Art has always served as one of those sources of inspiration for the LGBTQ community that has not only provided them with an outlet but has also helped queer individuals to make way through the difficult phases of life.
There are some timeless pieces of music that have inspired gay and lesbian people across the world to hold on to their pride and love and accept themselves, before seeking the same from the outside world.
There are songs that inspire you to reach such love and light within yourself for yourself, and also those that unabashedly celebrate breaking down the doors of your closet – to live out your truth to the world.
These aren’t necessarily the most “iconic” songs that have come to be recognized as symbols of the ‘LGBTQ-equality movement’, but songs that we have hand-picked simply for their lyrical message of love and acceptance, that are certain to serve as a form of inspiration for those seeking the same.
Counting down some of the biggest and best classics, inspiring the LGBTQ community, here is our latest top 10:
25 Best Pride Songs and LGBTQ Anthems to Blast During Pride Month and Beyond
Celebrate Pride with these iconic anthems and hit party tunes!
Besides watching the best LGBTQ movies and reading great books by LGBTQ authors, one of the best ways to celebrate Pride is obviously through music — and luckily for you, we’ve rounded up all the best Pride songs for your playlist right here. These LGBTQ anthems and songs by queer artists celebrate love and acceptance of all people, and range from classic hits that’s long been regarded as iconic gay anthems (like „Y.M.C.A.“ or Madonna’s „Vogue“!) to newer, more recent tracks by today’s most powerful voices in music.
What exactly defines a song as a Pride anthem, you ask? There’s everything on our list from empowering songs of freedom and individuality, to heartfelt tracks that celebrate love in any and all kinds of forms. Regardless of which tune you choose to blast, though, each of these 25 songs for Pride captures the spirit and strength of the LGBTQ community — and are great picks for celebrating Pride this month and every month after that. So press play and let your rainbow flag fly — and don’t forget to don your best Pride apparel (and your most colorful rainbow makeup, of course)!
This iconic pop ballad is not just a Grammy-winning track — it’s also a tender, inspiring anthem of love that has taken on a special meaning with the LGBTQ community, which Lauper has long been an advocate for. “I see your true colors / And that’s why I love you,“ she sings. „So don’t be afraid to let them show / Your true colors are beautiful like a rainbow.”
Gaga, who has long been an advocate for LGBTQ rights (and is bisexual herself), proclaims in this catchy anthem: “No matter gay, straight or bi / Lesbian, transgendered life / I’m on the right track, baby / I was born to survive.” The song (and album) later inspired Gaga’s non-profit organization, the Born This Way Foundation
Inspired by New York’s underground gay ball scene during the late 1980’s, Madonna’s „Vogue“ is an iconic classic that brought the vogue-ing tradition into mainstream pop. With its infectious house- and disco-influenced beat, the song celebrates finding escape on the dance floor no matter who you are!
„Girls Like Girls“ was the song that put Hayley Kiyoko on the map as an up-and-coming singer in 2015 — and catapulted her on the way to earning the fan-created moniker of „Lesbian Jesus.“ The song itself is a charming lesbian anthem (not to mention it has an adorable music video!), with lyrics like „Girls like girls / Like boys do / Nothing new.“
Apparently, Chic’s Nile Rodgers was inspired to write this funky 1980 dance hit for Diana Ross after seeing multiple drag queens dressed as the singer at a New York gay club. Since then, the song has become an empowering and celebratory LGBTQ anthem for — you guessed it — coming out!
Featuring a catchy synth-pop beat that’s hard not to dance along to, this hit song from lesbian twin sisters Tegan and Sara Quin is a queer-friendly party tune that belongs on every Pride playlist — especially since the the music video depicts friends and lovers of all genders in a truly feel-good depiction of love.
How could we forget legendary rock band Queen? Featuring Freddie Mercury’s powerful signature vocals, „I Want to Break Free“ is a classic emancipation anthem about yearning for freedom and independence — not to mention the track is accompanied by a truly iconic music video featuring the entire band in drag!
This lustrous, hypnotic 2014 track from Perfume Genius — the project of Seattle singer-songwriter Mike Hadreas — serves as a defiant response to what Hadreas calls „gay panic“ to celebrate being unapologetically yourself, making it an essential Pride anthem from one of today’s most powerful queer voices.
In this catchy 2013 track celebrating bisexuality and polyamory, Panic! At the Disco’s frontman Brendan Urie sings: „Girls love girls and boys / And love is not a choice.“ The singer himself came out as pansexual in 2018, and has long been an advocate for LGBTQ rights.
This one’s a song that truly belongs on any and every playlist — but it’s also a ubiquitous gay anthem that has been adopted by generations of „dancing queens“ within the LGBTQ community. Who could ever resist its infectious disco beat and feel-good tune, after all?
Hailed as a catchy heartbreak anthem for the ages, this dance-pop ballad from Swedish singer Robyn was apparently inspired by the artist’s love of „inherently sad, gay disco anthems.“ It’s hard not to relate to this „sad banger“ of a song that depicts dancing alone in the club while pining after your unrequited love!
This catchy, upbeat track from openly queer and pansexual singer Janelle Monáe captures queer desire — and embraces sexual fluidity — with great funky beats and sensual rhythm reminiscent of Prince (who collaborated with Monáe on the track), making it an absolute must-listen for Pride and beyond.
Shortly before officially coming out as a gay man in 1998, George Michael recorded „Freedom! ’90“, a track that explores his struggles with his personal identity. With lyrics such as “There’s something deep inside of me / There’s someone else I’ve got to be,“ this classic song endures as a powerful ode to breaking free to become your true self.
This hit track from hip hop duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis features Mary Lambert, an openly lesbian artist, as she sings: „And I can’t change / Even if I tried / Even if I wanted to.“ The urgent, reflective song made an especially powerful statement about same-sex relationships during its release in 2012.
„I like my girls just like I like my honey / Sweet, a little selfish,“ Kehlani sings in this soft, sugar-sweet track. The openly queer pop and R&B artist delivers a sultry acoustic track to her female lover in „Honey,“ making it a tender ode to queer love.
For fans of powerful, confessional tracks, this slow ballad from gay singer Sam Smith follows a man coming out of the closet, professing the belief that sexuality should be accepted despite religious teachings: “Don’t you try and tell me that God doesn’t care for us / It is him I love, it is him I love.”
One of the most popular tracks of the 1970’s, Village People’s „Y.M.C.A“ endures as one of the most iconic gay anthems to this day. The song functions as a clever ode to gay cruising culture at athletic centers — not to mention it’s simply irresistible as a dance number!
For „Strangers,“ a catchy synth-pop track off her second album in 2017, Halsey teamed up with Lauren Jauregui of Fifth Harmony (both of whom are openly bisexual) to deliver a love duet between two women. Using same-sex pronouns throughout the entire song, Halsey has called the track a “love song for the LGBT community.“
Three years after „Girls Like Girls,“ Hayley Kiyoko delivered yet another great LGBTQ anthem back in 2018 — this time with „Curious,“ a pop earworm that focuses on a woman struggling with unresolved feelings for an ex-girlfriend, who’s now in a new relationship with a man. Even just the lyrics of „I’m just curious / Is it serious?“ alone is seriously catchy!
