The 13 Gayest Music Videos of the '80s
The overall queerness of pop in 2020 has us thinking back to the gayest decade pop music ever experienced: the ‘80s. The flamboyance. The androgyny. The straight-up faggotry. The ‘80s had it all, and today we celebrate the moments where the gay really jumped OUT in the decade’s foremost art form: the music video.
Icons like Whitney and Madonna turned out plenty of hits during the ‘80s that are today considered gay anthems, but these classic videos—either by LGBTQ+ artists or featuring queer subject matter—are gay in a more literal sense. Dig in below to see how they helped pave the way for today’s queer pop landscape.
FREDDIE MERCURY - “LIVING ON MY OWN” (1985)
The Queen biopic depicted Freddie’s solo career as a failed experiment, but over-the-top classics like this prove he was on to something good when he was living on his own.
BRONSKI BEAT - “SMALLTOWN BOY” (1984)
This ‘80s dance hit and its explicitly queer video about a smalltown gay boy in the big city broke new ground for LGBTQ+ visibility—and reached the top of the charts in the process.
CULTURE CLUB - “DO YOU REALLY WANT TO HURT ME” (1982)
There’s not much of a storyline here, but watching Boy George scandalize a bunch of stuffy British elders with his androgynous style, slinky dance moves, and limp-wristed vocals is the stuff of queer dreams.
MARC ALMOND - “RUBY RED” (1987)
Few ‘80s pop stars were more in-your-face about their sexuality than Soft Cell frontman Marc Almond, and this kinky Kenneth Anger-inspired visual is as gay as it gets.
THE B-52s - “LOVE SHACK” (1989)
As if The B-52’s John Waters-inspired aesthetic and out-and-proud frontman Fred Schneider weren’t gay enough for you, this campy vid for their late-’80s hit features a pre-fame cameo by the one and only RuPaul.
WHAM! - “CLUB TROPICANA” (1983)
It would be another 15 years before he formally came out, but if George Michael in a white speedo vamping to this breezy 1983 bop doesn’t set off your gaydar…nothing will.
JOAN JETT - “CRIMSON AND CLOVER” (1981)
Jett has never directly confirmed her rumored bisexuality, but the fact that she didn’t change the pronouns in her cover of Tommy Shandell’s dreamy pop ballad—originallly addressed to a female love interest—has only fueled speculation over the years.
RUPAUL - “IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD” (1985)
Before Ru unleashed the glamazon and become a household name with 1993’s “Supermodel (You Betta Work),” he was just an androgynous punk kid fucking with gender and making homemade music videos with friends. We stan.
DEAD OR ALIVE - “YOU SPIN ME ROUND (LIKE A RECORD)” (1984)
The hair. The bejeweled eye patch. The sassy hand moves. Pete Burns was one of the most eccentric pop figures to emerge from the ‘80s, and we thank him for his service.
MALCOLM MCLAREN - “DEEP IN VOGUE” (1989)
British pop impresario Malcolm Mclaren beat Madonna to the punch by a year in bringing voguing to the masses with this 1989 classic, which features moves by NYC ball culture legend Willi Ninja.
VISAGE - “FADE TO GREY” (1980)
Few videos embody the androgynous excess of the early-’80s New Romantic scene like Visage’s “Fade to Grey,” and bisexual frontman Steve Strange has the lewks to prove it.
DURAN DURAN - “THE CHAUFFEUR” (1982)
Arguably the most stylish video of the entire decade, Duran Duran’s Helmut Newton-inspired clip for “The Chauffeur” ends in an exotic lesbian love-dance that is absolutely essential viewing.
ERASURE - “CHAINS OF LOVE” (1988)
If seeing Andy Bell suspended from chains just BASKING in his gayness doesn’t make you feel like you’re in an episode of Queer as Folk, you’ve got some homework to do.