Lady Gaga-Born this way
Once upon a time, my middle school brought everyone into the auditorium to talk about acceptance and tolerance. The administration showed videos of The Trevor Project and played Born This Way. Little 7th grade me never heard anything like the lyrics in the song that just stuck out to me. In 2011, the song definitely broke barriers in a way of actually naming the different sexualities as well as mentioning transgender people. This song was one of the guiding forces in figuring out my identity knowing that people outside accept everyone as they are.
Macklemore ft mary lambert-Same Love
The summer going into my freshman year of high school, (June 2012), I heard Same Love on the radio. I didn’t really think much of the song until I heard Lambert sing. Fast forward to the summer of 2013. I was on a summer program with my Jewish youth group where I inevitably came out to over 100 people by rapping Same Love. I did the same thing the following summer but it was over 300 people that I rapped and sang the song. Yes, there are pictures and videos of it. Same Love has the absolutely most impact on me not only because of the lyrics but because of the meaning behind the song
Fleetwood Mac/The Chicks-Landslide
Okay, I know what y’all are thinking. This is only on here because of Glee. I am here to tell you that’s not the case. For me, Landslide was one of those songs I grew up listening to mainly because of my two older sisters. When I got older and started to truly look into the lyrics, I realised it spoke to me in a way I wasn’t ready to accept and admit quite yet. The meaning behind the song is the fear of losing something in pursuit of a dream. I was scared to come out for fear of losing my dreams of covering sports. Instead, I am embraced by the athletes and leagues that I cover despite me being gay. Landslide helped me overcome the fear at a young age even if it took a long time to do.
Taylor Swift-You Need To Calm Down
It was a nice, hot June summer in Missouri when this iconic modern Taylor Swift song came out. My best friend and I were bopping to this on walks to our summer classes. Flash forward to November 2019 when I was hanging in the radio station that I did sports broadcasting at and we were listening to my Spotify. This song came on and all my friends who were there, all identify as straight, screamed from the rooftops, “SHADE NEVER MADE ANYBODY LESS GAY!” This song brought LGBTQ+ people and straight people together to show that everyone deserves equal rights. When Taylor petitioned in favour of the Equality Act, it made more people realize how important equality is in all aspects. This song will probably be down in the top 5 in gay anthems of 2019.
Hayley Kiyoko- Girls like Girls
This song always has a place on my playlist, not only is this song a queer anthem but just an all-around bop. Girls like Girls is on Hayley Kiyoko’s second EP This Side of Paradise. Kiyoko said in an interview for US weekly that the song is a “female anthem for a girl stealing another guy’s girl.” The song itself has that catchy type of tune that can get stuck in your head for hours as well as an incredibly catchy chorus that is perfect to belt at the top of your lungs.
Kylie Minogue - Can’t Get You out of My Head
Will I ever fully grasp why Kylie Minogue is a gay icon? Probably not, but I don’t have to. No queer anthem list is complete without her, specifically Can’t Get You out of My Head. Honestly, any party is incomplete without a bit of Kylie, even if the patrons don’t regularly listen to her music. Can’t Get You out of My Head’s repetitive “La la la”s will forever be stuck in my head waiting for their chance to come out. More like Can’t Get This Song out of My Head.
Hippo Campus - Boys
In comparison to many of the songs on this list, Boys isn’t a cult classic within the queer community. Whilst it lacks the distinctive pop elements that so many queer anthems have, I think it has the potential to gain some notoriety. The song’s title comes from a line in the chorus: “Kissing boys, missing work / Got hungover from your words.”
The song is actually the first from the band that explicitly touches on mlm (men loving men) after lead vocalist Jake Luppen discussed his queerness in a 2021 Billboard interview. Even if the situation doesn’t apply to you, it’s still a really good song (in my opinion), particularly with the repeating closing chorus.
Clairo - Sofia
Clairo’s debut album Immunity has a few songs that discuss relationships with women, but Sofia is by far the most well-known. Named after several famous Sofias, particularly Sofia Coppola, the track marks the first time Claire openly sang about her sexuality.
