamieW wrote:Much more explicit, direct, and controversial, though, was the Canadian band, Rough Trade. Lead singer Carole Pope recorded many lesbian-themed songs, including “High School Confidential” which became a surprise hit in Canada.
How could I have forgotten Carole Pope, who was (according to her biography) in a relationship with Dusty Springfield in the early '80's... that alone should give her AM cred. But JamieW reminded me of another great Canadian artist from that time period who can't be ignored, Lorraine Segato. This is possibly the cheesiest video ever.

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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by Honorio » Sun Sep 14, 2014 9:11 pm

Absolutely wonderful thread, Dan!! A goldmine that I still got to savour slowly (I'm still listening right now to the 1974 songs), I will return later when I got more listening done.
The only comment I'm going to do now is about the LGBT-themed Spanish songs. When I first saw the thread I began to think about some Spanish songs about the subject but some other AMers (Pierre, hectorthebat and especially Miguel) did it before. And perfectly! So I will only add two more songs and make some additional comments about the Spanish songs already posted.

Three names for two songs. Rafael de León (first picture) was a Spanish poet that teamed up with Antonio Quintero y Manuel Quiroga to write the most renowned songs of the style Canción Española (Spanish Song) during the 30s, 40s and 50s. Rafael was homosexual and wrote lyrics about passionate, desperate and tortuous loves, almost always addressing male lovers. Since most of the songs were sung by female singers (especially Concha Piquer) there were no suspicious for the conservative society of the post-war period.
But that's when these songs were sung by male singers (despite some changes in the lyrics designed to disguise the thornier aspects) when the songs achieved their real meaning. That was the case of Miguel de Molina (second picture), the first openly gay singer in Spain (Dan, we talked about him when we were at the cue for the flamenco concert, do you remember?). It was a star during the 30s (the Spanish Republic period) but after the Spanish Civil War he suffered the ostracism of the Franco's regime. After being severely beaten after a concert he exiled in Argentina. One of his most significant songs (written by Rafael de León after an evening chatting in a bar with Miguel de Molina and Federico García Lorca, probably the most important Spanish poet, also gay) is Ojos verdes ("Green Eyes," live version from the 1930s), a story of a one-night love story between a prostitute and a green-eyed young boy. Despite the changes in the lyrics (now it was sung from the point of view of the young boy) it was inevitable to see the gay thematic at the time.
The trick was repeated some years later by Bambino (third picture), another gay singer (in his case even more against the current being a gypsy). He made his version of Rocío Dúrcal's Mi amigo ("My Friend", 1971), also changing the point of view but leaving little space to doubt about his real intentions, at least in the eyes of his true followers.
Note for Dan: these songs can't be really included on your list because these changes on the lyrics to avoid the polemic transformed the songs in (passionate) but straight love songs.

About the songs pointed by Miguel, Pierre and hectorthebat:
- Cánovas, Rodrigo, Adolfo y Guzmán - "María y Amaranta" (1974). Yes, Miguel, it's one of my favourite songs by the band. The most interesting aspect is the way they achieved the overlook of the strict censorship of the late Franco period, they used metaphors as "drops" or "rays" that fooled the censors (they probably didn't understood the lyrics).
- Lluís Llach - "Cançó d'amor" (1977). Yes, the first (and only) song by Llach about his homosexuality, other verses of the song are more explicit: "I will talk about the ones / that have bodies as prisons / of condemned passions, / and on a clandestine bed / when it's night time at last / they hide and caress."
- Alaska y Dinarama - "A quién le importa" (1986). The lyrics don't mention explicitly the gender but the proud statement of independence and the fact that both song-writers Carlos Berlanga and Nacho Canut were openly gay left no space to doubt. Carlos Berlanga was much more explicit in a posterior solo song, Vacaciones ("Holidays", 2001), with lyrics like "Love of latex and rubber / holidays in Sodom."
- Mecano - "Mujer contra mujer" (1988). Apart of this song about lesbian love Mecano sometime created some gender confusion because the boys wrote the songs from a male point of view but the songs were sung by a girl without changing the gender on the lyrics.
- Vainica Doble - "Don Marcial" (2000). Didn't know that song before, good call, Miguel.
- Nacho Umbert y La Compañía - "Colorete y quitasueño" (2010). One of the songs that I wanted to point out, a LGBT-themed song if there's one.

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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by Hymie » Sun Sep 14, 2014 9:26 pm

Jet Boy, Jet Girl - Elton Motello

My Girl Bill - Jim Stafford
A Boy Named Sue - Johnny Cash :=)

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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by Sweepstakes Ron » Sun Sep 14, 2014 9:35 pm

Dan wrote: Lady Gaga | Born This Way ( Dance Pop )
This song about being born the way you are is undoubtedly a tribute to Lady Gaga's huge number of LGBT fans, especially the gay ones.
A little story about this one. A few years ago, my middle school's chorus performed this song. However, after the second chorus, the singers went right to the outro, effectively eliminating any direct references to the LGBT community. And somehow, I doubt the cut was because of time constraints. My town is known among its community as being super liberal, so this censorship shocked me more than it would normally.
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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by Miguel » Mon Sep 15, 2014 11:47 am

Honorio wrote:Carlos Berlanga was much more explicit in a posterior solo song, Vacaciones ("Holidays", 2001), with lyrics like "Love of latex and rubber / holidays in Sodom."
Don't forget the third sentence of the verse :) :

Amor de latex, caucho y goma / vacaciones en Sodoma / ¿qué prefieres, mantequilla o tulipán?
Love of latex, rubber and gum / holidays in Sodom / which do you prefer, butter or margarine?

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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by Dan » Wed Sep 17, 2014 7:19 am

Thanks very much for your comments and excellent recommendations, Pierre, Nassim, Brad, hetorthebat, DocBrown, HRS, jamieW, Miguel, Honorio, Hymie and Sweepstakes Ron.

Belated responses…

Brad: I still feel a little bad about once taking the side of You Know Who at your expense. I pledge not to do such a thing again. :D

jamieW: I’ve been meaning to say for quite a while now that I love your measured comments and amiable temperament – they are real assets to this forum.

DocBrown: thanks for epitomizing the kind of relaxed liberal attitude that makes it easy for me to post a thread like this. The straight guys that have posted in this thread so far (and many other regulars) contribute to making this an LGBT-friendly site. Of course, we have Henrik to thank for establishing an open-minded, unbiased atmosphere (in fact, the many LGBT-related songs, albums and films in his personal lists and recommendations are part of what I’ve always liked about him, and was one of the main things that attracted me to this forum in the first place).