This iconic track from the famous drag queen pays tribute to „sashaying“ down the runway, inspiring generations within the LGBTQ community to embrace their fierceness. Featuring an uptempo beat — and RuPaul’s signature phrase „You better work!“ — it’s easy to understand why the song has become such a celebrated gay anthem.
Country artist Kacey Musgraves puts forth a worthwhile mantra for Pride in this empowering song: „Say what you feel, love who you love / Cause you just get so many trips ‚round the sun.“ It’s a track that celebrates remaining true to yourself, making it a resonating pick for the LGBTQ community.
Released just last year, Taylor Swift’s fun, unapologetically bold pop track saw the pop star become a more outspoken advocate for LGBTQ rights, with lyrics such as „Why are you mad / When you could be GLAAD?“ The music video itself is basically just one big Pride fest full of LGBTQ celebrities!
This one from the Scissor Sisters is perhaps the queer party tune for the ages. With a nod to popular lexicon of the LGBTQ community that refers to a gathering of friends for the purpose of gossiping, „Let’s Have A Kiki“ honors an American gay social tradition (complete with a truly campy instructional dance music video
This pop hit dominated charts everywhere back in 2010, but it’s also a song that’s long resonated with the LGBTQ community as an bold empowerment anthem. „Baby, you’re a firework / Come on, let your colors burst“ can definitely be interpreted as a celebration of Pride and all its rainbow colors!
Here’s another great self-empowerment pop anthem we’re blasting for Pride and everyday — especially since Sara Bareilles apparently wrote the song for a friend struggling to come out of the closet! The upbeat track celebrates courage in all forms, encouraging the listener to „Say what you wanna say / And let the words fall out / Honestly I wanna see you be brave.“
Most Iconic Gay Anthems – Top 10 of All Time
There have been songs which have become part of the popular culture. They have become sources of inspirations and expressions for LGBT people. So, let’s take a look into 10 Of The Most Iconic Gay Anthems of All Time.
The 50 best gay songs to celebrate World Pride
Get ready to celebrate with these 50 gay songs and anthems to stir the heart and move the hips. Happy Pride, everyone!
The arrival of June means another Gay Pride month! What better way to celebrate than to crank up a playlist of the best gay songs? Recent years have seen nearly 40,000 people taking to the streets for the Gay Pride march in NYC, so you can expect the weekend’s best parties to be just as raucous. There will be all the classics—yup, „Y.M.C.A.”—as well as newer cuts, all about fighting back and being yourself. This playlist represents all those different eras and genres—from the best techno songs to indie diddies from the best ’90s bands. So hit play, and let your rainbow flag fly.
Top LGBTQ Anthems Part 2: The ’80s and ’90s
The late great Whitney Houston is so legendary that we had to use two of her songs in our list, as both are LGBTQ anthems. If you’ve ever witnessed either of these played in a gay club, you’d definitely agree when you hear the entire place go crazy and sing along with every word. Not only are both songs catchy as hell, but just try and resist getting on the dance floor when these come on the speaker. “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” really struck a cord with the LGBTQ community during the peak of the AIDS epidemic, when many felt isolated and alone. Also, the gender neutrality of the song made that “somebody” relatable to everybody, no matter who you wanted to dance with. And “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay” is a powerful break-up anthem in the vein of “I Will Survive” or “Believe,” which always resonates strongly with our community. Although the original slow album version is great, it was the Thunderpuss remix that really made the song an LGBTQ anthem. The part where the song crescendos and Ms. Houston belts, “It turns out, you were making a fool of me, ohhhh” gives us all the drama we want from our diva. Whitney Houston is a true LGBTQ icon, and most probably even a member of the community herself. If only she lived in a different time.
Top 10 LGBT Anthems Of All Time!
From club bangers to power ballads, there are countless tracks throughout history that would qualify as an anthem for the LGBTQ+ community.
Not everybody is going to agree with this list. But here is our pick of the top 10 greatest LGBT anthems of all time!
Are These the Best Gay Anthems Ever?
Queer fans have loved pop anthems since “Over the Rainbow” and likely before. Long before Lady Gaga sang “Born This Way” and MacLemore’s “One Love,” these tracks put gays in their happy place.
We’re all-inclusive here at Metrosource, so we think back to the Stonewall era when it’s widely circulated that when the riots broke out there in 1969, it was the Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction” that was on the jukebox. Not long after that, dame diva Diana Ross revisited a Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell hit and released a gayer-than-thou over the top version of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” which she recently revisited at the AMA Awards, neglecting to sing any of the high parts that made it uniquely hers.
Into the ’70s, Rod Stewart put out a sad lament on the gay-bashing death of a friend in New York City called “The Killing of Georgie,” while David Bowie was flirting with both Marc (“Bang A Gong”) Bolan and androgyny throughout his glam period. In 1974, what’s arguably Elton John’ best album, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road contained “All the Young Girls Love Alice,” a raucous barnburner cut from the same cloth as another track on the record some may remember: “Saturday Night’s All Right for Fighting.” Bernie Taupin’s lyrics depict a young lesbian in her sexual prime who’s quite in demand — until she reaches an untimely end. More than a dozen years later, Elton would finally come out of the closet, but not until the end of a brief marriage.
As the disco era was picking up steam, there were all kinds of double-entendre tunes making the charts, none of them quite as cute, melodic or tongue-in-cheek as those of the Village People. While wedding reception guests are often still required to spell out “YMCA,” let us not forget that the Peeps gave us “Macho Man,” “In the Navy” and the entire opening side to their debut album with a pean to the gay meccas of San Francisco and Hollywood in a 15-minute-plus medley. “I Will Survive” still hangs around, but many gays turned their noses up it at the time in the belief that it painted them too much as victims. Of course, there was no turning away from Sylvester, who made it clear that he liked drag, loved men, and could compete with the greatest divas on the scene.
By the ’80s it was time for disco to transition into “dance music,” as racism and homophobia effectively killed anything with a disco label attached. But it didn’t stop dance tracks like the Weather Girls’ “It’s Raining Men” to rise to the top of the charts and bring gays and straights alike onto the dance floor. There was even a brief flirtation between new wavers and gay culture with a clever ditty by Josie Cotton (it was turned down by the Go-Go’s) called “Johnny, Are You Queer?” It’s catchy, corny and belongs on your playlist right between “Jessie’s Girl” and . . . well, anything by Culture Club.
Prince flirted a lot with sexuality throughout the era, although nothing resonated quite as well as “Controversy,” in which the Purple One asked the audience to look past his bikini briefs and leg warmers: “Am I black or white,” he sang pointedly, “am I straight or gay?”
And of course, no survey of gay-power tracks could leave out bands like England’s Tom Robinson Band (“Glad to Be Gay”) or Bronksi Beat (“Smalltown Boy” and “Tell Me Why” are sublime and powerful pitches for equality) and the band their lead singer left to form, The Communards, who killed it with a synth-heavy cover of “Never Can Say Goodbye.” Following in their footsteps? Erasure, who borrowed both the electronics and the high tenor of those bands for a string of late ’80s hits, including “A Little Respect,” “Chains of Love” and later, “Always.”
