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Work It, Bitch: Iconic Queer and Gay Artists in Music History

We’re gay; of course we’re great at making music. Here are 30 of the greatest gay artists for your listening pleasure.
Grindr
&
Editorial team
April 2, 2024
May 21, 2024
9
min. read
Table of Contents

We’re here. We’re queer. And we’re artistic.

Our gay audacity leads us to believe that we can weave a basket or sew a dress with zero prior experience. Because, hey, we’re gay. How hard can it really be? With that kind of natural flair, it’s no wonder gay artists make up some of the most legendary acts in music history.

From glittering pop powerhouses to soulful rock stars, our favorite queer artists transcend genres, push pop culture forward, and write the soundtrack to our most memorable moments.

30 of the most iconic queer and gay musicians

Just dance and spin that record, babe. Here are 30 of the most fabulous queer musicians in history. 

1. Joy Oladokun

With a guitar in hand and soulful lyrics in her heart, Joy Oladokun crafts genre-bending folk-pop anthems that go straight for the jugular. Every track feels like a heart-to-heart with your besties. They make us feel seen, heard, and a little less alone in the world. 

2. Ricky Martin

Shaking his bon-bons onto the global pop charts, Ricky Martin embodies the “vida loca” that gay men simply call Tuesday. And he looks damn good doing it.

3. Orville Peck

He’s a legend, he’s an icon, and he is the moment. The mysterious country singer is more than a fringe mask and a cowboy hat. Orville Peck is also a pair of assless chaps and a baritone that makes us want to saddle him like a mechanical bull. 

4. Kim Petras

Pop star Kim Petras made history as the first openly trans woman to nab a Grammy for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. And it was long overdue. Bops like “Treat Me Like a Slut” and “Throat Goat” aren’t just catchy. They prove that being a nasty ho is the road to success. 

5. Brandy Clark

Brandy Clark is a lesbian country singer who turns country music clichés on their pretty little heads. Her songs about love, heartbreak, and life’s ups and downs cut deeper than a sharp pair of stilettos on a Nashville stage.

6. Adam Lambert

Shoulder pads, eye shadow, and hair as high as his falsettos. Only a gay singer could be this fabulous. Adam Lambert is definitely our American Idol.

7. George Michael

George Michael is one of the most successful musicians of all time. Although he wasn’t always open about his sexuality, he wrote an LGBTQ song for every moment. “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” hypes you up for a night of dancing. “Careless Whisper” sets the mood for a sexy post-club hookup. And don’t even get us started on all the daddy issues “Father Figure” triggers.

8. Elton John

If we had to choose a queer celeb to marry, it’d be Elton John. The glitter, the glam, the wardrobe! Elton John is a gay icon who taught us it’s OK to embrace our queerness and authentically be ourselves.

9. Freddie Mercury

Only a Queen could make a mustache look that hot. Freddie Mercury proves that the show must always go on in all its queer glory.

10. Rob Halford

Leather-clad and ready to rock, Rob Halford brought metal to the queer masses. The gay music artist’s screeching vocals are as legendary as his coming out, demonstrating that there’s space for LGBTQ artists in every genre of music. 

11. Lil Nas X 

We’d happily ride him like a horse (or vice versa) all the way to Old Town Road. After his country-infused debut, Lil Nas X has continued to shake up the world of hip-hop with his unapologetically gay lyrics

12. Brandi Carlile

Before country music got so gay, Brandi Carlile made waves with her song “The Story.” An anthem to creating your own family, the singer carved a space for queer country artists to join her with a new brand of Americana. 

13. Brooke Eden

Brooke Eden was told to hide her relationship to keep her career as a country singer. Tired of staying quiet, she came out in 2021 and shot her wedding for a People cover story just to be extra sassy. No wonder her country hits are as warm as a summer day at a pride parade.

14. Chely Wright

Chely Wright has been a famous country singer since the mid-1990s. Half of her career was spent unhappily in the closet. In 2010, she released her monumental coming-out album, Lifted Off the Ground, and hasn’t looked back since. 

