It’s Valentine’s Day again and I’m guessing you’re tired of listening to the same cis-het people talk about love, right? Take a look at these 10 queer artists expressing love for themselves and their queerness through their music.
1. Antony and the Johnsons
I first came across Antony and the Johnsons as a young queer and it felt so freeing to finally discover someone expressing their queer struggle out loud. The lead singer ANOHNI has the most electric voice and her transness is fully explored in my album recommendation. The yearning of the queer experience heard in this album is invigorating, but the most wonderful part is hearing ANOHNI start to love herself by the end of it.
Album Recommendation: I Am A Bird Now (2005)
2. Janelle Monae
Janelle Monae has become a pop culture icon with her latest album Dirty Computer; the bisexuality of her Prince-esque ‘Make Me Feel’ is so beautiful. Her so-called ‘Emotion Picture’ accompanying her latest album is drawn from her personal experiences as a ‘young, black, queer woman’, focussing on her queer relationships.
Album Recommendation: Dirty Computer (2018)
3. Against Me!
Against Me!’s frontwoman Laura Jane Grace wrote her deeply personal album ‘Transgender Dysphoria Blues’ which deals with gender dysphoria like no other. There is an eclectic mix of trans joy and pain in this album through a more heavy rock sound.
Album Recommendation: Transgender Dysphoria Blues (2014)
4. Sufjan Stevens
Sufjan Stevens worked on the soundtrack for ‘Call Me By Your Name’, and ever since ‘Mystery of Love’ has become synonymous with the gay experience. Sufjan himself has never explicitly declared his sexuality but his songs have a wonderfully ambiguous dichotomy of either being profoundly religious, or deeply gay: I love that there’s no distinction.
Album Recommendation: Carrie and Lowell (2015)
The death of SOPHIE last month shook the queer world, leaving behind a fertile legacy of experimental pop not only as a performer but also producer. Remember ‘Bitch I’m Madonna’ ft Nicki Minaj (2015)? SOPHIE helped write that iconic tune. Her queerness can be exemplified in ‘Immaterial’ where she explores an identity devoid of physical form, ‘with no name and with no type of story’.
Album Recommendation: OIL OF EVERY PEARL’S UN-INSIDES (2018)
6. Jake Edwards
YouTuber Jake Edwards has moved into music after publicly transitioning on his channel. His music is pop-punk self-love and really focuses on the angst and excitement of being a bisexual transmasculine person. Unlike other transmasculine people like Cavetown, Jake sings a lot about his transition in a raw way so if you fancy a bit more of an angsty vibe then check him out.
Album Recommendation: Pink + Blue (2020)
7. Kae Tempest
Kae Tempest is known for their literary work and recently came out as non-binary. They have produced some deep and wonderful political poetry, commenting on the working-class struggles of being from South East London. She explores self-love and loss through ‘Let Them Eat Chaos’ and the whole album is an amazing expression of what it means to be working class.
Album Recommendation: Let Them Eat Chaos (2016)
8. Brittany Howard
Lesbian Brittany Howard’s work as lead singer in Alabama Shakes led to 7 Grammy nominations. Now she is a solo artist and multi-instrumentalist, creating both the backing, instrumental and vocal, and the lead: she is truly a one-woman band of genius.
Album Recommendation: Jaime (2019)
9. Smoothboi Ezra
Smoothboi Ezra is a non-binary Irish artist with only a small handful of tracks out; their indie-pop style is so comforting and the rich texture in their tracks makes for feeling melancholic in the best possible way. Listening to their music is like putting on your queerest clothing and feeling seen.
Track Recommendation: My Own Person (2020)
10. Heather Hills
Heather Hills is one of the first to sign with new record label Trans Trenderz, a project providing free resources and support for black trans musicians. Heather herself is relatively unknown but produces an excellent hip-hop positive vibe in her most recent track ‘Get Dun’; this track is sure to become an absolute club classic.
Track Recommendation: Get Dun (2020)
Image: Anna Kuptsova