By the early ’90s, the MTV video era was all but over, and making references to same-sex attraction was no longer as otherworldly as it once had been. Yes, Katy Perry could still raise an eyebrow when she admitted she kissed a girl and liked it, and Madonna and Britney could titillate an audience by tongue-wrestling on live TV. But the ceiling had been shattered: not by any one song, but by generations of banging on the boundaries demanding our own inclusion.
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Top LGBTQ Anthems Part 3: The 2000s
Back in June, Taylor Swift released her single, “You Need to Calm Down,” which served as her take on making an LGBTQ anthem for 2019. While some have looked on it with a critical eye, we’ve decided to celebrate it, along with all the gay anthems that came before it. Many are by LGBTQ artists; others have been adopted by the LGBTQ community from straight, cisgender artists whose song was either inspired by our community or spoke to us at a time when we really needed it. We’ve broken it down into three lists: pre-1980, the ’80s and ’90s, and the 2000s. In honor of the end of this decade, below we have our top 12 list of LGBTQ anthems from the 2000s and 2010s:
The 50 Best Gay Anthems Of All Time
How does a song become a gay anthem? Like the LGBTQ community, our soundtrack is vast and diverse. There are disco classics featuring our favorite, big-voiced divas. There are the introspective slow jams that mirror our struggles with self-acceptance and social rejection. There are viral sensations that caught our attention, and underground tracks that some of us have yet to discover. While it’s impossible to define exactly what makes a song „gay,“ this list definitely isn’t straight.
To keep this countdown diverse, artists were only allowed one song on this list. Don’t forget to follow our playlist on Spotify below. And for more stories about the LGBTQ community and our fiercest allies, follow Billboard Pride on Twitter and Instagram.
40. „People Like Us,“ Kelly Clarkson, 2012
Expect Clarkson’s catalog to be on heavy rotation at any lesbian karaoke night. This song, with lyrics like “this is the life that we choose” and “come out, come out if you dare,” added sparks to (false) rumors that Clarkson could be gay. Though straight — and now married — Clarkson accepted the rumors as a compliment.
38. „Firework,“ Katy Perry, 2010
When you look at her one-two punch of her femme-bashing „Ur So Gay“ and her exhibitionist faux-lesbian „I Kissed A Girl,“ in a post-Gaga era, this song felt more opportunistic than authentic. But Perry has seemingly become more progressive and it would be hard to find a pride parade not playing this booming (pun intended) anthem.
35. „We Are Family,“ Sister Sledge, 1979
This song plays during the famous scene in The Birdcage where Gene Hackman dons drag to avoid being noticed by the paparazzi. While the four members of Sister Sledge are actual sisters, the song took on a deeper meaning with the gay community being one big family.
30. „Raise You Up/Just Be,“ ‚Kinky Boots,‘ 2012
The drag-centric musical took home six Tonys, including best musical; best score (with music and lyrics by gay icon Cyndi Lauper); and outstanding actor in a musical, for out-and-proud Billy Porter’s comeback performance as Lola, a drag queen.
27. „Take Me I’m Yours,“ Jobriath, 1973
Self-described „rock’s truest fairy,“ Jobriath was the first openly gay musician to be signed to a major label. For his television debut on The Midnight Special, the glam rocker initially planned to play this S&M-themed jam, but had to switch tunes after a producer objected.
24. „Got To Be Real,“ Cheryl Lynn, 1978
Not only was this disco classic featured heavily in Paris Is Burning, but it made an appearance in the first season of Will & Grace as well. Will (Eric McCormack) is singing the song in the mirror while shaving, to which Grace (Debra Messing) quips, „We’re just like fifty men and a mirrored ball away from being a gay disco.“
23. „A Little Respect,“ Erasure, 1988
In what appeared to be a response to the British government’s damning Section 28 act (which criminalized the promotion of homosexuality, resulting in the closing of lesbian, gay and bisexual support groups across British schools and colleges), the song questions “What religion or reason could drive a man to forsake his lover?”
15. „Over The Rainbow,“ Judy Garland, 1939
Dating back to at least World War II — when homosexual acts were illegal — the term „friend of Dorothy“ was underground slang for a gay man. While investigating homosexuality in Chicago, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service discovered that gay men used this term to refer to themselves. They started a massive witch-hunt for the elusive “Dorothy” in hopes that she would reveal names of gay service members.
13. „You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real),“ Sylvester, 1978
The uber-fabulous Sylvester was so beloved by the San Francisco gay community that they gave him a standing ovation at the 1988 Castro Street Fair that lasted more than 10 minutes. Too ill to attend the event, he looked out at his fans from a wheelchair on his apartment balcony. He planned his own funeral, insisting that he be buried in an embroidered red kimono and matching red lipstick.
8. „Don’t Leave Me This Way,“ Thelma Houston, 1976
This Motown Hot 100 No. 1 hit was appropriated by the gay community as an anthem for friends lost to the AIDS epidemic. As part of a commissioned „public space statement,“ artist Nayland Blake juxtaposed the title of the song against an image of a bouquet of flowers with their tangled roots showing.
6. „Constant Craving,“ k.d. lang, 1992
This track garnered three Grammy Award nominations for Lang, including song of the year and record of the year. She walked away with the award for best female pop vocal performance. The song maintained its place in lesbian culture when it was covered on Glee by Naya Rivera, Idina Menzel and Chris Colfer in the episode where Rivera’s character, Santana, came out to her parents.
4. „True Colors,“ Cyndi Lauper, 1986
Inspired by her lesbian sister, Lauper has been an advocate throughout her career. Years after the uplifting ballad hit No. 1 on the Hot 100, Lauper co-founded the True Colors Fund, a nonprofit dedicated to ending homelessness for LGBT youth.
3. „I Will Survive,“ Gloria Gaynor, 1978
In 2014, Gaynor caught heat from the gay community when she delayed a gig at The Abbey in West Hollywood. Citing her religious beliefs, she reportedly insisted that managers remove all the go-go dancers from the room. Controversy aside, this song’s staying power is undeniable: RuPaul sent two queens packing on the same episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race for not doing justice to a lip sync of the gay staple.
1. „I’m Coming Out,“ Diana Ross, 1980
Even at its conception, this song was a gay anthem: After seeing three drag queens impersonate Ross at a New York discotheque, Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards were inspired to write something for her gay fandom. Ross almost got cold feet releasing it but Rodgers convinced her to go with it. She took his advice and landed her sixth Hot 100 top 10 hit as a solo artist.
It’s hard to define what makes an LGBT+ anthem, but there are songs that become ingrained in queer culture.
Some concrete themselves because of a film they were in, some because of the artist who sung it. Some songs become gay anthems because of their message. We’ve teamed up with Deezer to showcase our pick of the top 40 gay anthems.
2) It’s Raining Men, The Weather Girls, 1982
This is an ultra-camp classic that stood the test of time. So loved by the gay community that in 2014, when a UKIP councillor suggest that the unusual flooding in the UK at the time was caused by same-sex marriage, the song was released again and reached number 21 in the UK charts. Geri Halliwell also released a version, but you can’t beat the original, which stars the vocals of Martha Wash and Izora Armstead.