Miguel: I’ve always liked the surprising things we have in common about our taste in music.
HRS wrote:I recently dedicated this one to my very own boyfriend.
Well, I didn’t know about this development. I feel a Skype chat coming on.
Honorio wrote:Miguel de Molina... (Dan, we talked about him when we were at the cue for the flamenco concert, do you remember?)
Yes, I remember this well, Honorio. I think I will have fun exploring more of his music and history, which I plan to do (thanks also for your other recommendations in this thread and your enlightening descriptions of them). On a side note, I find it kind of curious that some of my favourite Spanish discoveries for the 70s poll have been albums and songs by Lluís Llach and Bambino, and I had no idea they were both gay.
Sweepstakes Ron wrote:
Dan wrote: Lady Gaga | Born This Way ( Dance Pop )
This song about being born the way you are is undoubtedly a tribute to Lady Gaga's huge number of LGBT fans, especially the gay ones.
A little story about this one. A few years ago, my middle school's chorus performed this song. However, after the second chorus, the singers went right to the outro, effectively eliminating any direct references to the LGBT community. And somehow, I doubt the cut was because of time constraints. My town is known among its community as being super liberal, so this censorship shocked me more than it would normally.
I know, right. Either embrace the whole meaning of the song or don’t bother doing it at all. I guess even in liberal communities people are still scared to upset parents who might be worried that their kids will turn queer if they sing the lyrics "No matter gay, straight, or bi, lesbian, transgendered life".
Pierre wrote:I personally never cared about the sexual orientation of people, although I did have trouble for a time with the idea of transgenders, but a certain video which was famous a while ago about a boy's transition to girlhood made me turn my mind about it.
Thanks for your honesty about this. I can understand why people sometimes find it difficult to get used to something. Our brains sometimes work in a peculiar way, making us feel squeamish or uncomfortable about certain things we perceive as “unnatural” or repulsive. In the LGBT context, it’s a shame that some people take this discomfort they feel about LGBT people and then turn it into something hateful. It can even make them feel superior and that they have the right to make decisions about LGBT people’s freedoms. Fortunately, there are many people who realize that enduring discomfort and not externalizing it and lashing out is a strength; people who come to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter if someone is LGBT because it doesn’t impinge on them in any way (it’s like getting upset about someone liking chocolate cookies more than ginger ones); people who know that tolerance can eventually lead to acceptance or even celebration of diversity.

I’m not sure which transgender video you are referring to, but this video (which I also posted a link to in my first post) is another one that has helped some people to get a better understanding of transgenderism.
Pierre wrote:I do love a healthy amount of music that is perceived as "gay" by other people without being gay myself. Strange.
I can totally relate to this. I feel the same way about many “straight” songs/themes. :mrgreen:
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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by Maschine_Man » Wed Sep 17, 2014 8:18 am

I like a few GSM artists, but it's not something I really look for in music. Scissor Sisters, Peaches and John Grant all have albums centered around these themes and they are some of my favorites. I identify as asexual even though have a boyfriend (sexual and romantic attraction are two different things, though for most they will be the same). Now that I think about it, this is probably how you would describe Morrissey.

I can only think of Janelle Monae to offer at this time. She has been pretty private about her sexuality/home life so nothing would surprise me. I like how she used "android" as a stand in for a range of oppressed groups, giving it almost universal appeal. Mushrooms and Roses, Q.U.E.E.N and the end of Givin Em What They Love are songs that stand out to me.

Oh and Stagger Lee by Nick Cave...

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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by Henrik » Wed Sep 17, 2014 8:31 am

Dan wrote:jamieW: I’ve been meaning to say for quite a while now that I love your measured comments and amiable temperament – they are real assets to this forum.
I second this! Also, I've been meaning to say for a while that this is a fantastic thread. It is, in fact, Honorio-class on all levels, which is my highest rating. Great suggestions from everyone as well!
Dan wrote:Of course, we have Henrik to thank for establishing an open-minded, unbiased atmosphere
Thanks Dan! This is really what I hope people will think of this forum, so it means a lot to me.
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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by Rob » Wed Sep 17, 2014 9:57 am

Great topic this.
Pierre wrote:I do love a healthy amount of music that is perceived as "gay" by other people without being gay myself. Strange.
It's not that strange if you think about it. There are a few patterns to discern in gay themes in lyrics. They are usually about standing outside the norm of society, celebrating differences or they are about plain old love or love lost. Those last two are universal topics that we find in hundreds of songs and the emotions the bring with them isn't really any different whether the people are same sex or of two different genders. Those first two topics can also easily be enjoyed by people who have felt different one way or another.

Of course there are also certain types of music that are thought of as gay, such as (early?) disco or musicals. Usually it concerns a certain kind of exuberance or sense of melodrama, as well as perhaps very feminine singing men or very tough singing women. It's a bit meaningless to look at it like that, but it reminds me of high school, when for certain kids my age listening to songs that might be gay was "suspicious". At the time I was listening to the radio with a friend and The Final Countdown by Europe came on. This friend of mine than proclaimed it the greatest song ever made (yes, without irony). No less than a month later the song came on the radio again and he turned it off as soon as he could. I asked him why he did that, after having recently stating it was the best thing ever. He said he didn't like it anymore, because he found out it was a gay song and he wasn't gay. This is the only time I've heard The Final Countdown being described as gay, but that is beside the point. We were both still in our early teens and it was the first time I heard that a song good be gay. When I found out that some of my earliest musical interests (Elton John, for example) were gay I thought it was strange I could relate to it, but it soon started to make sense, since these artists simply where either expressing a good time or sharing their emotions. Music, like all the arts actually helps making it more relatable to straight people, for whom the world of LBGT can be a strange and new world.

My favorite "gay" song hasn't been mentioned here yet, though the artists have been: It's a Sin by the Pet Shop Boys. They don't mention what the sin in their song is, but I always thought being the Pet Shop Boys homosexuality made a lot of sense, also looking to the hints the song gives. I love how the lyrics are about the theme of trying to do penance for your sins and failing to do so and then put it over an exuberant dance song, that ultimately celebrates sins like these. What's more fun than dancing to lines like: "At school they taught me how to be/ so pure in thought and word and deed/ they didn't quite succeed"? An all time top 50 song for me for sure.