In a series of tweets, she explained the track’s birth and lyrical meaning:
Halsey - Heaven In Hiding
Halsey’s second album is a concept album, meaning the songs on the project are all tied together by a common theme or storyline. In the case of hopeless fountain kingdom, the album follows a storyline of a gender-swapped version of Romeo and Juliet, specifically Baz Luhrmanns’ 1996 film.
Heaven In Hiding details a “crazy house party” in which “Luna” (Halsey’s Romeo character) and “Rosa” (Lauren Jauregui’s Rosaline character) meet for the first time. Their relationship is further detailed in the pair’s wlw single Strangers. Heaven In Hiding is a charged track with hard-hitting drums making for a perfect angsty alt-pop banger.
The Neighbourhood - Sweater Weather
Even with some gendered lyrics, “All I am is a man” and “She knows what I think about”, Sweater Weather has become a bisexual anthem, thanks to TikTok. Some influencers have even used the song to come out on the app, furthering its use as a bisexual identifier.
Prior to its TikTok popularity, Sweater Weather was a favourite among alt-rock listeners following its initial 2012 release. In response to its recent popularity, the band released a “Vevo footnotes” video to Youtube, detailing the song’s birth. In the video, the band commented on its “bi anthem” status, saying “it’s really cool” that the bisexual community has embraced the track.
Coming Out - Jessie Paege
With Coming Out, Jessie Paege showed fans and listeners a real sense of vulnerability as she documented the story of her own coming out as bisexual two years prior - with a ‘based on a true story’ recreation in the music video - and the acceptance, or lack of, that they experienced because of it. It’s an anthemic song in the way of Paege not apologising for, or hiding their sexuality anymore, and taking control of her life back and living authentically, honestly, and happily
Bisexual Anthem - Domo Wilson
This is a quintessential queer anthem, and not just because the name of the song says so. Domo Wilson takes little time to get a song that is all about bisexuality as she puts to bed the stereotypes that the community faces, all the while exuberating confidence in her own sexuality. There are multiple cries both towards the community in standing up for who they are and to others who need to hear what she’s saying. It’s a song all in the name of bi pride, with a call out to not forget or discredit the B in LGBT.
girls - girl in red
This offering from Norwegian singer-songwriter girl in red is just one of her many wistful songs that make you feel free, but with girls, it’s a track that expresses her sexuality deeper and any conflict that comes as a result but also being sure of herself and her feelings towards those of the opposite sex. With girl in red though, as well as through her music, the hold that she also has on the queer - and more so the lesbian community - all stems from, and can be summed up by the question, “Do you listen to girl in red?”, which is a fair assessment as to her placing within the community.
Run Away With Me - Carly Rae Jepsen
Some people might just associate Carly Rae Jepsen with Call Me Maybe, but not the gays because Run Away With Me has become a gay anthem. From the saxophone-infused notes right from the outset and throughout the song to the upbeat poppy mood of the lyrics, this song has generated memes and comments since its release, all targeted positively towards, and by the queer community. There’s also something about seeing the queer community coming together every year when this song gets played on Triple J’s ‘Requestival’ that reinforces that the gays really have taken this song for themselves.
All The Things She Said - t.A.T.u
While it’s since been revealed the pop duo of Lena Katina and Yulia Volkova weren’t lesbians in real life as some might’ve thought based on the music video, coupled with Volkova’s problematic comments regarding the queer community, there’s no denying that All The Things She Said is a queer anthem. The duo put a voice to teen queer angst and confusion, so much so that people latched onto it, so much so that even today there remains an element of queer reminiscence about this song whenever it plays.
Dolly Parton - Jolene
Should a song about a woman begging another woman to not take away her man be a queer anthem, probably not, but when it comes from a living icon like Dolly Parton and has been performed by Drag Queens at nearly every club known to man it’s hard to give it a miss. As soon as the opening beat kicks in you feel like singing along and considering Dolly’s way with words it’s hard to resist. There is also just something about listening to a woman sing about another woman’s beauty without animosity but instead melancholy that tugs on the heartstrings and makes you wish that it was a love song to Jolene than the truth of the matter.
