Rock You Like a Hurricane: 14 Queer and Gay Rock Stars We Love

Curious about the greatest gay rock stars of all time? Here are 14 queer contenders who paved the way for gay representation in music.
Grindr
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Editorial team
February 2, 2024
February 29, 2024
6
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There’s a lot of overlap between rock ’n’ roll and LGBTQ culture. Between the rebellious spirits, blurring of gender lines and expressions, and the sequined outfits, you could argue that the genre is pretty darn gay at its core.

And we wouldn’t argue against it; rock has deeply influenced many aspects of queer culture. But it’s not just the music that fuels the queerness; it’s the queer musicians themselves.

Rock was as much about being fiercely unique as it was about creating great music. Our list of queer and gay rock stars is a testament to this, and their impact on the culture is just as hardcore as some of their greatest hits.

What makes rock ’n’ roll gay culture?

Rock has revolutionary roots, instantly making it attractive to the misfits and outcasts of society. Although we’re living in an era where gay culture is much more mainstream, it wasn’t always the case.

So much of rock’s appeal stems from its embrace of the strange and countercultural. That acceptance would almost become a prerequisite; even if you weren’t gay, enjoying rock music meant embracing humanity’s differences.

Case in point: Queen. Although many examples below provide excellent evidence, Queen was a foundational illustration of queerness in rock breaking through to the mainstream. Gay lyrics, outfits, and overtones became commonplace in some of the most painfully heterosexual environments, further proving that gay culture isn’t just influential; it’s inevitable.

The music scene is no stranger to gay voices. Artists like Ricky Martin, Joy Oladokun, and Troye Sivan are all of the LGBTQ persuasion. Orville Peck and Frank Ocean are leading queer figures in country and R&B, respectively. And who could forget the cultural sensation that is Lil Nas X?

Although these artists aren’t necessarily rock stars, it’s safe to say yesterday’s queer rockstars paved the way for today’s gay bands and singers to take that same rock ’n’ roll spirit of unapologetic expression and apply it to their own presentation, both on and off stage.

The greatest and gayest: 14 queer rock icons

There are many great gays of rock, but not all of them can make it into the Grindr Hall of Fame. Here are our 14 favorite queer musicians who rocked as out and as proud as possible in their life and careers:

1. Elton John

Probably the most iconic and prominent entry on our list of gay singers is Sir Elton John. He’s the gay rock prototype and another excellent example of an artist who popularized flamboyant flair. He’s only gotten gayer with time, and we couldn’t be more proud to have someone this prideful at the helm of our community. 

2. Freddie Mercury

Freddie Mercury is the only darling diva here that could give Elton John a run for his money. And with a band name like Queen, you better believe he was and still is a queer rock icon. Queen’s music isn’t shy about its love for a fat ass, regardless of the owner’s gender.

Mercury’s overt sexuality during a challenging time for queer people remains one of the most empowering efforts from such an influential public figure.

3. Billie Joe Armstrong

Billie Joe Armstrong, lead singer of Green Day, came out as bisexual in an interview in 1995. Although the ’90s saw the beginning of an upward trajectory of acceptance for the LGBTQ community, living so openly in your truth during this time was still extremely rare — a huge win for bisexual representation. We could always use more bi-cons in the public eye.

4. Tegan and Sara Quin

Identical twin sister duo Tegan and Sara have been unapologetically representing the queer community for years through their music. These lesbian indie artists don’t shy away from expressing sapphic sentiments with their lyrics. With a hit song like “Girlfriend” making its way onto many a queer playlist, we’re feeling the love.

5. Lzzy Hale

The openly bisexual Lzzy Hale isn’t just proud of who she is; she has music that empowers others to feel the same. She speaks often about being “unapologetically bisexual” and has no qualms about embracing her queer identity. The Halestorm singer and guitarist is a beacon for fellow bisexuals on social media, using her platform to further encourage her fanbase to be themselves.

6. Rob Halford

Rob Halford, lead singer of Judas Priest, came out in 1998, shaking things up in the heavy metal scene by being openly gay. Halford’s courage and honesty won him praise, and his initial concerns about losing fans due to his identity were quickly dispelled. His coming out was a big deal for metal, LGBTQ acceptance, and music as a whole.

7. Laura Jane Grace

From a young age, punk singer Laura Jane Grace struggled with her gender identity. After her transition in 2012, she’s living in her truth, which makes her a total rockstar in more ways than one. Her time with Against Me! garnered her respect and visibility among the queer community and punk scene as a transgender rock star.

8. Little Richard

Little Richard had a complicated relationship with his sexuality, renouncing his gay lifestyle after finding religion. Still, it’s hard to deny how much he made flouncy flamboyance par for the course within the genre. His over-the-top demeanor empowered many others to be their authentic selves.

9. Lady Gaga

Mother Monster isn’t just supportive of the queer community; she’s an active participant. Gaga identifies as bisexual, and although she’s made it clear that she doesn’t necessarily speak for the gay community, she remains one of our fiercest allies in every sense of the word. While her music frequently skirts the line between genres, her public persona definitely qualifies her for rock star status. Plus, have you seen those outfits? 

10. Gaahl

Our first entry that might surprise some rock fans is metal artist Gaahl. He’s openly gay, and his fans truly couldn’t be more unbothered by it. It’s just another example of metal and rock enthusiasts caring much more about the music than anything else.

11. George Michael

Pop-rock singer and songwriter George Michael is easily one of the most famous gay musicians of his time. Starting as one half of the pop duo Wham!, he eventually began an illustrious solo career full of music with overtly gay themes. Daddy George can be our father figure any day.

12. Adam Lambert

Another pop-rock icon, Adam Lambert’s success came by way of American Idol. His music and style resonate with rock fans and LGBTQ folks alike. He is now one of the most beloved gay male singers in the music industry, known for his dramatic flair and intense vocals.

13. Lou Reed

Lou Reed’s actual sexuality is still hotly contested, but there was one thing for sure: His proclivities would have placed him somewhere on the LGBTQ spectrum. He was often vague about his sexuality, although most of his fans would say his bisexuality was pretty obvious.

14. David Bowie

David Bowie’s imprint on rock — and the gay community — is undeniable. Queer artists like Lady Gaga constantly reference him as an influence on their music and style. Like Reed, he remained enigmatic about his sexuality until the end. Still, Bowie’s queer leanings and glam rock aesthetic were constant subjects of controversy and intrigue that brought gay culture to the mainstream.

The quintessential queer icons of rock

Next time you need a touch of homoerotic headbanging, help yourself to the discography of any of these timeless stars. Each of these talented artists serves as a pleasant reminder that being yourself is the path to being free. 

Well, that and wearing sparkly pants. But that’s part of the process, right? 

Looking for something that rhymes with rock? Plenty of gorgeous guys near you would be happy to play you like a Stratocaster tuned to drop D, and they’re waiting for you on Grindr.

Download the Grindr app now and get started!

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