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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by Nassim » Wed Sep 17, 2014 10:11 am

A few other French ones :

1970 : Dave - Copain, Ami, Amour (Mate, Friend, Love)
In the 60s and 70s in France the few songs about gay were from straight singer. The Dutch singer Dave was one of the first successful singers in France to be openly gay, but most of his songs are about heterosexual love stories. This is one of the few exceptions, and it is very sudbued.

1970 : Juliette Gréco - Les Pingouins (The Penguins)
Ok that's a bit of a strange one. First let's say that technically "Un Pingouin" is an auk, but we often confuse the name with Penguins (not helped by the English word to be honest) and the lyrics seems to be more about Penguins than auks...
Anyway, the songs is about Male Penguins who stay together, wear make up and dress well and Female Penguins who tend to hide together, never wear wake up and avoid males... so quite a bit cliché, but it also says the Penguins and Humans are basically the same and should get along... so it's cliché and caricature but I guess it was the only way back then to both get your message received and be vague enough not to get censored.

1978 : Fabienne Thibault - Un Garçon Pas Comme Les Autres (A boy not like the other) from the Starmania musical
A song about a girl who loves a gay guy called Ziggy. There's not that much gay topic beside saying "Yes I know he loves boys" but I'm pretty sure that's the first French hits openly about a gay character.
There is also a song called "La Chanson de Ziggy" (Ziggy's song) where Ziggy talks about his childhood and how his mother wanted him to be a classical dancer and how David Bowie changed his life, but there's no open nod to his homosexuality.

1980 : Francis Lalanne - La Plus Belle Fois qu'on m'a dit "Je t'Aime" (the most beautiful time someone told me "I Love You")
Francis Lalanne is a straight singer, but he recalls the time another man told him he loved him, how it was the most sincere and touching time anybody told him that and how he regrets not having found a better way to react. It is in a way a bit lame because it says "we did not have him and I much more to say. We saw each other another day, we didn't say anything" but it ends with a message of tolerance "To each his love, that's not mine that's all. Love girls or boys, love is love anyway".

1983 : Marc Lavoine - Tu Me Divises Par Deux (You divide my by 2)
Once again this is by a straight singer (I don't know regarding the song composer), this time about bisexuality.
"I have the heart between 2 chairs, and love between 2 sexes (could be translated as "2 genders", we have the same word for both meanings). If it makes you uncomfortable, keep your finger for yourself."

1984 : Serge Gainsbourg - Kiss Me Hardy
It's a bit surprising Gainsbourg did not talk about it earlier, at least seeing how much he liked to tackle conventions and social taboos. Not much to say about this song, about hooking up with other men.

1986 : Pigalle - Homosexuel (couldn't find this one on Youtube)
French gay community had to wait for a punk rock band to get a profound song about homosexuality. This is about the long struggle of a gay man before finding happiness, it goes through teenage turmoil, denial, acceptance, lying to others to protect yourself etc...
It took you a long time before finding serenity
it was so long, so long
Affirmation, certainty : he loves you, you love him, no more solitude
No more shame when they understand
You feel his soft badly shaved cheek
Your hand on his hard flat chest
It was long, so long

Go over the bridge, go over the bridge
Keep your head high, love yourself, love him

Starting in 1990 you see much more songs about LGB (not much T) in France, even a few singles by high profile successful artists (Adam et Yves by Zazie and La Différence by Lara Fabian for instance, both by straight singers).
The sadly high number of people on the street against gay wedding last year shows that homophobia is still very present in France, but music (and the others arts) have lead the progress made in the past decades.

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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by Luke JR68 » Wed Sep 17, 2014 9:21 pm

Seriously, thank you for creating this thread Dan, it has been an absolute pleasure to read through the 4 decades of carefully selected material that you have provided, and while I can't really add any further examples, I look forward to listening to everything that has been mentioned by you and the our fellow forumers :music-listening:

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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by jamieW » Wed Sep 17, 2014 11:29 pm

First, thank you, Dan and Henrik, for your kind words regarding my participation on the forum. From day one, my goal was to feel free to express my opinion while making an effort not to offend anyone. I always want to keep in mind that individual tastes vary greatly and what might not appeal to me may be very special to somebody else.

Secondly, the discoveries I’ve made from this thread have been amazing. From the original post to the recommendations that followed, I’ve found so many unfamiliar songs that became instant favorites (and I still have much more to hear). Threads like this that have introduced me to so much great music (and the friendly people that participate in them) are the reason why I enjoy checking into the forum each night after a long day at work.

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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by JR » Thu Sep 18, 2014 11:21 pm

A few more off the top of my head that could fall under the LGBTcategory:

Elton John, "The Last Song" (1992)
A man tries to come to terms with the sexuality of his gay son, who is dying of an AIDS-related illness

Madonna, "Deeper and Deeper," "Why's it So Hard," "In This Life" (1992)
It's no wonder the Erotica album is so loved by some in the gay community. "Deeper and Deeper" has lines like "This feeling inside, I can't explain... but my love is alive, and I'm never gonna hide it again." "Why's it So Hard" asks "Why's it so hard to love one another," and what people have to do to be accepted, respected, feel they're equal, worthy, and who should get to say what they believe in, etc. "In This Life" is about friends of hers who died of AIDS.

Janet Jackson, "Free Xone," "Tonight's the Night," "Together Again" (1997)
In spots, The Velvet Rope took some cues from Erotica. "Free Xone" is about love of all kinds and freedom to be who you are. In the Rod Stewart cover, she kept the pronouns in tact for some of it, turning it into a lesbian romp, before a man comes along for a threeway. :mrgreen: "Together Again" is an upbeat song about friends who have died of AIDS, but it also works as a general tune about lost loved ones.
Last edited by JR on Fri Sep 19, 2014 7:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by Jirin » Fri Sep 19, 2014 4:08 am

I'm not gay but I have several not distinctly masculine qualities about myself so I know how that causes some people to treat you. Especially when you're younger. It's absurd how people react to gender nonconformity of any kind.

The question of transgender is an interesting one. Personally I have no problem with transgender people, but if I found out a woman I was dating was transgendered I'd probably be pretty pissed off. The fear of violence they have to go through right now is probably just as bad as the fear of violence gay people had to live with decades ago, and that is simply ridiculous.

Also I have trouble understanding why people need to define their identity as one gender or another rather than just being themselves and not giving a damn about social constructs. Having surgery because your personality conflicts with your biological gender seems extreme.

All of the LGBT songs I would have mentioned have already been listed.