4) Bag It Up, Geri Halliwell, 2000
When the Spice Girls split there was only ever going to be one true gay icon to emerge from the famous fivesome, and it was always going to be Geri Halliwell (now Horner). She was the first to release solo material and racked up numerous hits including this mega camp ditty. The promo for ‘Bag It Up’ included Geri literally birthing herself live on stage between the split legs of a giant woman, surrounded by hot, pink-haired dancers in hot pants. It was the 2000 BRIT Music Awards – and Geri the gay icon had arrived.
5) Sissy That Walk, RuPaul, 2013
In 2009 the drag world had become, some might say, passe. Gay venues across the UK, which had been drag’s home, were in decline and closing down at a phenomenal rate. In London over 100 gay bars had closed since the year 2000. Then a somewhat forgotten drag queen star of the late 80s and early 90s launched a show that would change drag and its place in mainstream society. From that, RuPaul rose like a glittery phoenix and began releasing music. ‘Sissy That Walk’ came from her most Born Naked. The lyrics empower some of the most marginalised in our community.
6) Express Yourself, Madonna, 1989
It’s hard to find which track defines the epicness of Madonna’s credentials as a gay icon, but perhaps ‘Express Yourself’ comes somewhere close to the zenith. Its message of self-empowerment is as relevant today as it was back in 1989 when it was released.
8) Dancing Queen, ABBA, 1976
What gay anthem list is complete without an ABBA track? There are so many camp classics in the ABBA catalogue, but ‘Dancing Queen’ has many gay connotations from dancing drag queens to gay men who refer to themselves as queens. We think everyone should feel like royalty on the dance floor.
10) Stronger, Kelly Clarkson 2007
Kelly Clarkson became a bit of a lesbian icon after the release of her second album. The single ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’ is the ultimate song from this album, but her more recent output includes this uplifting song about strength.
12) Make Me Feel, Janelle Monae, 2018
Janelle Monae came out in 2018 as a queer woman and followed that news with this somewhat Prince-inspired track. It’s sometimes hard to induct a new track into the gay anthem catalogue, but in years to come this song’s meaning and video imagery will go down as iconic.
13) Outside, George Michael, 1998
This was the song in which George Michael publicly spoke out about his sexuality. It was the summer of 1998, and although his previous album, Older, eluded to being gay and fast love, it was after his very public arrest in an LA public toilet that GM made his sexuality known, loud and proud.
18) Finally, Cece Peniston, 1992
You can thank The Adventures of Priscilla Queen Of The Desert for making this song an undeniable gay hit – and one that countless drag queens around the world have mimed to ever since 1994. It wasn’t even a hit when it was first released, managing to just creep into the top 30 in the UK. However, a re-release in 1992 meant that it reached a rather respectable Number 2.
19) Queer As Folk Theme, 2000
In 1999 a TV programme called Queer As Folk shocked and delighted the British public – but not in equal measure. These were the years where we were coming out of the AIDS crisis and into an era where sexual diversity and LGBT+ rights were being celebrated. A new dawn of equality was in the air at the turn of century. The repeal of Section 28 was just a few years away and Civil Partnerships were just around the corner. However, the rimming scene in the first episode caused, as you would guess, reactionary headlines from the right-wing and conservative newspapers.
20) All For You, Janet Jackson, 2001
“Nice Package alright, guess I’m gonna have to ride it tonight”. With lyrics like these how could Janet Jackson’s 2001 hit ‘All For You’ not be an anthem. In the US it was a number 1. Janet Jackson has since the 90s been seen as a gay icon. Her sexualised music and her long-term support of the LGBT community using her fame and even her music to speak out against homophobia have made her an LGBT+ favourite.
23) Doin’ It – Nathan’s Theme, Queer As Folk, 2000
“I’m doin’ it, I’m really doin’ it” was one of the standout quotes from Queer As Folk as a young Nathan loses his virginity with Stuart. He boasts it loudly and proudly that he is having unapologetic gay sex. Bravo.
24) Stronger, Britney Spears, 2000
Britney’s hit ‘Stronger’ is yet another song about winning against the odds and realising how much strength you have in you. Britney’s place as a gay icon has long established. At the 29th GLAAD awards, she was awarded the Vanguard Award.
25) Girls, Rita Ora, Cardi B, Bebe Rexha, Charli XCX, 2018
Despite picking up some heat from social media, ‘Girls’ explores female sexuality and bisexuality and that doesn’t happen all too much in music. Rita Ora did apologise for any offence caused, but many in the LGBT+ community voiced that she didn’t need to make an apology.
28) We Are Family, Sister Sledge, 1979
Like Priscilla, The Birdcage forever cemented this Sister Sledge classic. You never be able to forget Gene Hackman lipsyncing to the track in full drag. Speaking to THEGAYUK about the song’s icon status, Kim Sledge said, “Well I’ll tell you, that anyone and everyone who embraced that song makes us feel amazing and grateful. It is a song of love and it’s a song that embraces so we’re ecstatic about it.”
30) Same Love, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis & Mary Lambert, 2012
In the UK, ‘Same Love’ reached number 6. It was released during the fight for the right for gays and lesbians to marry in Washington State in 2012, before same-sex marriage became legal in every state in the US.
31) Silent Whispers, Jake Hook, 2007
This song is from a relatively unknown, but openly gay singer-songwriter, Jake Hook, (although he more famously wrote for other artists) the song is a simple love song between two men, with a subtle hint within the lyrics, “When X&Y collide” and talks about a love which is difficult to be open about in public. It came from an EP which was named SXY from which he launched a sexual health campaign for gay and bisexual men in 2007.
33) Beautiful, Christina Aguilera 2002
It was the video that accompanied this song which deserves a special mention. In fact Christina Aguilera won a GLAAD award for the song. It had a really positive representation of a gay couple and a transgender person, which was ahead of its time in 2002.
38) I Kissed A Girl, Katy Perry, 2008
Although some have blasted Katy Perry for appropriating gay culture in this song for the purposes of gaining attention and sales. In 2018 Perry expressed regret about the lyrics saying, that she would edit them now. However, again, like Rita Ora’s ‘Girls’ this song has a nod to bisexuality and experimenting with some of the same-sex – and liking it. It’s all about opening minds y’all.
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25 Gay Anthems We Need More Than Ever
It’s more important than ever to remember the songs that have seen the LGBTQ community through heartaches past — from Stonewall to the AIDS crisis, from discrimination to marriage equality.
These are songs of freedom and individuality, of overcoming heartbreak, defying the status quo, and staying true to yourself. And some of them are just kick-ass party tunes. Here are 25 anthems that have captured the spirit, strength, and imagination of the LGBT community — and have provided the soundtrack to many of our lives. Enjoy these anytime but especially this busy Pride weekend.
25. Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen (1978)
The iconic ‘70s rock band led by gay superstar Freddie Mercury may be forever remembered for Bohemian Rhapsody, but this sexy, propulsive tune — that gleefully swaps male and female pronouns — perfectly captures the spirit of Pride.
6. YMCA – Village People (1978)
The greatest and gayest novelty act of all time produced nothing but tongue-in-cheek gay anthems. But the video of this song, that’s been played for decades at bar mitzvahs, was filmed at New York’s most notorious cruising grounds — making its gay subtext perfectly clear.
1. I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor (1978)
The ultimate gay anthem to burst out of the disco ‘70s is a song of defiance, independence, and survival that speaks to anyone who refuses to be held down. And telling off an ex? It works for that too.
