Songs of Love and Power: Celebrating LGBT+ Music

To mark LGBT+ History Month, Dr of Pop Alex Harden-Way shares some essential listening with the Guild from Queer artists and allies.

To mark LGBT+ History Month, Dr of pop music Alex Harden-Way shares some essential listening with the Guild from Queer artists and allies. Listen to the Spotify playlist here and find out more about each song and artist below. 

Songs of Empowerment

  1. Sylvester - 'You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)' Released in 1978, Sylvester's anthem 'You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)' became an instant classic in the disco era. With its pulsating beats and infectious energy, the song not only encapsulates the spirit of liberation on the dance floor but also serves as a symbol of empowerment for the LGBTQ+ community. Sylvester's powerful vocals convey a sense of authenticity, encouraging listeners to embrace their true selves and revel in the joy of self-expression. In the context of LGBT+ History Month, this track stands as a testament to the resilience and strength of the community, echoing the sentiment that everyone deserves to feel mighty real.

  2. Scissor Sisters - 'Filthy/Gorgeous' The Scissor Sisters' 'Filthy/Gorgeous' is a bold and unapologetic celebration of individuality and self-confidence. Released in 2004, the song challenges conventional standards of beauty and encourages listeners to embrace their unique qualities. With its infectious blend of pop, glam, and dance elements, 'Filthy/Gorgeous' is a sonic anthem for those who defy societal norms. As we celebrate LGBT+ History Month, this track serves as a reminder that empowerment comes from within, and being true to oneself is a powerful act of rebellion against stereotypes. It's a call to revel in your own filth and gorgeousness, unapologetically.

  3. Lady Gaga and Elton John - 'Sine From Above' A collaboration between two icons, Lady Gaga and Elton John, 'Sine From Above' is a transcendent ode to resilience and the power of connection. Released in 2020 and dubbed "the gayest song of all time" by Pink News, the song explores themes of healing and strength through adversity. In the context of LGBT+ History Month, the collaboration is a testament to the enduring spirit of the community. The title, 'Sine From Above,' implies a celestial force, reflecting the idea that empowerment can come from unexpected sources and that love and support can be found in the most extraordinary places. As Gaga and Elton join forces, their voices become a symbol of solidarity and a reminder that, together, we can rise above challenges.

Queering Pop Culture

  1. Jobriath - 'I'm a Man' Jobriath's 'I'm a Man' holds a unique place in Queer popular culture as it challenges traditional gender norms. Released in 1973, Jobriath, an openly gay artist, fearlessly embraced his identity and expressed it through his music. 'I'm a Man' serves as an anthem of self-affirmation, breaking away from societal expectations and celebrating the fluidity of gender. In the context of Queer culture, this song is a trailblazing statement, contributing to the ongoing conversation about gender identity and paving the way for future artists to express themselves authentically.

  2. Klaus Nomi - 'The Nomi Song' Klaus Nomi, an avant-garde artist and countertenor, left an indelible mark on Queer popular culture with his unique and theatrical performances. 'The Nomi Song,' released posthumously, pays tribute to this enigmatic figure. The song, like Nomi himself, defies categorization, blending elements of opera, new wave, and pop. Nomi's androgynous and otherworldly persona challenged norms and expanded the possibilities of self-expression within the Queer community. As we reflect on LGBT+ History Month, 'The Nomi Song' serves as a reminder of the diversity within the Queer arts scene and the impact of those who dare to be different.

  3. RuPaul - 'Supermodel (You Better Work)' RuPaul's 'Supermodel (You Better Work)' is a quintessential anthem in Queer popular culture. Released in 1992, the song not only marked RuPaul's breakthrough into the mainstream but also became a rallying cry for the LGBTQ+ community. With its catchy chorus and empowering lyrics, 'Supermodel' encourages individuals to embrace their uniqueness and confidently strut their stuff. RuPaul, a drag icon, has played a pivotal role in shaping Queer culture, promoting self-love, and fostering inclusivity. The song's legacy extends beyond the music industry, firmly establishing RuPaul as a cultural icon and a driving force in the ongoing fight for LGBTQ+ visibility and acceptance.

Queer Experiences

  1. Pet Shop Boys - 'Red Letter Day' The Pet Shop Boys' 'Red Letter Day' is a song widely interpreted as a call for equal marriage, following their previous work 'being boring' that took aim at the AIDS crisis and stigmatisation of Queer people. Released in 1997, the song explores mundanity of everyday life but positions it as an aspiration for the protagonist, repeating "all I want is what you want". As the lyrics speak to the yearing for equality, the song becomes a reflection of the vibrant and resilient spirit within the Queer community, marking milestones and embracing the freedom to express oneself.