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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by Dan » Sat Sep 20, 2014 4:17 pm

Maschine_Man wrote:Stagger Lee by Nick Cave
Whoa. I can't believe I forgot to include this song about that bad motherfucker Stagger Lee and his bisexual tendencies. The song was inspired by the popular American folk song with the same title, but the most quoted line from the song ("I'll crawl over fifty good pussies just to get one fat boy's asshole") is actually from a Snatch and The Poontangs song called "Two-time Slim". And I like the suitably homoerotic video of the Nick Cave & Bad Seeds song.
Maschine_Man wrote:Janelle Monae... I like how she used "android" as a stand in for a range of oppressed groups
Thanks for this. Just to elaborate, she said in an interview with London Evening Standard that you can compare the android in this context to "being a lesbian or being a gay man or being a black woman... What I want is for people who feel oppressed or feel like the 'other' to connect with the music and to feel like, 'She represents who I am'".
Henrik wrote:It is, in fact, Honorio-class on all levels
Wow. Thanks!

Rob, thanks very much for your eloquent contribution to this thread. I enjoyed reading it. Same to you, Jirin, although I just want to point out that some people who undergo sex reassignment surgery do it because they absolutely hate the sex organs they were born with.

And Nassim, I enjoyed listening to your French recommendations and your descriptions of them.

Hey, thanks for your kind words, Luke JR68 and jamieW. People's reaction to this thread has made the time spent on it worthwhile.

Also, thanks for your suggestions, JR. I wasn't familiar with the LGBT context of the songs you mentioned. And I'm sure Moonbeam will be pleased that Janet Jackson got another mention in a thread. :D
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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by Honorio » Sat Sep 20, 2014 4:55 pm

Henrik wrote:It is, in fact, Honorio-class on all levels, which is my highest rating.
Wow, that was really the best of compliments. Many thanks, Henrik!! :romance-kisscheek:

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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by DocBrown » Sat Sep 20, 2014 5:06 pm

Dan, thank you again for starting this discussion. I hope that those who don't wish to contribute have also read something to add to their understanding here.
While I am far too cynical to believe in a John Lennon world with no religion, race or nation states, I like to think we're within reach of a time when we can all agree that gender identity and preference is not an either/or but a continuum. Our friends here certainly typify that.

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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by hectorthebat » Mon Sep 22, 2014 10:21 pm

1979: Boys Keep Swinging - David Bowie

1993: Bi - Living Colour

2005: Bleed Like Me - Garbage

2008: Better - Boyzone

2010: The Best Thing About Me is You - Ricky Martin

2012: Chow Down - Willam Belli featuring Detox and Vicky Vox Ci Vediamo a Casa - Dolcenera

2013: Brave - Sara Bareilles

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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by Zorg » Sun Sep 28, 2014 12:14 pm

My college has recently set up a feminist discussion group discussing issues of sex, gender and equality. I've now volunteered to run a talk on the relationship between music and issues of gender (so including things like female icons, LGBT or not (e.g. Janis Joplin/Debbie Harry sort of figures). So in advance, I'd like to thank you for setting up this thread, as it will be valuable and enjoyable hours of research!

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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by Henrik » Sun Sep 28, 2014 5:21 pm

Zorg wrote:My college has recently set up a feminist discussion group discussing issues of sex, gender and equality. I've now volunteered to run a talk on the relationship between music and issues of gender (so including things like female icons, LGBT or not (e.g. Janis Joplin/Debbie Harry sort of figures). So in advance, I'd like to thank you for setting up this thread, as it will be valuable and enjoyable hours of research!
Zorg, I could provide a diagram with the percentage of female artists per year on AM, if that would be of any interest for your talk.
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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by BleuPanda » Sun Sep 28, 2014 6:51 pm

As one of the gay members of this forum I should really take a better look through this topic sometime, but thanks for the work put into it!

Also, quick shout-out to Perfume Genius's new album Too Bright. "Queen" is one of the best gay anthems ever written, and the whole album is phenomenal.

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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by Zorg » Tue Sep 30, 2014 10:03 pm

Henrik wrote:
Zorg wrote:My college has recently set up a feminist discussion group discussing issues of sex, gender and equality. I've now volunteered to run a talk on the relationship between music and issues of gender (so including things like female icons, LGBT or not (e.g. Janis Joplin/Debbie Harry sort of figures). So in advance, I'd like to thank you for setting up this thread, as it will be valuable and enjoyable hours of research!
Zorg, I could provide a diagram with the percentage of female artists per year on AM, if that would be of any interest for your talk.
that sounds amazing! Thank you!

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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by Henrik » Wed Oct 01, 2014 12:31 pm

Here is a diagram showing the amount of points over the years, broken down by gender and albums/songs.
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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by Henrik » Wed Oct 01, 2014 1:18 pm

And here is a diagram of the percentage of female score by year. It seems that during the first half of the 1960s the thought was that women could only sing (male-written) songs, not make albums...

Also, what I haven't really realized before is how much the 65-73 period was a male-only peak.
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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by Jirin » Fri Oct 03, 2014 5:09 pm

Is anyone else disturbed that it seems every time there is a peak in the overall critical success of a year, there seems to be a valley in the female percentage?

If I look at my own favorite female performers and my own favorite male performers, it seems like the male performers are critically acclaimed and the female performers are largely ignored other than PJ Harvey and Joni Mitchell. You don't see a lot of acclaim for the likes of Mary Margaret O'Hara, Anais Mitchell, Jenny Hval, X-Ray Spex, etc.

I suppose Grimes got some acclaim.

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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by Dan » Sun Dec 28, 2014 5:39 pm

I've added three more songs to the 2014 section of my original post. Perfume Genius's "Mr. Petersen" from 2010 has been replaced by 2014's "Queen". And if it wasn't for the one song per artist rule, I would definitely have included "I Try to Talk to You" by Hercules & Love Affair feat. John Grant in that 2014 bit too.

Special thanks to Merryn Johns, editor-in-chief of Curve, the leading lesbian magazine in the US, for her kind words in a message to me, and for displaying such good taste by echoing HRS's suggestion of Kate Bush's "Kashka from Baghdad". Thanks also to Gabe Hongsdusit from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) for inviting me to write a similar "article" for the university's LGBT publication.
DocBrown wrote: Kacey Musgraves "Follow Your Arrow"(2013). It's sad that a one-liner about kissing whoever you like is still controversial in country music today, but I love her delivery, as if to casually poke holes in the rednecks' balloon.
This song made headlines when it won the Country Music Award for Song of the Year in November. Hey, maybe the tide is turning for country music.
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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by Kenton11 » Mon Jan 05, 2015 10:40 am

Hey I didn’t know that LGBT stands for “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender”. Thanks for telling dear!! Well there are a lot of themed songs that have been composed for bisexual / lesbian. You know there is a big list of gay actors list that got more importance in the theme songs.