Which of these LGBT anthems best captures what you’re feeling right now? And which of your favorites would you add to this list? Share them with us in the comments below.
Forever Proud: Luke Evans
Fans may recognize Luke Evans as the mighty Apollo from Clash of the Titans or the virile Zeus from Immortals. Given this mythical cinematic lineage, the openly gay actor’s coming out must have been epic, right? We’re picturing a closet door exploding into a hurricane of splinters as his burly frame muscles its way into …
What makes a song a gay anthem?
Your mind probably immediately goes to the classics. „I Will Survive“ by Gloria Gaynor or „I’m Coming Out“ by Diana Ross are still played in gay clubs around the world. Probably remixed over a trap beat, but nevertheless, they are still celebrated in our community. Fast forward 20 years and we got songs like „Believe“ by Cher or „Beautiful“ by Christina Aguilera to keep us inspired.
Anthems usually have a few defining qualities. Previously, pop divas have been ubiquitous with gay anthems, but for the first time this decade, we’re finally seeing a push of actual LGBTQ artists in mainstream media. Gay anthems have evolved, though they still revolved around themes like celebrating your sexuality, unrequited love, overcoming hardship, and ultimately invoking a sense of community.
The 2010s are coming to an end, and music is gayer than it’s ever been. So what are today’s great anthems?
To define a gay anthem (and a great one at that), we took notice of a song’s mainstream popularity, but also dissected each track’s messaging, quality, queer factor, the icon or ally status of the artist, if the gays scream when the track comes on, and how much of a pop culture moment the track was. There might be some songs you don’t know at the top of the list that nabbed that spot because the track’s weight as an anthem was more powerful than streaming numbers. There are bubbly pop songs about falling in love and heartbreak, as well as moody R&B and hip-hop songs that launched movements.
50. ‚You Need To Calm Down‘ – Taylor Swift
The country-pop superstar came out as a vocal gay ally in this synthy kiss-off to bullies and internet trolls. The video features a jam-packed cast of queer celebs and pushed her fans to support the Equality Act, a bill hoping to reduce discrimination against LGBTQ people in the U.S. „Shade never made anybody less gay“ indeed, Miss Swift!
44. ‚Truth Hurts‘ – Lizzo
The world might have just caught on to Lizzo and her #1 single ‚Truth Hurts,‘ but gay men have been rabid fans of the outspoken LGBTQ ally way back since her drunken club banger „Phone.“ Taste? We have it! And well be singing this self-love anthem in our graves!
43. ‚Pussy Is God‘ – King Princess
LGBTQ people—and especially queer women—have been absolutely smitten by King Princess and her acoustic pop soliloquies to female lovers. „1950“ might be her biggest hit, but „Pussy Is God“ can’t be described as anything other than a gay anthem.
41. ‚King‘ – Years & Years
This British pop group, led by openly gay frontman Olly Alexander, has blessed us with bop after bop over the years, but „King“ seems to have resonated the most with fans around the world. Even Nick Jonas covered this bouncy track about escaping the control of a destructive lover.
40. ‚Let It Go‘ – Idina Menzel
From Disney’s icy animated film Frozen, this musical theater track about finding the strength to let yourself be exactly who you are instantly connected to queer people everywhere. I’ve even heard some remixes played in gay bars and as you can imagine, everyone absolutely lost their minds trying to hit those high notes.
37. ‚Tuesday‘ – Ilovemakonnen, Drake
This hip-hop collab dominated the charts and clubs in 2014, and while ILOVEMAKONNEN came out as gay after this song’s popularity peaked, whose else’s „clubs are going up on a Tuesday?“ Straight people? I think not.
33. ‚Take Me To Church‘ – Hozier
This Irish folk singer took the music industry by surprise with the success of this soulful ode to worshiping in the bedroom. Comparing a climax to a religious shrine, Hozier’s borderline-blasphemous track on the effortless sin of sex pissed off people around the world. The outspoken LGBTQ ally took it a step further with the music video, where he depicts two gay men being ripped apart by homophobic violence in Russia. It brought international attention to the issue and launched an international conversation about LGBTQ rights.
31. ‚Stay With Me‘ – Sam Smith
The pop-soul crooner—who now identifies as nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns—smashed on the scene with their first solo hit „Stay With Me.“ Gay men effortlessly identified with Smith’s loneliness after the departure of a one-night stand, and Smith used this music video to initially open up about their sexuality—a big deal for 2014.
29. ‚Let’s Have A Kiki‘ – Scissor Sisters
This instructional dance track with that driving bass and hilarious gay lingo went from the gay clubs to the mainstream when it was sung by Sarah Jessica Parker on Glee. What gay can resist singing along to „Let’s have a kiki/I wanna have a kiki/Lock the doors tight“?
28. ‚Disco Tits‘ – Tove Lo
Tove Lo was already an openly bisexual superstar with the success of her first few singles „Habits (Stay High)“ and „Talking Body,“ but this is the track that made her a gay icon. It’s one of a handful of songs on this list that gay men and women can agree on that does, 100% absolutely, slap. Disco tits unite us all!
26. ‚Super Bass‘ – Nicki Minaj
The gays love a pop star in a colorful wig and Nicki Minaj was FEEDING US in the early 2010s with catchy bubblegum choruses, iconic lyrics, and look after look after look. Find a gay nearest you and dare him not to scream when this song comes on.
25. ‚Do My Thang‘ – Miley Cyrus
The Bangerz era of Miley’s career is one of her most beloved by queer people and while „Do My Thang“ wasn’t a single—or even close to the popularity of songs like „Wrecking Ball“ or „We Can’t Stop“—this b-side track somehow seeped into the brains of gays around the country.
24. ‚Brave‘ – Sara Bareilles
Bareilles wrote this empowering anthem for a friend who was struggling to come out of the closet and dedicated it to her LGBTQ fans at her concerts. „There’s so much honor and integrity and beauty in being able to be who you are,“ said the singer-songwriter at the time. „It’s important to be brave because by doing that you also give others permission to do the same.“
23. ‚Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)‘ – Kelly Clarkson
„What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger/Stand a little taller/Doesn’t mean I’m lonely when I’m alone.“ Almost everything Clarkson sings becomes an anthem (she just has that voice and star power) but gays really latched onto this pump-up track’s empowering message.
22. ‚Correct‘ – MNEK
Black gay boy joy shines in this pop track, where MNEK lets all the haters now that you need to come correct if you’re going to step up to him. Messages of self-love and feeling yourself are even more powerful coming from black and brown people and the track has inspired many to stand tall in our joy. „The song is saying that to anyone–including myself–that if you’ve earned what you’ve done,“ said MNEK. „No-one should take that away from you, no-one should make you feel bad about it, and girl, own it!“
20. ‚Boys‘ – Charli XCX
Featuring some of our favorite male celebs bathed in pink, Charli XCX gave the gays everything they wanted with this simple pop track about daydreaming over cute boys. Who can forget that hilarious viral remix where someone replaced that video game jingle with the Gridr alert tone? Not I.