Joseph Trapanese and Joey Batey - Burn Butcher Burn
If there was ever a masterful breakup song in a TV show then the song Burn Butcher Burn from season two of The Witcher is it. Joey Batey’s vocals, as the bard Jaskier, cover a range of emotions towards a man that he totally wasn’t in love with. I mean if you’re going to sing about yearning to the point of no return and you’ve been telling everyone you’re just friends it’s going to raise a few eyebrows. It’s got the level of depth and emotion Klaine fans wish they got in Glee and it’s in an incredibly heterocentric piece of media.
Billy Bragg - Sexuality
While this doesn’t hit the definition of a queer anthem, Billy Bragg’s 1991 song Sexuality sent an important message of allyship in a frightening time for the queer community. With the spread of AIDs leaving the community a song that emphatically said that people could find common ground regardless of sexuality was a refreshing change. Bragg updated the song in a live performance in 2021 to support trans rights changing the opening verse to include “Just because you’re they, I won’t turn you away. If you stick around, I’m sure that we can find the right pronoun”, a change like can go unnoticed by many but for the people it speaks directly to it’s an important message from a political musician who has kept up with the times as society has progressed.
Britney Spears - Toxic
A large part of Britney Spears’ discography could be classed as queer anthems but nothing goes quite as hard as the 2003 hit Toxic, whether it’s drag queens, ice skaters or other musicians, you’ve seen a performance by someone other than Britney that gives it explicitly queer energy and a performance by the legend herself gives it that extra oomph.
The B-52s - Love Shack
Another song that has had staying power for over 30 years and resonates with the LGBT community for decades is The B-52s Love Shack, aside from being an incredible song to sing or dance to, the music video features some familiar faces that even baby gays would recognise in 2022, such as drag legend RuPaul in the background of a number of shots. Many will have heard it a time or twenty in their lifetime with there being numerous covers of the hit but all are mere imitations to an iconic original.
Kate Bush - Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)
Despite being released in 1985 Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill is popping off in 2022 thanks to the fourth season of Stranger Things, sitting at the top of the charts at the moment it’s hard to escape and its chorus is an earworm. While other songs of Bush’s have more explicitly queer themes like Wow and Kashka From Bagdahd, Running Up That Hill is left open for interpretation and with its recent resurgence many members of the LGBT community have been able to connect with the song.
Orange Caramel - Catallena
There is a special place in LGBT+ culture for songs sung by women, by women, in ways that definitely suggest that there is an underlying subtext attraction hidden. Jolene fits the bill, and so does Catallena, by one of k-pop’s best sub-groups Orange Caramel. With Catallena, it’s about the entire package: the unbelievably catchy hook, the undoubtedly entertaining story (featuring a drag octopus that everyone is in love with), the amazingly maximalist costumes, and the full on commitment to the energy of the song during the live performances.
Whitney Houston - I Wanna Dance with Somebody (With Somebody Who Loves Me)
To try to restrain myself to only one song from Whitney Houston’s jam-packed discography was absolutely a challenge. In the end, I Wanna Dance with Somebody (With Somebody Who Loves Me) won out for me, because it really encapsulates that sense of joy and liberation that I associate with Pride. Woven in the joy is this sense of longing and yearning, an all too common feeling for LGBT+ folk. However interlaced within that longing, is a sense of hope, a push to go out there and find that ‘somebody’ to dance with.
Mariah Carey - Emotions
No queer anthems list would be complete without the whistle notes of Mariah Carey. Let it be known that the gays love a vocal powerhouse. We still have a long way to go in the creation of safe spaces for the LGBT+ community in which they can feel free and comfortable in their own skin. The simplicity and directness of the lyrics in Emotions are what makes it resonate. The languages of subtle gestures, handkerchiefs and hidden meanings are all well and good. It’s basically a gay pastime to look for gay subtext where it shouldn’t be. But sometimes it is nice to just say it like it is.
Diana Ross - I’m Coming Out
Truly a song for the gays, as confirmed by songwriter and producer Nile Rodgers in a Tiktok video last year. We talk a lot about these vocal divas who have had an impact on the LGBT+ community, often unintentionally so. It is really nice to hear that I’m Coming Out is an acknowledgement and celebration of the community that loves her so much.