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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by Honorio » Sun Feb 15, 2015 3:31 pm

Dan, maybe you should include in your list for 2014 "Espada" by Javiera Mena. Quoting MTV Iggy: "Mena came out as a lesbian many years ago, but for the first time, gay pride is very evident in her work. She collaborated with Spanish visual artist Luis Cerveró, who formerly worked with Canadá Electoral — a visual production team praised for their fantastical juxtapositions in music videos. Luis directed the very pop, lipstick-lesbian video for "Espada," which has been dubbed the "gayest video of all time" by AutoStraddle (in one scene, a hand emerges from Mena's crotch). "The main premise is that it's packed with double entendres," she says. "But of course, when I sing it to a gay chick, then it sounds pretty sexual: 'La espada que me atraviesa' / 'The sword that goes through me.' Luis wanted to give it lots of sexual symbolism, something a bit more explicit, so a sword enters in between the girl's legs."

The clip

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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by hectorthebat » Sun Feb 15, 2015 6:57 pm

1920: Kurt Schwabach - Das Lila Lied

1967: The Jam - David Watts

1981: The Boys Town Gang - Cruisin' The Streets

1987: Aerosmith - Dude (Looks Like a Lady)

1998: Marilyn Manson - The Dope Show

2008: Mylene Farmer - Dégénération

2009: Ru Paul - Cover Girl

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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by Dan » Sun Feb 15, 2015 8:49 pm

Honorio wrote:Dan, maybe you should include in your list for 2014 "Espada" by Javiera Mena.
Thanks Honorio. I'm pleased that there's another song I could include in the 2014 part (which I did). It's certainly a catchy pop song (and I like the 80s feel of the video). At some point I thought of including everyone's suggestions in the main list, but then that first post would probably be too long. People's recommendations have definitely provided this thread with a more comprehensive account of LGBT songs than just the main list.
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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by Dan » Mon Sep 07, 2015 10:00 pm

I’ve kept an eye on this thread over the past month, and it seemed to get a few views every week despite being on page 6 or something, which suggests to me that people are accessing it in ways other than trawling through all of the forum posts. So I thought to myself that if more and more people are going to read this thread, then I could make it better by providing more detail about the variety of sexual orientations and gender identities that exist. Maybe it will help people to listen to some of the songs differently.

Below are descriptions of a number of gender identities and sexual orientations (and some thoughts on them). This post might be too long for some people to read, in which case I’d just say that it all basically comes down to this:
DocBrown wrote:...gender identity and preference is not an either/or but a continuum.
First off, I should say that I’m no doctor, psychologist or sociologist who specializes in gender identity or sexual orientation. This post is simply the result of me researching/reading about the topic due to an interest in it combined with some personal experiences. Another thing to bear in mind is that there is no fixed definition of any sexual orientation or gender identity. One person who is, say, pansexual will have a different definition of what it means to be pansexual and experience it in a different way than someone else who is pansexual. So there might be people who disagree with the definitions provided below. But the beauty of self-identifying with a label is that you can make it your own and identify with it any way you like. Fuck the Gender and Sexuality Definition Police.

I’m sure some people will wonder if all these labels, labels, labels are really necessary. Can’t we just be who we are without having to be labelled? In an ideal world, that would be great. But I do think there are a couple of advantages to highlighting the seemingly infinite possibilities that exist in the realm of gender identity and sexual orientation: it can be educational because it teaches us more about the nuances of human nature, and, perhaps more importantly, it might help some people reach the realization that there is a sexual orientation or gender identity that resonates with them deeply; they just didn’t know that there was a name for it. Many people come across definitions of a gender identity or sexual orientation and think, “Hey, that’s exactly how I feel. I thought I was the only one who felt that way. I didn’t know there were others like me.”

I’ve included a few YouTube links below. The majority of them are to videos of people talking about a specific gender identity or sexual orientation – most of those people are young Americans, who seem to be crazy about vlogging and appear to be the most open among the English-speaking nations to discuss these things.

Gender Identity

It’s probably best to start off by pointing out the difference between sex and gender in the English language. Sex refers to biological characteristics that distinguishes male and female from each other, such as genitalia (males have a penis, females have a vagina), chromosomes and hormones. Gender, on the other hand, is a social construct and refers to social roles based on the sex of a person. Social roles in relation to gender have traditionally been perceived from a cisnormative perspective – cisnormativity is the belief that people fall into two distinct genders of man and woman, and that men have masculine roles while women have feminine roles in society. This creates a gender binary of masculine man at the one end and feminine woman at the other end, and nothing in-between. Traditionally, masculine roles are associated with strength, aggression and dominance, while feminine roles are associated with passivity, nurturing and subordinance.

In many of today’s societies, such a strict binary between masculine and feminine is not as applicable as it used to be. Being, for example, strong-willed, determined and energetic aren’t solely masculine characteristics and can apply to both genders. Similarly, being understanding or showing empathy and compassion are not only feminine characteristics but can apply to both genders. Also, these days men and women who are in a relationship contribute fairly equally to the income of a household; men and women share duties around the house that are traditionally affiliated with women, such as cooking and cleaning; and many heterosexual couples raise children in an environment where fathers aren’t always the stronger and stricter parent, and where mothers aren’t the only parent providing emotional support to the children.

However, there are still certain behavioural traits that we attribute to either male or female: girls play with dolls, boys play with cars; women paint their nails, men don’t; women wear dresses and trousers, men wear trousers but not dresses; women can have graceful hand movements and sway their hips when they walk, men can’t; men can fix cars, women can’t; men are heroic, women are damsels in distress… etc. These roles/stereotypes are ingrained in us from a young age, to the point where we live our lives on a daily basis thinking that these roles are natural when in fact they are false.