18. ‚Into You‘ – Ariana Grande
This list wouldn’t be complete with some Ariana, one of the defining pop divas of the 2010s and outspoken LGBTQ ally. This lustful and longing single from the Dangerous Woman era became an anthem overnight and still illicits gay screams every time it’s played. „Oh baby, look what you started/The temperature’s rising in here/Is this gonna happen?/Been waiting and waiting for you to make a move/Before I make a move.“ The anticipation in the air isn’t the only thing that’s thick, and considering most gays hate making the first move, there has never been a lyric more relatable.
17. ‚Heart to Break‘ – Kim Petras
Falling for the wrong person just because they give you butterflies is an uncomfortable reality for many queer people, and Petras serves us that self-destructive tendency on a candy-coated platter. The openly trans pop star has a loyal following, many of them LGBTQ people around the world.
16. ‚Girls Like Girls‘ – Hayley Kiyoko
The gays have declared Kiyoko our very own Lesbian Jesus, and so it is written. The pop star first made waves with „Girls Like Girls,“ a wistful ode to young love and not holding back your feelings. She has since dropped banger after banger, all of which could be on this list if we didn’t try to limit it to one anthem per artist. Watch her „What I Need“ video and tell me it doesn’t make you feel something.
15. ‚Nails, Hair, Hips, Heels‘ – Todrick Hall
Beyoncé’s „Get Me Bodied“ didn’t qualify for this list because it wasn’t released in this decade, so here’s the next best thing! The YouTube star’s synthy dance banger (which I like to call „The gay Cha-Cha Slide“) is undeniably an anthem that’ll be circulating in gay clubs around the world along with the music video which can’t be described as anything less than iconic. The talent jumped out!
13. ‚Run Away With Me‘ – Carly Rae Jepsen
Need I say more? Jepsen scored a worldwide smash hit with „Call Me Maybe“ but it was this track that broke the internet. Nearly all queer people have wanted to run away with that special lover, that „sinner in secret,“ and turn the world to gold. And that damn saxophone intro is cemented as one of the gayest memes of the decade.
12. ‚Formation‘ – Beyoncé
One of the world’s biggest and longest-running superstars stopped the world with this 2016 black-power anthem, then she shook the LGBTQ community when she used it’s lyrics to declare „Gay rights“ at the GLAAAD Media Awards. „Who you make love to and take that ass to Red Lobster is your human right,“ she said. Combined with that Big Freedia feature and how even white people get up to dance when that trap intro starts, it’s clear that Bey does indeed, slay.
9. ‚I Know A Place‘ – MUNA
LGBTQ+ have long found sanctuary in queer bars, clubs, and spaces where we don’t have to hide who we are and can feel free to be ourselves. 2016’s Pulse shooting rattled the community and shattered that veil of safety we thought we had in these spaces, especially when we have so few already. This beautiful and joyful MUNA track reminds us of the sanctuary we can find, where we can dance our troubles away with people who love and live like us. „We started writing it in 2015 after the Supreme Court decision to legalize gay marriage, and it was a really celebratory song, but we also knew that there were a lot of people in our community who still don’t feel safe,“ they told iHeartRadio. „So we wrote it also as a message of safety and nonviolence. And then it took on a new meaning after the Orlando shooting.“
8. ‚We Found Love‘ – Rihanna
Anyone else have a very distinct memory from when marriage equality passed and gays in bars across the U.S. could be heard screaming „WE FOUND LOVE IN A HOPELESS PLACE“ at the top of their lungs? Wow, what a moment.
7. ‚Same Love‘ – Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, Mary Lambert
While LGBTQ+ people have been fighting for our rights for decades, it wasn’t until this song by a straight white male came along that many people sat up and listened, especially in the hip-hop community. Macklemore released the powerful track at the height of his career and it jump-started a national conversation about same-gender relationships that many believe significantly impacted the fight for gay marriage, which was signed into law just two years later. The lyrics might be a bit cheesy now and we still have a long way to go in terms of LGBTQ+ rights, but ‚Same Love’s‘ impact was felt by everyone at the time, and the tender music video centering a gay couple can still pull some tears out of you.
4. ‚Raise Your Glass‘ – P!nk
If you ask most people to pick a gay anthem from the 2010s, this P!nk classic will probably be one of the first to come to mind. All you have to do is read the lyrics to see why LGBTQ+ related to it so much, and still feel so powerful when it comes on. „Raise your glass if you are wrong/In all the right ways/All my underdogs/We will never be never be, anything but loud/And nitty gritty, dirty little freaks.“
3. ‚Make Me Feel‘ – Janelle Monae
Sexually liberated and breathtakingly queer, Monae took the LGBTQ+ community by storm with a proud coming out as pansexual and her groundbreaking visual album Dirty Computer. Tracks like „Pynk“ were instantly inducted into the gay hall of fame (mostly for those labia pants), while „Make Me Feel“ goes us the green light desire anyone we want to. Love has no gender and Monae sings it best; „that’s just the way you make me feel.“
2. ‚Dancing On My Own‘ – Robyn
„I’m in the corner, watching you kiss her/woah/I’m right over here, why can’t you see me/woah.“ Unrequited love. That driving beat. Crying in the club. This iconic Robyn track checks every single gay anthem box and nearly a decade after its release, gays everywhere still scream their way to the dance floor to get a chance to live that Robyn fantasy.
1. ‚Born This Way‘ – Lady Gaga
„No matter gay, straight, or bi/Lesbian, transgendered life/I’m on the right track baby, I was born to survive.“ There are very few lines as iconically queer as that one. Lady Gaga is undeniably one of the defining queer voices of the decade and at the height of her career, Mother Monster made a bold declaration of love and acceptance for the LGBTQ+ community with the „Born This Way.“ While the nature vs nurture science behind being born gay might not quite hold up eight years later, Gaga let us know that every single one of us is perfect to the way we are, no matter what the world says. Don’t be a drag, just be a queen, little monsters.
25 New LGBTQ Anthems
LGBTQ musicians are making mainstream moves. Halsey’s “Bad At Love,” which features bisexual lyricism, found its way to the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100. Troye Sivan gyrated his way through a Saturday Night Live performance. Kehlani has collaborated with everyone from Cardi B to Charlie Puth and her queer soul sister Hayley Kiyoko. And Big Freedia has been sampled on tracks by megastars Drake and Beyoncé.
While our list of the 50 best LGBTQ anthems spans decades, we curated this sister list that more properly reflects the community in 2018. Just in time for Pride Month, here are 25 songs — all released in the past three years — that deserve your attention.
15) Take Me To Church – Hozier
Irish singer and songwriter Hozier’s hard-hitting song talks about the godliness of love and contrasts the message with it’s music video, which features a gay couple being violently attacked and harassed by a group of religious fanatics and cult followers. Powerful and moving.
14) A Love That Will Never Grow Old – Emmylou Harris
“Who cares where we go on this rugged old road, in a world that may say that we’re wrong?” – this incredibly moving tune by country singer Emmylou Harris, as featured on the ultimate gay epic love story – Brokeback Mountain, is about loving someone for life against all odds, including the words of naysayers. A tearjerker, yet inspirational enough to keep your faith alive in letting you follow your heart.