15. Lance Bass

The *NSYNC star didn’t exactly surprise us with his 2006 coming out. But he proved it’s never too late to be whoever you want — even if that’s a space cowboy with frosted tips.

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16. Ty Herndon

In 2014, Ty Herndon became the first mainstream male country artist to come out. After battling addiction, a sexual assault, and a lavender marriage, we’re glad he made it to the other side and channeled his hurt into songs of incredible hope and resilience. We must stan.

17. Michael Stipe

The proudly queer R.E.M. frontman has always sung for the misfits and the misunderstood, turning melancholy into connection and belonging. Even if it’s the end of the world as we know it, we feel fine. 

18. Darren Hayes

We’re still not over the sudden breakup of Savage Garden. Luckily, Darren Hayes has announced a memoir. We’re ready for all the tea. 

19. Frank Ocean

Frank Ocean flipped the script on masculinity and R&B when he published an open letter about his unrequited attraction to a man. But that’s not the only thing that makes him a pioneer. It’s his experimental mix of hip-hop, pop, and R&B that makes him an icon. And we need him to stop teasing us with singles and drop a new album already!

20. Allison Russell

Allison Russell is a queer poet, singer-songwriter, and activist who can play the hell out of the guitar, banjo, and clarinet. The multi-hyphenate proves when it comes to music, gays are always gonna go extra. 

21. Kehlani

Kehlani was a ballet dancer before a knee injury made them turn their attention to singing. Not to sound too Tonya Harding, but thank the gay lord. Otherwise, the “Nights Like This” star would’ve never gifted us with some of our favorite breakup songs

22. Olly Alexander

Name a better title for “Starstruck,” the dancefloor banger with a remix that brings together LGBTQ icon Kylie Minogue and English crooner Olly Alexander. We’ll dance while we wait. 

23. Mark Feehily

Mark Feehily walked so Lance Bass could prance. The blue-eyed boy band singer recently became a daddy, making that Irish accent all the sexier. 

24. Billy Gilman 

He burst onto the national stage at age 11, becoming the youngest country singer to crack the Top 40 on the country charts. His recent bluegrass singles make us all melt like the Delta Queens we are.  

25. Troye Sivan

"Rush” had us in a chokehold. The music video for this gay banger starts with a man smacking his own ass, then pans over to Troye in leather chaps and tighty-whities before turning into an orgy-filled kaleidoscope that celebrates being young, gay, and carefree. Sign us up!

26. Kalifa

Our booties are still bouncing 10 years after the release of “Wut.” Kalifa hasn’t dropped a song since his 2018 EP Blue Dream, and we’re still mad about it. 

27. Hamed Sinno

Hamed Sinno might not be a household name yet, but do yourself a favor and google them. They’re more than just a puppy-eyed buzz cut with a mustache we’d like to sit on. The non-binary Lebanese-American leader singer of Mashrou’ Leila could sing the alphabet, and we’d be captivated.

28. Trixie Mattel

She’s not just a Drag Race All Stars winner, cosmetics and hotel magnate, and host of the popular web series UNHhhh and The Pit Stop. She’s also a singer-songwriter who can play the guitar, autoharp, and clarinet. What can’t the skinny legend and world-famous drag queen do? Nothing.

29. Josh Kiszka 

He’s basically Jimmy Page in a sequin silk onesie. And talk about fashion! Josh Kiszka of Grammy-winning rock band Greta Van Fleet is a gay style icon, and all the best LGBTQ designers should be banging at his dressing room door.

30. Big Freedia

Big Freedia is responsible for popularizing bounce, a New Orleans hip-hop style. She’s also responsible for our favorite Lady Gaga cover. Her rendition of “Judas” is an electro-pop anthem that’s bursting at the seams with camp. It always makes us want to dance and spin that record, babe.

For your listening pleasure

There are enough incredible gay artists to fill a playlist that lasts a lifetime. And if you’re looking for a musically inclined man to tickle your ivories, you’ll find him on Grindr. Download the Grindr app and get ready for a private listening party.

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