Often accused of flaunting their sexuality, queer artists often face opposition from critics who argue that sexuality shouldn’t impact the way they promote their music or themselves, suggesting that you wouldn’t hear of artists promoting themselves as ‘straight musicians’. Queer artists often create queer music, from romantic songs about queer crushes (i wanna be your girlfriend – girl in red) to sexual & provocative anthems (Slumber Party – Ashnikko ft Princess Nokia). But why is this important? Queer representation in the media has always been a hot topic, and rightly so, with an accurate representation of the full community on widespread media remaining a rarity – for further exploration, an interesting article on representation of LGBTQ+ people of faith within the media can be read here: https://www.stonewall.org.uk/about-us/news/why-we-need-more-representation-lgbt-people-faith-popular-culture.
As self-titled Queer pop artist, Cayley Spivey, explained, “Queer people don’t get to be casual everywhere…we need labels to find each other”. LGBTQ+ culture is not prevalent within so much music, with a massive culture of heteronormative lyricism, lacking any gender neutrality that could make it accessible and relatable to queer-identifying listeners. Sex and relationships are such common themes within art, especially within pop culture, yet a lack of diversity means that it still lies with criticised Queer artists, to give LGBTQ+ listeners relatable icons and a soundtrack to their lives.
“heteronormative lyricism, lacking any gender neutrality that could make it accessible and relatable to queer-identifying listeners”
Queer music is not a new phenomenon but has been fundamental to the progression of LGBTQ+ representation and recognition for decades. Take, for example, David Bowie’s exploration of fashion and gender in the 1970s which helped to bring queer culture to mainstream music. However, the presence of Queer artists, writing about issues that affect the LGBTQ+ community, and telling stories that resonate with their lives is still crucial in order to grow an inclusive and accessible, musical safe-space within the industry. Queer artists aren’t too gay or making their sexuality or gender identity their only personality within their music, they are putting their feelings, experiences, trauma and life-story into art, so stop criticising authenticity and self-expression.
Now onto some artists that you should be adding to your playlists this year: