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Not long after after Iggy Azalea canceled her appearance at Pittsburgh’s PrideFest celebration due to an uproar surrounding some of her old (kinda problematic) tweets, Nick Jonas swooped in as the new headliner.
While the lone Jonas Brother doesn’t have the same history of controversy that the I-G-G-Y does, he’s still a straight (as far as we know) white dude. So, regardless of how impossibly catchy “Jealous” may be, Nick Jonas can’t really rep the LGBTQ community at one of our biggest parties of the year.
In the past, Pittsburgh’s PrideFest has featured LGBTQ artists like Melissa Etheridge and Adam Lambert, so why were the top choices this year Iggy Azalea and Nick Jonas?
Just in case pride organizers are running out of ideas for artists, we’ve compiled this list of 21 amazing artists and bands — ranging from super well-known to still semi-underground — who are proud members of the LGBTQ community and would make totally kick-ass pride headliners:
Frank Ocean came out as bisexual in 2012. On “We All Try,” he sings, “I believe that marriage isn’t between a man and woman, but between love and love.”
In 2009, the “Chandelier” singer told Same Same, “I’ve always been honest if anyone ever asked me. Before I was actually successful I’d always said I’ve always dated boys and girls and anything in between. I don’t care what gender you are, it’s about people. I didn’t just recently open up, I just recently got famous!”
Everyone loves identical twins who write songs for kids movies, are both lesbians, and frequently speak out for LGBTQ rights. EVERYONE.
Haze’s lyrics frequently reference impmortant LGBTQ issues. During an interview with Fusion TV, Angel Haze was asked what she means when she describes herself as pansexual. “I define it as someone who sees people for who they are and not gender,” she said. “…pansexual, to me, means to just want love. To have a connection with anyone you can find it with.”
The 23-year-old singer just came out last year. During the same interview he also said, “My dad was a house husband, so the roles of women in my family were so strong. The guys are amazing in our family, but they are more feminine. The females are the providers, which has turned me into a complete feminist.”
Kele started out in the band Bloc Party, but has since also launched a successful solo career. In an article he wrote for Vice “On Being Gay and Black in the Dance and Rock Worlds” he said, “I have always maintained that art has to go against the grain. Or else, what is it for?”
Billy Gilman was only eleven years old when his country song “One Voice” became a hit. He came out in a Youtube video in 2014 (following country star Ty Herndon’s coming out), bravely breaking stereotypes and calling out bias in the industry when he said, “It’s difficult for me to make this [coming out] video, not because I’m ashamed of being a gay male artist…but…knowing that I’m in a genre and an industry that’s ashamed of me for being me.”
Blanco is a poet, rapper, actor, and author who identifies as “multi-gendered.” Blanco is performing at Portland’s pride this year, and has said that once s/he started dressing as a woman at age 16, “It was like a flowering. In my heart and my mind, that two-spirit side of myself—all of my feminine energy and power—flowered.”
Lowell is proudly bisexual. In her pop song “LGBT” she sings, “Why are you afraid of how I feel? L-G-B-T, L-O-V-E, ohhhh, don’t hate our love.”
Gender Nonconforming Conchita Wurst has risen to fame in Europe and helped out with the It Gets Better Project in the US. She’s already headlined dozens of pride events throughout Europe.
Lead singer Tyler Glenn grew up Mormon (as did the rest of the band), and bravely came out of the closet in an interview with Rolling Stone just last year. “The last thing I want[ed] to do is be that guy that gets married and lives the double life,” he said. “There’s so many of those people in Utah.”
The “Queen of Bounce” has gone from underground to big deal with appearances at SXSW, on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and on Last Call with Carson Daly in recent years. In 2013 Freedia led a huge crowd in New York City to set the Guinness World Record for twerking.
In 2012 YouTube banned an ad for Perfume Genius’s 2nd album, calling it “not family safe” because it included an image of two men in underwear hugging. The band’s 2014 song “Queen” features the line, “No family is safe, when I sashay.”
Le1f has told Fader, “I am gay, and I’m proud to be called a gay rapper, but it’s not gay rap. That’s not a genre. My goal is always to make songs that a gay dude or a straight dude can listen to and just think, This dude has swag.”
Queer, fat-positive frontwoman Beth Ditto once told The Guardian, “I represent a scene. The homos and the weirdos know that our band is always going to be their friend. …There’s tons of fat people who are gay and make music and love clothes and are like: ’F-ck it, I don’t care.’”
Lead singer Laura Jane Grace bravely transitioned very publicly. She also created a web series called True Trans to help highlight a wide range of transgender experiences.
After appearances on both American Idol and RuPaul’s Drag Race, Delano broke the Billboard record for the most successful released by a drag race contestant.
JBDubs describe themselves as “Out and proud pop music for hungry ears,” and Out has declared, “JbDubs has the fiercest legs in pop music.”
Bluesy-folk band Hurray for the Riff Raff directly address issues like violence in the LGBTQ communities through their lyrics. “You don’t see a Puerto Rican girl play the banjo in a honky-tonk very often,” lead singer Alynda Lee Segarrahas said. “You don’t see a transgender drummer/fiddle player very often. It’s awesome!”
Two members of the British all-girl band Stooshe came out as lesbians in 2013. They’ve already headlined several pride events and have said they’vegot their eye on the US market.
Cazwell is performing at Chicago Pride this weekend. In an interview with Chicago’s pride organizers about his participation, he offered advice to the newly out: “Just don’t stop. Life is like a highway and the road will eventually bring you somewhere. Don’t stop the car. Keep going, no matter what.”
Did we miss any LGBTQ artists you’d love to see at your city’s pride celebration? Let us know in the comments!
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