  2. Steve Grand - 'All American Boy' Steve Grand's 'All American Boy' is a poignant exploration of love and identity within the context of the Queer experience. Released in 2013, the song challenges traditional narratives surrounding masculinity and romance. The lyrics depict a universal story of unrequited love, where Grand, an openly gay artist, shares a narrative that many within the LGBTQ+ community can relate to. 'All American Boy' addresses the complexities of navigating romantic feelings in a society that often imposes heteronormative expectations (as played out in the music video, in which the song's addressee rejects the protagonist's advances).

  3. Madonna - 'Vogue' Madonna's 'Vogue' is an iconic anthem that transcends music to become a cultural touchstone for the Queer experience. Released in 1990, the song is not only a celebration of dance and style but also a nod to the underground ballroom culture of the LGBTQ+ community. 'Vogue' pays homage to the art of voguing, a dance form that originated in the Queer ballroom scene, providing a spotlight on the creativity and resilience of LGBTQ+ individuals. Madonna's collaboration with Queer culture in 'Vogue' cements the song as a symbol of expression, self-empowerment, and the intersection of mainstream and subcultural identities within the LGBTQ+ experience.

Queering Gender through Song

  1. Kim Petras - 'Coconuts' Kim Petras's 'Coconuts' explores themes of self-expression and freedom, particularly as the first Grammy-winning trans artist. Released in 2019, the song showcases Petras's pop prowess and unapologetic approach to her identity. Through its overt sexualisation, 'Coconuts' celebrates selfconfidence and body positivity. The lyrics, coupled with Petras's confident delivery, invite listeners to embrace their authentic selves. The song's upbeat and carefree energy contributes to the growing conversation surrounding gender diversity, making 'Coconuts' not just a pop gem but also a declaration of individuality in the face of societal expectations.

  2. Dorian Electra - 'Flamboyant' Dorian Electra's 'Flamboyant' is a bold and theatrical exploration of gender expression and identity. Released in 2019, the song embraces flamboyance as a form of empowerment, challenging conventional notions of masculinity and femininity. Electra, a non-binary artist, uses 'Flamboyant' to play with and subvert gender stereotypes. The song becomes a celebration of diversity and the freedom to express oneself outside the confines of traditional gender norms. With its eclectic sound and unapologetic visuals, 'Flamboyant' contributes to the ongoing conversation about gender fluidity and serves as an anthem for those who defy societal expectations in their journey of self-discovery.

  3. Antony and the Johnsons - 'For Today I Am a Boy' Antony and the Johnsons' 'For Today I Am a Boy' is a haunting and introspective exploration of gender identity and the longing for self-recognition. Released in 2005, the song delicately captures the vulnerability and emotional complexity of the transgender experience. Antony Hegarty's evocative vocals convey a deep sense of yearning and introspection, reflecting the struggles of those who grapple with their gender identity. 'For Today I Am a Boy' serves as a poignant expression of the desire for self-acceptance and societal understanding within the transgender narrative. The song has become a resonant piece within the broader conversation about gender diversity and the quest for authenticity.


  1. Charli XCX - 'Silver Cross' Charli XCX's 'Silver Cross' reflects a powerful allyship message, with its themes of empathy and support. Released in 2019, the song addresses the struggles faced by the LGBTQ+ community, with 'Silver Cross' being a metaphor for a symbol of solidarity. Charli XCX, an ally to the community, uses her platform to amplify voices and shed light on the challenges faced by queer individuals. The song becomes a call to action, urging listeners to stand alongside their LGBTQ+ friends, promoting understanding, and fostering a sense of unity. Through 'Silver Cross,' Charli XCX not only provides a catchy pop anthem but also encourages allyship and inclusivity within the broader cultural landscape.

  2. Beyoncé - 'Break My Soul' Beyoncé's 'Break My Soul,' while not a known track, has been acknowledged as an influential allyship anthem through its themes of empowerment and resilience. Beyoncé, a vocal supporter of LGBTQ+ rights, uses her platform to inspire change and promote inclusivity. The title suggests breaking free from societal expectations and embracing one's authentic self. Through her music and advocacy, Beyoncé encourages allyship by fostering a sense of understanding and empathy. 'Break My Soul' serves as a reminder that allyship involves actively listening, supporting, and standing up against discrimination to create a world where everyone can thrive.

  3. Macklemore - 'Same Love' Macklemore's 'Same Love' is an anthem for LGBTQ+ allyship that gained widespread recognition for its message of love and acceptance. Released in 2012, the song addresses the issues of marriage equality and challenges the prejudices faced by the LGBTQ+ community. Macklemore, along with Ryan Lewis, uses 'Same Love' to advocate for equal rights and to encourage empathy and understanding. The song serves as a powerful tool for allies to educate themselves and others, fostering conversations about inclusivity and acceptance. 'Same Love' became an anthem for the marriage equality movement, highlighting the importance of allyship in creating positive social change.