There are many people whose behavioural traits do not match these gender roles/stereotypes. This nonconformity with gender roles has an effect on some people’s gender identity (the internal awareness one has of one’s own gender). People who feel a strong disconnect between their own behavioural traits and the traits that society says you should display in relation to your gender, are often called gender variant. The term gender variant is very broad, and people who are gender variant are not necessarily transgender. Getting confused? I’ll try to explain…

Just to throw another term into the mix, gender identity (again, the internal awareness one has of one’s own gender) can roughly be divided into two main categories: cisgender and transgender. You are cisgender if your gender identity is in alignment with the sex you were assigned at birth. Conversely, you are transgender if your gender identity isn’t (either wholly or partly) aligned with the sex you were assigned at birth.

So why did I say that people who are gender variant aren’t necessarily transgender? Because some people who might not like or might not relate to the gender binary and stereotypical gender roles still feel that their gender identity is aligned with the sex they were assigned at birth. Examples of this are femme cisgender men (men who are feminine but who identify as male, which is the sex they were assigned at birth), butch cisgender women or tomboys (women who are masculine but who identify as female), cross-dressers (people who dress in clothes usually associated with the opposite sex for personal gratification or to express their feminine/masculine side, but who identify with the sex they were assigned at birth – as a side note, cross-dressers are sometimes referred to as transvestites, but transvestite is an outdated term that both cross-dressers and transgender people often find offensive), drag queens (men who wear clothes usually associated with women for the purpose of entertainment, most of whom – though not all – identify as male), or simply anyone who feels a strong mismatch between their gender identity and society’s gender roles, but still align their gender with the sex they were assigned at birth.

How, then, do you know if you’re transgender? Although it’s not a prerequisite to being transgender, the majority of people who identify as transgender experience gender dysphoria. Gender dysphoria is a feeling of distress, anxiety, or even depression that you can experience when you feel that your gender identity does not align with the sex you were assigned at birth or the gender roles associated with that sex. Some transgender people feel that their gender identity is only sporadically out of sync with their assigned sex, others experience gender dysphoria more frequently, while still others feel that they are trapped in the wrong body. Some scientific studies indicate that gender nonconformity is something that is already established in nonconforming individuals’ brains at birth and that most people know what their gender identity is as early as the ages of between 3 and 5.

I should probably mention at this point that not all people who feel that their gender identity is not aligned with their sex relate to the term transgender. Other umbrella terms similar to transgender are non-binary and genderqueer. Some people prefer non-binary over transgender or genderqueer, others prefer genderqueer, still others feel comfortable using both non-binary and transgender. Whatever. Like I said before, I think everyone is free to self-identify with whichever label or labels they relate to. But for the purpose of keeping things simple, I will use the umbrella term transgender for the rest of this post.

So, what are some examples of gender identities under the transgender umbrella? Obvious examples are trans men and trans women. A trans man (sometimes called a female-to-male transgender person, or simply a FTM) is a transgender person who was assigned female at birth but whose gender identity is that of a man. However, some trans men don’t feel comfortable with the acronym FTM because they don’t like to be referred to as female-to-male when they have felt that they were male all along, and therefore they prefer the acronym MTM (male-to-male). Similarly, a trans woman (or male-to-female transgender person, or MTF, or FTF) is a transgender person who was assigned male at birth but whose gender identity is that of a woman. I should also point out that many trans men and women don’t like the trans part in trans man or trans woman and prefer to be simply called a man or a woman, because that’s what they’ve felt like since a very young age: a boy/man or a girl/woman, regardless of being assigned the opposite sex at birth.

Many trans men and women choose to transition, which is the process of changing one's gender presentation permanently to accord with one's gender identity. Transitioning may involve hormone replacement therapy (or HRT), which is the process of receiving the dominant hormones of the sex one wishes to transition into. Trans men are typically given testosterone, while trans women are given estrogen. Transitioning may also involve sex reassignment surgery (or SRS), which is the surgical procedure of changing someone’s sex to that of the opposite sex. Transgender people who undergo hormone replacement therapy or sex reassignment surgery have traditionally been called transsexuals. However, many transgender people who transition by means of HRT or SRS don’t like the term transsexual because of negative portrayals of the word in the media and because of connotations that they perceive as too clinical, so they choose to continue to identify as transgender.

To many trans men and women it is important to pass as the gender they have transitioned into – in other words, some trans men want people to look at them and see them as a cisgender man, and some trans women want people to look at them and see them as a cisgender woman. Many trans men and women do pass very successfully. However, not all trans men and women want to (or think it’s important to) pass as cisgender. This is where it’s imperative to highlight the difference between gender identity and gender expression. Gender expression refers to people’s appearance and clothing in relation to societal gender roles. There are trans men and women who don’t feel that it’s necessary to take hormones or undergo sex reassignment surgery to be a trans man or woman. Some transgender people who were assigned male at birth still identify as a woman despite having the outward appearance of a man (hell, some even have a beard). Others were assigned female at birth but identify as a man despite feeling absolutely no need to bind (binding is the act of flattening your breasts by using cloth, bandage or other materials). There are trans men who undergo top surgery to flatten their chests and take testosterone to pass as a cisgender man, but don’t go for bottom surgery and therefore still have a vagina. Similarly, there are trans women who take estrogen to produce a feminine look and form breasts, but don’t go for bottom surgery and therefore still have a penis. It doesn’t make their identity as a trans man or woman (or simply a man or woman) any less valid.

I’m going to provide a disproportionate amount of YouTube links about trans men and women compared to other gender identities (and sexual orientations). This is because I feel that trans men and woman receive more abuse than anyone else in the LGBT community in the comments sections of YouTube, Twitter, other media and social media platforms, and in “real life”. They have to be tougher than anyone else when confronted with haters. Ultimately, I hope that societies as a whole will one day acknowledge their significant contribution to making human beings the wonderfully diverse species that we are. In the meantime, I will continue to think of them as one of the best examples there is of how to live a truly authentic life, even when faced with people who tell you that you are sick and unnatural. Here are some links to YouTube videos of trans men and women:

YouTube 1
YouTube 2
YouTube 3
YouTube 4
YouTube 5
YouTube 6
YouTube 7
YouTube 8

In addition to trans men and women, there are many other gender identities under the transgender umbrella. Some of these gender identities fall somewhere in-between identifying as a man or a woman, while other identities fall outside of the gender binary. There are, for example, transgender people who do not view themselves as either a man or a woman and identify as third/other gender. There are also people who are very disillusioned with gender as a social construct and feel that they have no gender and identify as agender, genderless (YouTube), genderfree or neutrois (neutrois is slightly different here in the sense that although it is still a gender identity that relates to having no gender, people who identify as neutrois sometimes undergo medical treatment to make themselves look more physically neutral).

