There have been many LGBTQ artists who have made significant contributions to the music industry. These artists come from various genres, including pop, rock, hip-hop, and electronic dance music, among others. Some notable LGBTQ musicians include Freddie Mercury of Queen, Elton John, George Michael, Sam Smith, Frank Ocean, and Hayley Kiyoko, among others. These artists have used their platform to not only create impactful music but also to raise awareness and support for LGBTQ rights and issues. In recent years, the representation of LGBTQ artists has increased in the music industry and they continue to break barriers and push boundaries.
The 65th Grammy Awards provided our current cultural environment with some much-needed joy. Happiness was in full swing, with the 50th anniversary of hip-hop being celebrated, passionate speeches from Lizzo and others, and Beyoncé becoming the most-decorated Grammy-winning artist in history.
There was a beautiful and necessary exhibition of queerness, which is something that LGBTQ communities are used as ammo for those who want to restrict drag events rather than access to guns.
For LGBTQ people in the US, this year has already been a frenzy of events. When conservative politicians and pundits rave about “wokeness,” you are the talking point if you identify as homosexual, transgender, or somewhere in between.
Despite threats to our democracy, endless mass shootings, and claims of an increase in hate crimes, certain right-wing lawmakers’ insistence that the government should be in the bedrooms of tax-paying American citizens puts a minority of individuals who wish to live their best lives in danger.
The LGBTQ community is being utilized to stir up prejudice.
The governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, asserts that he turned down an AP course in African American studies because it covered “queer theory.”
US Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia illogically changed the subject during a crucial congressional hearing on pandemic expenditure last week by bringing up “drag queen story hour.” The political right is once again using fear to convince people that drag queens are the boogeymen in high heels.
This rhetoric has the potential to become law, with Missouri one of many states considering anti-LGBTQ legislation that would limit transgender athletes.
The Grammys were a fantastic, joyful celebration of LGBTQ talent against this political backdrop — not because it was “woke,” but because it was long overdue. Queer creatives have been constrained to supporting roles for far too long.
Beyoncé thanked the LGBTQ community for its support and for creating the genre after she won the Grammy for best dance/electronic recording for “Break My Soul.” God be with you.
A superstar like Beyoncé openly thanking her LGBTQ fan base on a global scale was formerly uncommon, but her gratitude goes beyond a statement. Black LGBTQ artists in particular were featured in her “Renaissance” project and received album credits.
Think of how people’s lives, especially Black LGBT artists, have been impacted by Beyoncé giving credit to folks who are otherwise neglected, electro-soul singer Cor. Ece, a Grammy nominee with a songwriting credit on Beyoncé’s “Cozy,” told me about Queen Bey.
Pop stars have established successful careers while leaving LGBTQ people out of the picture. Due in part to their LGBTQ fan bases, Madonna, Janet Jackson, Cher, Diana Ross, Lady Gaga, and numerous more have retained their celebrity status. These are undoubtedly excellent artists, but in their own words, they claim that the LGBTQ community’s unwavering support changed the course of their careers.
Queer people were not just in the background but also in the spotlight during the awards ceremony on Sunday. Brandi Carlile, Sam Smith, and the eclectic Steve Lacy all gave performances that demonstrated a wide breadth of expression that transcends sexual orientation and gender.
Kim Petras paid respect to trans artists who came before her in the performing arts. The singer added, “I don’t think I could be here without Madonna,” as she thanked Madonna for “working for LGBTQ rights.” And even though the internet is preoccupied with Madonna’s appearance and mocks her for not acting as a 64-year-old woman should, the gesture to Ms. Ciccone is appropriate. For LGBT individuals, Madonna was and still is a role model for blatantly being in the music industry alongside Sylvester, George Michael, Big Freedia, Sophie, and many more.
Similar to Madonna, Petras is receiving criticism for using “evil” imagery alongside Smith during their performance of “Unholy.” The manufactured controversy is quite similar to the uproar that followed Lil Nas X’s 2021 music video “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” in which he performed a lap dance for a CGI devil.
However, Smith and Petras’ performance doesn’t differ from the numerous other ways that artists have experimented with religious imagery. In actuality, the criticism of Smith, Petras, or Lil Nas X stems from the fact that they shouldn’t be celebrities rather than from their use of religious imagery.
For myself, I never imagined that I would live to see a day when queer musicians would be among the most well-known in the world without worrying about losing their professions. Sylvester, a dance artist, could sing soulfully as well as any soul singer, but in the 1970s, being a gender nonconformist hindered him from getting the recognition he deserved. At age 42, he passed away in 1988.
With “We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off” in 1986, Jermaine Stewart, who also challenged gender stereotypes, had a tremendous hit. However, he soon vanished from radio and passed away at the age of 39 in 1997. These artists, along with a few others, I suppose, would be proud.
The LGBTQ community in America does not no longer need to be afraid after one Grammys night. I do, however, hope that Sunday night’s performance shows that more gay artists are becoming well-known and powerful despite the current political context.
Beyond Pride Month and rainbow clothing from a nearby shop, queer artists desire to be recognized. Some people feel threatened by the exposure of these artists because they mistakenly think their “traditions” would be forgotten. However, both can exist whether you’re “traditional” or “nontraditional.” Other artists who also merit access include rapper Cakes Da Killa, performance artist Mykki Blanco, DJ and producer Honey Dijon, and more. Being an ally and having a seat at the table are both crucial.
R&B singer-songwriter Cameron Forbes, a resident of Chicago, said, “It felt like one of the most open Grammy ceremonies I’ve ever seen.” I’m not saying there isn’t much work to be done, but we are seeing a renaissance.