Pride in Pop

by Nick Sheppard

Pop music has long been a space for LGBTQ artists to play with their identities. Some opted to hide their true selves in fear of commercial backlash (Liberace, Freddie Mercury); others drowned the stage in it like the incomparable David Bowie. Today, riding on the rainbow wave of support from people like Lady Gaga and monumental SCOTUS rulings, more and more queer artists feel able to share their gayest, truest selves with the world on and off stage. Let’s take a look at a few LGBTQ people who are using their art to come out again and again, like Ms. Diana Ross’ song on repeat, honey.

Troye Sivan

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Sivan in “Bloom”

Pop’s most adorable, gay brunette-turned-platinum blonde is growing up to be one helluva queer. His latest, most fabulous music video for his single “Bloom” (aka “Ode to Bottoming”) is a far cry from the rather dark and serious “Blue Neighborhood” video — the latter depicts a same-sex relationship that is violently quashed before it has a chance to blossom. It took him a moment to work up to where he is now in his visual art, with baby steps like a “Make America Gay Again” hat in his “YOUTH” video. Now, he’s blown us away with his feeling-my-sexy-fierce-self moment in “My My My!” (the visuals of which are what I imagine I look like lip syncing for my life in my bathroom mirror). “Bloom” is joyful, gender fluid, and full to the brim of that baby blue plumed hat with some seriously killer looks. Sivan’s album by the same name is set to release on August 31st, so come on, Troye, give us more!

lgbtq culture singers songwriters popular music gayJanelle Monáe

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Monáe in “Pynk”

Throughout her career, Janelle Monáe has never liked to comment on her sexuality, usually dodging the question by saying she only dates androids, in true Monáe sci-fi fashion. After officially coming out in her Rolling Stone profile last April, that’s all changed. Her latest album Dirty Computer and its accompanying short film illustrate her growth. The “emotion picture” — pause to appreciate that “e” — is full of pride for her blackness, her womanhood, and her newfound sexual liberation. We see Jane flirt on screen with her male and female love interests (the latter portrayed by Tessa Thompson) in the “Make Me Feel” video. Then, the visual piece of candy that is “Pynk” delivers a spoken word poem expressing her love for all things human while rolling on a bed with Thompson. Dirty Computer kisses the days of questioning if she’s “a freak because [she] love[s] watching Mary” goodbye and embraces the simple fact that it’s just the way she feels. She’s out, she’s proud, and she couldn’t give less of a damn if you compute or not.Pride in Pop

Hayley Kiyoko

lgbtq culture singers songwriters popular music gayAfter starring in Lemonade Mouth and The Fosters, who’da thunk Ms. Hayley Kiyoko would become the so-called “Lesbian Jesus?” Her pilgrimage started with a bang in 2015 with her song “Girls Like Girls.” Though she wasn’t in the song’s video, she told Paper Magazine that the huge amount of online support for the story’s relatability validated her sharing her queer identity with the world and helped her to realize that she “could be herself and people are okay with that.” Each video after that, Kiyoko added, became a “stepping stone” in her journey. “Feelings” imbued Kiyoko with a mister-steal-yo-girl swag; “Curious” saw her basically steal a dude’s girl (complete with a bathroom make-out scene); and her “What I Need” collaboration with fellow queer artist Kehlani placed her in a more concrete same-sex relationship on-screen with a hefty amount of narrative (also topped off with a passionate kiss). Alls I gots to say is keep on stepping, Hayley, keep on stepping ‘til you get promoted to “Lesbian God.”

lgbtq culture singers songwriters popular music gayShare your Pride, everybody! Go forth and be gay because as the wise Titus Burgess once said… •lgbtq culture singers songwriters popular music gay

Nick Sheppard is a junior Government major. He has been writing for Spark’s magazine for two semesters and joined the Spark Online team this summer. Catch him constantly checking SYRO’s website, disappointed yet again that the Bruce heel in red snakeskin is out of stock in a size 11.

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