LGBTQIA+ artists have always been major players in the alt and punk scene. From Freddie Mercury and David Bowie to Halsey and Laura Jane Grace, rock music has been a place for those who are LGBTQIA+ to express themselves and their experiences.
Many artists use their songs as a platform to talk about LGBTQIA+ issues, relationships and experiences. Ultimately, those tracks empower others and make a statement, and they’re made by musicians who aren’t afraid to share their truth.
Historically, the LGBTQIA+ community has been forced to hide and pretend to be who they’re not due to social “rules,” bigoted laws and the like. That’s why GLSEN, an organization dedicated to creating and maintaining LGBTQ-inclusive K-12 learning environments, hosts the annual Day Of Silence every April. This international student-led demonstration occurs when LGBTQ individuals and allies “take a vow of silence to protest the harmful effects of harassment and discrimination of LGBTQ people in schools,” says GLSEN.
Ultimately, the Day Of Silence stands against the loud roar of hatred that is routinely cast at LGBTQIA+ people and calls for breaking the silence imposed upon members of the community.
We decided to shine a light on 10 songs made by artists who tackle topics such as marriage equality, gender identity and more. These artists are fighting back, breaking the silence and sharing their truth.
“The Tyranny Of Either/Or” – Evan Greer
It’s only fitting to start this list out with Evan Greer’s powerful pop-punk anthem about the transgender community. “The Tyranny Of Either/Or” is a track from Greer’s recent release Spotify Is Surveillance and is reminiscent of ’90s punk but with a modern spin. And the video is also a mini-history lesson about transgender activism that makes the message loud and clear.
“Standing In The Way Of Control” – Gossip
Gossip let it be known that the U.S.’s attempt to outlaw same-sex marriage wasn’t going to fly if they had any say in it. The electro-indie banger encourages people to never give up when it comes to civil rights, even when it seems like the whole world is against you.
“On Every Corner” – Ani DiFranco
Ani DiFranco‘s gut-punch of a song “On Every Corner” is a bleak and honest insight into the AIDs epidemic. The track was released at the beginning of the ’90s and truly encapsulates how helpless and dejected people felt at the time.
“They / Them / Theirs” – Worriers
Worriers‘ 2015 track “They / Them / Theirs” is all about gender expression and not accepting the binary nature of our society. The guitar-heavy track has plenty of attitude, and Grace‘s production can be easily heard on the first listen.
“Faceshopping” – SOPHIE
SOPHIE‘s chaotic song about gender expression, hormone treatment therapy, facial feminization surgery and more is an in-your-face song about appearances. Sadly, SOPHIE died at the beginning of 2021. However, the artist’s memory will forever live on in songs that were unapologetically SOPHIE.
“Queen Of The Rodeo” – Orville Peck
Alt-country artist Orville Peck made this song and its accompanying video an ode to drag queen performers. The lyrics touch on feeling out of place but pushing through to be happy in your own skin, even if it’s different from everybody else. And if that’s not convincing enough, Dragula contestant Louisianna Purchase and drag queen Thanks Jem make a cameo in the video.
“1950” – King Princess
King Princess‘ hit debut single “1950” is an ode to LGBTQIA+ love from decades past, where those relationships had to exist privately in society. The lyrics tell a story about unrequited love and defying social norms in a song that’s both heartbreaking and beautiful.
“If There’s A God” – Jakk Fynn
Jakk Fynn‘s “If There’s A God” is a soul-crushing electro-rock song about homophobia, religion and being true to yourself, no matter what people say. It’s an honest look at the psyche of someone battling issues of gender and sexuality when everyone says who you are is wrong. Fynn explains his feelings in honest lyrics such as, “It was fucked up how you said that/I’m a pervert who likes children/That made me fear getting close to my family.”
“Curious” – Hayley Kiyoko
Hayley Kiyoko‘s discography is full of songs about queer love and relationships, and her electro-pop song “Curious” is a perfect example. The track centers on closeted relationships and the gray area of romantic experiences regarding gender, sexuality and being yourself.
“Straight Boy” – Shamir
“Straight Boy” by Shamir is an in-your-face indie track that’s about queer erasure, whitewashing and toxic masculinity. He doesn’t hold back when singing about straight boys who “ruin [his] life” in this honest and catchy song.
See more: 16 memorable band photos