10) Make Your Own Kind Of Music – Mama Cass
This [Mama] Cass Elliot song was recorded by the singer in 1969 for her album ‘Bubblegum, Lemonade, and… Something for Mama’, and it’s generic yet uplifting message about singing your own tunes, and dancing to your own songs is an inspiring, emotional message that has resonated with the LGBTQ community – especially since the song was featured in a few memorable sequences of the 1996-released British gay romance – Beautiful Thing. This would just make you feel good about you being you.
9) Over The Rainbow – Judy Garland
Garland’s decades’ old classic has resonated with several generations of gay people. It’s presence in America’s fight towards equality, starting from the stone-wall riots, has made it an iconic staple in the movement. And it’s everlasting message of hope for a better, more colorful and happy-gay world, continues to make individuals feel, that they’re not alone.
6) I Am What I Am – Gloria Gaynor
Gaynor had another gay-anthem entitled ‘I Will Survive’, that has transported itself to the top of LGBT-culture across generations, but lyrically – I Am What I Am, delivers the message more strongly. Her spoken intro in the beginning of the song is the best motivational message you can expect in a Pop song.
5) I’m Coming Out – Diana Ross
The queen of gays through 70’s and 80’s, alongside Donna Summer and Gloria Gaynor, gave this shoutout to all those attempting to break out of their closets. An out-and-out celebration of living your truth openly, and living the hell out of it.
4) Born This Way – Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga – who’s been an icon for the new generation of gay and lesbian community garnered this #1, preaching the world that no matter how they feel or who they love, there is nothing wrong with it. The ‘in-your-face’ lyrics in the bridge are the best part about it –
‘No matter gay, straight or bi,lesbian transgendered life,I’m on the right track, baby,I was born to surive.’
2) Greatest Love Of All – Whitney Houston
One of Whitney Houston’s most iconic songs, isn’t specifically targeted to the LGBTQ community, but it talks about self-acceptance and promotes it as the greatest form of loving, that there is. And hence it makes for one of the most inspiring and uplifting messages about, living your truth. And her passionate delivery of the crucial message, turns this into an epiphany-causing, life-saving experience, as it has been for so many.
1) Same Love – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (ft. Mary Lambert)
When so many mainstream male rappers sold-out by using derogatory commentary on gay people, and ridiculing and shaming same-sex love, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis curated this moving modern-day classic entirely changing the game for good. This song is for everyone, who needs a lesson on coming in terms with the fact that LGBTQ is part of our society, and will always be.
Apart from these uplifting tunes, here are few other cuts that constitute the list’s “honourable mentions”:
LGBT – CupcakKeYour Song – Elton JohnTrue Colors – Cyndi LauperSissy That Walk – RuPaulFreedom! ‘90, – George MichaelAll Things (from Queer Eye) – Betty WhoGirls / Girls / Boys – Panic! at the DiscoLove Yourself – Sufjan StevensShe Keeps Me Warm – Mary LambertSmalltown Boy – Bronksi BeatA Little Respect – Erasure
10. Diana Ross – “I’m Coming Out”
The 1980 song by Diana Ross from her tenth album ‘Diana’, peaked the Billboard Hot 100 at number 5. It has been since then identified as a gay anthem and made Diana a gay icon. The idea for this song came after noticing three different drag queens dressed as Diana Ross at a New York club. The song has been covered by Hella von Sinnen, Marcia Hines and Amerie and has been sampled by Ariana Grande, Stevie J and Keyshia Col. It served as the source of inspiration of many queer people to come out to their loved ones.
9. “Believe” – Cher
The 1998 single from Cher’s twenty second album of the same name. The song peaked at number 1 in Billboard Hot 100 weekly charts and also reached number 1 in Year-End charts in 1999 and reached at number 31 in Decade-End charts of 1990-99. It was voted as the world’s eighth favourite song in a poll released by BBC. It has become one of the most well recognised gay anthems, because it reminded that even at times of hopelessness, one must believe in oneself.
7. “Born This Way” – Lady Gaga
The 2011 song from Lady Gaga’s second studio album by the same name is the latest entrant into the list of gay anthems and is also the youngest among the songs in the list. Upon its release, it took the world by storm. The song was dedicated to everyone who is considered to be different by the society , either based on his race, sex, sexuality, colour of the skin, religion, or for any other basis as a matter of fact. The song reached number one in over 25 countries to top the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and the 1,000th song in that chart’s history (since 1958) to reach number one. “Born This Way” has sold 8.2 million copies worldwide, becoming one of the best-selling singles of all time.
6. “I Will Survive” – Gloria Gaynor
The 1978 song from Gloria Gaynor’s sixth studio album. The song immediately upon its release became a symbol of female empowerment and gay empowerment. It gave out the message that although people can physically destroy us, they cannot destroy our soul. We all will survive for being who we are. It peaked at number 1 on Billboard Hot 100 weekly chart and at number 6 in the Year-End chart for 1979.
5. “Outlaws Of Love” – Adam Lambert
The song by 32 year old American singer, songwriter, and stage actor Adam Lambert spoke about how we distinguish love and put them under custody if they don’t fall within the radar of ‘normalness’ of society. The openly gay singer laid his heart out in the song and it has become a famous gay anthem.
3. “It’s Raining Men” – The Weather Girls
The 1982 song by The Weather Girls from their third studio album ‘Success’. This was the song which brought gay anthem into mainstream culture and gave gay anthems prominence. It is about just going out there with your hair down and having fun for who are. It has become a symbol of dance anthem, gay anthem, and classic female anthem. It reached number one in five countries and top 10 in thirteen other countries.
2. “Beautiful” – Christina Aguilera
The 2002 single form Christina Aguilera’s fourth studio album ‘Stripped’. The song peaked at number 2 in Billboard Hot 100 Weekly Charts and number in Year-End Charts for the year 2003. It topped the charts in countries like Australia, Belgium, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland and New Zealand. It won GLAAD Media Award for its positive portrayal of gay and transgender people. In 2011, UK LGBT rights organization Stonewall named “Beautiful” the most empowering song of the previous decade for gay, lesbian, and bisexual people. In 2009, Rolling Stone and VH1 listed it as one of the best songs of the 2000s. It won a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and was also nominated for Song of the Year at the 2004 ceremony. It told people that no matter who they are, they are beautiful and they should not let anyone bring them down.
1. “I’ve Never Been To Me” – Charlene
The 1977 song by Charlene by American R&B singer, although may come as a surprise, but is seen as a gay anthem because of the message it gives away. It tells that since that since the society does not let us who we are just because we don’t fall into the norms, therefore in order to fill into the shoes, we most of the times fail to be who we are at the end of the day. So, it’s time that we live for ourselves and be who we are and take a journey to be us.
