Brighten up the June gloom with this rainbow-colored Mandatory Playlist that celebrates Gay Pride Month (we also have companion movies). Although these talented LGBTQ artists should be celebrated all year long, Pride Month is a great opportunity to shine a light on those outside the box who’re redefining stereotypes by proudly telling their stories through the universal language of music.
The former Disney Channel actress is star of the here and now. A biracial, Millennial multi-hyphenate (actress, singer, songwriter, director) with a huge social media following, who, oh yeah… happens to like girls. On her latest music video, “What I Need”, Kiyoko teams up with fierce fellow rainbow warrior, Kehlani, for a Thelma & Louise-style girl’s trip that ends with a passionate make out session.
The South African-born, Australian singer, songwriter, actor, is well on his way to becoming the queer icon of his generation. Although the former YouTube star played a young Logan in X-Men Origins: Wolverine (take that close-minded fanboys), Sivan’s first love is music, where he broke out big with “Happy Little Pill” (41 million views on YouTube and counting). His second album, Bloom (due out this Aug.), and first ever headlining tour will undoubtedly establish the openly gay Sivan as a worldwide pop star, period.
The clever stage name signifies an artist comfortable in her own skin. That confidence can be heard in King Princess’s (real name Mikaela Straus) debut song “1950,” which the Brooklyn born and bred singer/songwriter has described as “a love song told through the lens of queerness.”
Defiant and flamboyant in the less open days of the LGBTQ movement, Perfume Genius (aka Mike Hadrea) has always worn his true colors on his sequined sleeves with pride. His 2014 queer anthem Queen seems like a fore-bearer for many artists on this playlist. Although his breakout album Too Bright focused on his past struggles with sobriety and homophobia, Perfume Genius seems on a new sonic trajectory with his transcendental and tender 2017 release No Shape.
Lauren Ruth Ward
LRW is an old soul with a modern message. The “Blue Collar Sex Kitten” is in the mold of Janis Joplin and Grace Slick, but her soul-bearing songs about tolerance, torment, and sexuality define what it means to be a young person today.
The Brazilian drag queen turned singer-songwriter is impossible to define, building an international fanbase by crossing genres with anthems he describes as “making music for humans.” Vittar has reached the top of Brazil’s pop charts in 2017 twice with “K.O.” and “Corpo Sensual, was featured on Charli XCX’s latest album and recently teamed up with the star making Diplo not once, but twice.
Petras’ bouncy, bubblegum synth pop sound harkens back to classic Britney Spears and young Katy Perry, but Petras story is indelibly unique. The German pop star has been in the public eye since becoming one of the youngest people to undergo gender reassignment surgery. Her debut single,”I Don’t Want It at All” (2017), topped the international Spotify charts, but not without controversy as it was produced by Dr. Luke, who was accused of rape by another one of the hitmakers’ former proteges, Kesha.