Oct. 11 is National Coming Out Day, when LGTBQ+ people are encouraged to celebrate who they are, how far they’ve come and the legacy of LGBTQ+ individuals throughout history. In commemoration of queerness, I’ve constructed a non-exhaustive list of my favorite tunes either by or about LGBTQ+ protagonists.
“Vogue” by Madonna
A classic LGBTQ+ hit song, “Vogue” is an anthem fit for a groovy, disco moment on the dance floor. “Vogue” was inspired by a dance of the same name born in the 1980s out of Harlem, New York’s ballroom culture, later made mainstream by Madonna. Frequently heard in “Pose,” a Netflix LGBTQ+ drama, “Vogue” recognizes the Black and Latinx gay communities of which the song was influenced by.
“Elton’s Song” by Elton John
“Elton’s Song” is a beautiful, anguished ballad narrating a teenage boy’s feelings for another boy with themes of shame and unrequited love. The song followed Elton John’s own coming out as bisexual in October 1976. Elton John told Rolling Stone the song was “very homoerotic.”
“Youth” by Troye Sivan
From Troye Sivan’s debut album, “Youth” is the anthem every LGBTQ+ individual should listen to and dance to on National Coming Out Day this year. This upbeat pop anthem illustrates the characteristically naive, idyllic honeymoon phase feelings of coming out and being in love. Even as the minutes of this song pass you by, the feelings of youth and exhilarating queer experiences persist.
“1950” by King Princess
The pop song “1950” by King Princess pays tribute to an era in U.S. history when LGBTQ+ people couldn’t freely exist as such in public. In the second verse, King Princess sings “I like it when we play 1950/ So bold, make them know that you’re with me,” referring to this decade in U.S. history where LGBTQ+ people were persecuted for defying public expectations and displaying their queerness. King Princess told music discovery platform the Line of Best Fit that “queer love was only able to exist privately for a long time.”
“Forever” (Stripped) by Fletcher
The stripped, bare-bones version of Fletcher’s “Forever” is sensual and fervent as one verse moves to the next with tones of mourning and resolution. Fletcher openly sings about her ex-girlfriend, Shannon Beveridge, being “the one” for forever, but not right now. In honor of coming out, queer love and the mostly inevitable queer heartbreak, “Forever” is the right song to cry to.
Pride celebrations are a year-round reminder of community, resilience and love, and these tunes are even more cause for praise. These songs, and more, on this “Pride 2021” playlist can be accessed on Spotify here.
Rebecca Hobart is a beat reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @rjhobart