Some transgender people feel that they are both male and female, and identify as bigender (YouTube). There are bigender individuals who express two distinct female and male “personas”, feminine and masculine respectively, and can move between these two identities; others find that they identify as two genders simultaneously. Identifying as bigender is usually seen as different from identifying as genderfluid. Bigender people move between a masculine gender expression and feminine gender expression with little middle ground, while genderfluid people don’t go back and forth between fixed gender identities and may experience an entire range or spectrum of identities over time. That said, there are people who identify as both genderfluid and bigender.

Then there is androgyne (YouTube), which is a gender identity associated with androgynous people (people of indeterminate sex; partly male and partly female in appearance). People who identify as androgyne therefore have a gender which is simultaneously feminine and masculine, although not necessary in equal amounts.

The gender identities mentioned above are all Western explanations of binary and non-binary identities. Some non-Western ethnic groups have different views on gender. For example, the Bugis people of Indonesia divide their society into five separate genders (YouTube). When comparing these Bugis genders to Western genders, two of the five Bugis genders are similar to cisgender men and women, two can roughly be compared to transgender men and women, and the remaining fifth identity is a more abstract identity. The Bugis people have traditionally treated all five genders with respect, and they value the contributions that each of the five genders make to their society.

Another example of non-binary gender identities being treated with respect in non-Western societies could be found in pre-colonial North America. Among the Native Americans in the US and the First Nations in Canada lived people who were seen as two-spirit (YouTube). People who were two-spirit were believed to have both male and female spirits within the one body, and therefore had two identities occupying one body. Their dress was usually a mixture of traditionally male and traditionally female articles, or they dressed as a man one day and a woman on another day. Other people in their societies did not make them think that there was anything “wrong” with them. Two-spirit as a gender identity is experiencing a revival in North America, mostly among natives but also among non-natives.

Sexual Orientation

The sexual orientations that most people are familiar with are heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual. However, as is the case with gender identities, there exists a spectrum or continuum of sexual orientations beyond those three.

But let’s start with those familiar ones. People who are heterosexual (or straight) are both sexually and romantically attracted to people of the opposite sex or gender. People who are homosexual (or gay if they’re male and lesbian if they’re female – though some lesbians don’t like the word lesbian and prefer to be called gay) are sexually and romantically attracted to people of the same sex or gender.

Most of the time, when people say they are bisexual (YouTube), they refer to being sexually and romantically attracted to both males and females. This doesn’t necessarily mean that bisexual people are precisely equally attracted to both genders. Some bisexual people might profess to being, say, 65% attracted to women and 35% attracted to men. But they are still significantly attracted to both genders and can form a romantic relationship with either a man or a woman. However, many bisexual people point out that bi means “two”; therefore, bisexuality refers to being attracted to two genders, and those could be any two genders on the gender spectrum. Other bisexual people say that they are attracted to multiple genders on the gender spectrum and justify the “two” in bi by saying that they are attracted to two kinds of people: people of their own gender, and people of other genders.

I feel that bisexuality is still frequently misunderstood. Portrayals of bisexuality in the media, TV shows and movies don’t help – when a person or character displays attraction to someone of the same gender, they are immediately assumed to be gay, despite clear evidence that they have a history of being attracted to both men and women. This tendency to question or deny the existence or legitimacy of bisexuality is called bisexual erasure. Bisexuals often have to read or listen to myths and misconceptions about their sexuality: bisexuals are indecisive or confused about their sexuality; people who claim to be bisexual are really just gay; you can’t be bisexual and be faithful to one person; bisexual people are greedy; bisexual people are slutty and love a threesome in bed. I think this is all just silly. Like the bisexual guy says in the link above, if there are people on one end of the spectrum who are attracted to people of the same sex, and there are people on the other end of the spectrum who are attracted to people of the opposite sex, then it only makes mathematical sense that there are people who are fairly equally attracted to both sexes somewhere around the middle of the spectrum.

The orientation pansexual (YouTube) is often seen as similar to being bisexual. However, many people claim that pansexuality is more inclusive of transgender people than bisexuality. People who identify as pansexual are sexually and romantically attracted to people of any sex or gender identity. Pansexual people assert that gender and sex are insignificant or irrelevant in determining whether they will be sexually attracted to others. The emphasis is on feeling attracted to the personality of a person – sexual attraction will then follow, regardless of what that person’s sex or gender identity is.

There are a number of sexual orientations that are very similar to or interchangeable with being bisexual or pansexual, such as omnisexual, ambisexual, multisexual and polysexual. They may all seem like exactly the same thing to some people, but others see subtle differences in each orientation and choose to identify with the label they relate to the most.

A fairly recent term for someone who sees themselves as “mostly straight” but not bisexual is heteroflexible (YouTube). Heteroflexibility is characterized by minimal homosexual activity by someone who primarily engages in heterosexual activity. Heteroflexible people acknowledge occasional sexual attraction to someone of the same sex, but it’s only occasional and (unlike bisexual people) they don’t feel a desire to form a romantic relationship with someone of the same sex. Similarly, there are people who are homoflexible. It might be an exaggeration on my behalf to say this, but I honestly think that a LOT of people are heterofexible and homoflexible.

Being asexual (YouTube) or ace is another misunderstood sexual orientation that people generally don’t seem to know much about. One of the first things that asexual people usually point out is that being asexual is very different from being celibate. People who are celibate abstain, by choice, from having sex, typically for religious reasons. Someone who is ace, on the other hand, naturally has a low or absent interest in sexual activity and lacks sexual attraction to anyone. This doesn’t mean that asexual people never engage in sexual activity. Some ace people masturbate occasionally, and others will sporadically have sex with a partner to fulfil their partner’s needs. I feel that I should mention at this point that some sexual people (as opposed to asexual people) experience sexual desires but just don't need to have sex very often - this doesn't make them asexual. From what I’ve read, what distinguishes asexual people from sexual people is that ace people very rarely think about sex, feel alienated by it, don’t understand what the big deal is, would rather cuddle than have sex, place more emphasis on their partner’s personality than their level of sexual attractiveness, or simply don’t like sex and even find it repulsive.