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1. “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor
It starts off slowly, shrouded in fear; then the beat kicks in, the song builds in confidence, and by the end, now backed by a string section, it’s a full-bore disco anthem of self-assurance. On its beautiful face, Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” is about a woman getting over the guy who done her wrong; but in 1978, as gay liberation was gathering steam in heated nightclubs around the world, it also played like an declaration of hard-won pride (“I used to cry / But now I hold my head up high”) and independence from the hetero norm (“I’m not that chained-up little person still in love with you”). In the 1980s, when AIDS wiped out tens of thousands of those celebrants, the song took on new layers of resonance. Today „I Will Survive“ carries all of that baggage, and lifts it up along with the spirits of anyone who hears its message. Did you think we’d crumble? Did you think we’d lay down and die? Think again. We’re going to dance.—Adam Feldman
3. “Over the Rainbow” by Judy Garland
For generations who grew up as “friends of Dorothy,” yearning to escape into a realm of Technicolor urban fantasy, the tacit gay national anthem was Garland’s wistful ballad from 1939’s The Wizard of Oz (with a gorgeous melody by Harold Arlen and touching lyrics by social activist E.Y. “Yip” Harburg). Garland’s later performances of the song on TV and in concert—older, battered by life, but still dreaming of a happier place—had even greater power. But even now that so many closet doors have opened, “Over the Rainbow”—and don’t you dare call it “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” lest someone threaten to revoke your gay card—still inspires pride and reverence. Listening to it feels like saluting the rainbow flag.—Adam Feldman
4. “Vogue” by Madonna
„Look around: Everywhere you turn is heartache.“ That’s not exactly a fluffy opening shot for a dance-pop song—and that’s the point. Recorded at the height of America’s AIDS crisis and inspired by New York’s underground gay ball scene (famously documented in the 1991 film Paris Is Burning), Madonna’s deep-house–inflected 1990 smash commands you to leave the heavy stuff aside—if only for a few minutes—and find salvation on the dance floor. Nearly a quarter century later, this classic track from one of the most gay-beloved artists of all time sounds no less imperative.—Ethan LaCroix
5. “Black Me Out” by Against Me!
Singer Laura Jane Grace has always been a revolutionary—see songs like „Baby I’m an Anarchist“—but nothing rebelled as deeply against the heteropatriarchal terrain of the punk music mainstream than her explorations of coming out as a trans woman on her pivotal album Transgender Dysphoria Blues. This song isn’t a feel-good tune—it’s a glaring middle finger to those that keep you from claiming and presenting your authentic self. Bash back and scream along: „I want to piss on the walls of your house.“
7. “I’m Coming Out” by Diana Ross
Yes, this song is about that kind of „coming out.“ Chic’s Nile Rodgers was inspired to write this funky 1980 gem for Diana Ross after seeing multiple drag queens dressed as the iconic singer at a gay disco in New York. For her part, Ross was in the process of extracting herself from her long relationship with Motown when „I’m Coming Out“ arrived on the charts, giving the song additional significance for the music legend. Today, Ross still opens her shows with „I’m Coming Out,“ and the song remains a quintessential anthem of liberation—gay or otherwise.—Ethan LaCroix
8. “Y.M.C.A.” by Village People
For any guy who’s ever wanted to be (or sleep with) a cowboy, cop or leather-clad biker, the Village People reign supreme as gay-anthem chart toppers. Songs like „Macho Man,“ „Go West,“ „Cruisin'“ and „In the Navy“ are full of double entendres, and 1978’s „Y.M.C.A.“—which became one of the most popular singles of the 1970s—is no different. In fact, the Young Men’s Christian Association was so appalled at the song’s implications that it threatened to sue, until it noticed that membership had significantly increased in the wake of the tune’s success. Turns out any press is good press—eh, boys?—Kate Wertheimer
10. ‘F**k you’ by Lily Allen
This gem by Lily Allen might not be your typical big-voiced disco classic.
But its cutting lyrics make this song an absolute guilty pleasure and it’s not hard to imagine queer people all over the world singing this song with gusto from the comfort of their bedroom.
So you sayIt’s not okay to be gayWell I think you’re just evilYou’re just some racist whoCan’t tie my lacesYour point of view is medieval
8. ‘All the lovers’ by Kylie Minogue
Any list of gay anthems would probably lose all its credibility if it didn’t feature Kylie, one of the biggest gay icons of today.
The music video for this 2010 electropop track pays tribute to the 1969 Stonewall riots; an important historic event in the American gay rights movement. Featuring doves, balloons, white horses and a massive mob of half naked couples making out with one another, Kylie’s message of love rings loud and clear. Watching this love-filled video should be enough to fill anyone up with positive vibes!
7. ‘Let it go’ by Idina Menzei
This Oscar winning track has unintentionally become a coming-out anthem for millions of LGBTQ+ people around the world. Lyrics like ‘Be the good girl you always have to be / Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know’ unintentionally became incredibly relatable to closeted LGBTQ+ individuals all over the world.
6. ‘Brave’ by Sara Bareilles
Inspired by a close gay friend who was struggling to come out, Sara Bareilles penned this Grammy nominated song as a way of encouraging anyone struggling to come out.
Unsurprisingly, ‘Brave’ has since grown to become a popular coming-out anthem for the LGBT community.
5. ‘I am coming out’ by Diana Ross
The title of this classic Diana Ross track says it all. Although Diana Ross’s ‘coming out’ referred to her departure from Motown Records, this song has become an unofficial gay pride anthem. When you hear the chorus, it is not hard to see why.
4. ‘Born this way’ by Lady Gaga
Making it to number 4 on the list is none other than Mother Monster’s global smash hit, the empowering ‘Born this way’. This anthem blatantly targeted at the LGBT community advocates a strong message of self-acceptance and equality and is played at pretty much every gay pride event.
3. ‘Beautiful’ by Christina Aguilera
Composed and produced by gay songwriter Linda Perry, Christina Aguilera’s signature smash hit has become a prominent gay anthem due to its strong message of self-acceptance.
The popularity of this song within the LGBTQ+ community could be attributed to the fact that the music video itself prominently features several individuals from the LGBT community during a more conservative time. In fact, the song was awarded a GLAAD Media Award for its positive depiction of the LGBT community!
In light of the phenomenal impact this song has had on the LGBT community, I can’t think of a better song to award the number 3 spot to!
2. ‘Vogue’ by Madonna
One of the greatest gay icons of all time, Madonna was an outspoken gay rights activist long before it became the trend in Hollywood.
Released in 1990, this upbeat track has become one of the greatest dance floor anthems ever and up till now, is still regularly played at gay clubs all over the world. The ability of this iconic hit to get gay men to start striking ridiculous poses on the dance floor is a testament to its power over the gay community and reason enough to warrant it the number 2 spot on this list!
1. ‘Over the rainbow’ by Judy Garland
My pick for the greatest LGBT anthem of all time is none other than this classic tune from the 1939 film ‘The Wizard of Oz’.
This Academy Award-winning ballad has unintentionally become an anthem for the LGBT community due to it’s strong theme of escapism. Widely regarded as one of the greatest LGBT anthems of all time, it should not come as a surprise that ‘Over the rainbow’ takes the number 1 spot on this list. Plus, the fact that the rainbow is used as a symbol for the LGBT community pretty much makes this song a shoo-in for the number 1 spot.
Do a little research next time. “Color By Numbers” is Culture Club’s second album, not their debut. And as for gay anthems, where is “Queer” by Garbage, “A Man Inside My Mouth” by the Cure. “I Love A Man in a Uniform” by the Gang of Four. “Bi” by Living Color. “What’s Your Name” by Depeche Mode. ‘AllThe Young Girls Love Alice” by Elton John. ‘Billy Don’t Fall” by Terence Trent Darby. ‘Rebel Rebel” David Bowie. “Homosexuality” by Modern Rocketry.