As Maschine_Man mentioned in a previous post, asexual people distinguish between romantic attraction and sexual attraction. The difference between asexuality and sexuality in this sense is that people who more regularly engage in sexual activity are often sexually and romantically attracted to their partners simultaneously, while asexual people place much more emphasis on romantic attraction than sexual attraction. As a result of this, asexual orientations often include variations of the word “romantic” in them. For example, someone who is asexual but romantically attracted to only people of the opposite sex is heteroromantic asexual. Someone who is asexual but romantically attracted to only people of the same sex is homoromantic asexual. An asexual person romantically attracted to both men and women is biromantic asexual. And an asexual person romantically attracted to any sex or gender identity is panromantic asexual.

Somewhere in-between the binary of identifying as asexual and sexual are people who identify as gray-A (or gray asexual or gray ace). Gray asexuality is considered to be the gray area between asexuality and sexuality in which a person may occasionally experience sexual attraction, yet still relate to asexuality. Within this realm of gray asexuality are people who identify as demisexual (YouTube). Those who identify as demisexual only experience sexual attraction after achieving a close emotional connection with a partner or potential partner. Even then, sex is something that happens rarely. Similar to asexual identities, there is a distinction between romantic attraction and sexual attraction, and demisexual people can be heteroromantic demisexual, homoromantic demisexual, biromantic demisexual or panromantic demisexual.

The distinction between romantic attraction and sexual attraction is something that not only asexual or demisexual people can relate to, but also some people who identify as heterosexual or homosexual. It might be difficult to comprehend, but there are some heterosexual and homosexual people who have romanic feelings for someone who is not of the gender they feel sexually attracted to; feelings that go beyond a deep friendship. There are, for example, people who identify as biromantic heterosexual. This means that they are sexually attracted to people of the opposite gender but romantically attracted to people of both the same and opposite genders. They can form a romantic connection (and even fall in love) with someone of the same sex, and could be intimate with someone of the same sex to the extent of hugging and kissing them, but can’t get themselves to get naked with them and have sex with them. Similarly, there are people who are biromantic homosexual, panromantic heterosexual and panromantic homosexual.

That’s it for now. I’m sure I’ve left out gender identities and sexual orientations that I’m not aware of. Feel free to let me know of others, and please also let me know if you think I’ve totally misrepresented a sexual orientation or gender identity.

I hope this has helped to broaden your understanding of these things. If your brain is now fried or your mind fucked, I hope it’s in a good way.
Last edited by Dan on Fri Jan 13, 2017 10:00 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by Honorio » Wed Sep 09, 2015 4:58 pm

Very interesting comments, Dan! You may not be a doctor, psychologist or sociologist but your opinions and comments got a solid foundation and are very well informed and articulated. Surely better than many writings from experts. I learned a lot on a field I admit not being too informed before. Many thanks, Dan!

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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by Dan » Thu Sep 10, 2015 6:43 pm

Thanks very much, Honorio.

I have edited my last post above to include more gender identities as well as a number of sexual orientations.

I will be back at the end of the year with LGBT recommendations of 2015. Suggestions are welcome, of course.
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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by bonnielaurel » Fri Sep 11, 2015 2:53 pm

The first song that came to mind was "Nikita" by Elton John. That sounds like a girl's name, but in Eastern Europe it's a boy's name, think Khrushchev. There must be other examples of hits of which people didn't realize they had homosexual content.

And of course I kissed a girl by Katy Perry, about a heterosexual girl who takes a sidestep, like girls who practice on each other to learn how to kiss.

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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by jamieW » Fri Sep 11, 2015 7:06 pm

Dan, I haven’t had much time to participate on the forum lately, but I had to take time to thank you for your thoughtful and informative post. You mentioned concerns people might have about labeling, but I think what you’ve done is brought a spirit of caring and understanding for many people who have gone through much of their lives feeling a lack of it from society. It strikes a personal chord with me, since I grew up in a small, conservative community where I witnessed that lack of understanding—as well as outright hostility—toward the gay community. (And not just the gay community, but others within the continuum of gender identity that you so eloquently discussed. Basically, anyone who deviated even slightly from what the community labeled as “normal.”) Even before I was ten, their viewpoints felt wrong to me; but I often kept my opinions to myself, because I knew I was in the minority and feared the consequences of speaking up.

That all changed in junior high when my best friend told me he was gay. Since he was very open with me regarding his feelings and personal struggles, it gave me the courage to be more vocal against the homophobia surrounding me. Although I lost touch with him many years ago, I still view him as one of the key people in shaping my life, since he not only helped me continue along an open minded path, but also taught me to feel comfortable expressing my feelings—even if they weren’t held by the majority of those surrounding me. Although people in general seem to be more accepting now, I still hear negative comments from time to time, particularly regarding transgender individuals. I’ve always believed that education leads to understanding, which has been a major means of breaking down prejudicial barriers in the past, and will continue to be in the future. The people who write honest, intelligent essays—as you have—help to accomplish this goal, and I wanted to tell you that I very much appreciate and admire what you’ve done.

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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by Dan » Sat Sep 12, 2015 6:46 am

Yesterday afternoon I looked at this thread and wondered if my post about gender identities and sexual orientations wasn’t a bit too much. I wanted to draw people’s attention to things that they might not have been aware of, but there are always those who say things like “yeah, OK, you’re gay… we get it” or “enough of this gay propaganda”.

Then I woke up this morning, visited this forum and read jamieW’s post. And I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried. I cried because his comments embodied so much kindness and compassion. It’s wonderful that more and more people who do not identify as LGBT can be so understanding. So thank you, jamieW. To me (and I’m sure to other LGBT people reading this) your comments mean more than you realize.
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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by jamieW » Mon Sep 14, 2015 10:53 pm

Thank you, Dan. Your very kind words mean a lot to me, as well.

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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by Dan » Tue Jan 12, 2016 9:56 pm

I've updated the main post with songs from 2015.

2015 was a breakthrough year for Courtney Barnett. However, I don't think anything on her album Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit is as relevant in the context of this thread as her 2014 song "Pickles from the Jar", so I've added the latter to the 2014 section.

And if it wasn't for my one song per artist specification, I might also have included these songs:

Sufjan Stevens - John My Beloved
John Grant feat. Tracey Thorn - Disappointing
Le1f - Koi
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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by Maschine_Man » Tue Jan 12, 2016 10:08 pm

It would be nice to include Villagers - Hot Scary Summer from last year.

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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by Dan » Tue Jan 12, 2016 10:40 pm

Beautiful song - thanks for bringing it to my attention, Maschine_Man. I have now added it.
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Re: LGBT-themed Songs

Post by Dan » Sat Jan 14, 2017 3:30 am

2016 songs added. Please let me know if you think I've missed a song that really needed to be added. ;)
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