However you identify on the LGBTQ spectrum, we see you. Whether you know your identity deep in your bones and exude it with pride, still searching for it minute-to-minute or feel it changes as you wake up each morning, we see you.
On National Coming Out Day, a day that’s made to own who you are, we’re here. That all being said, here are 10 songs by 10 artists on the LGBTQ spectrum that are sure to make you feel out, proud and heard every day of the year.
Panic! At The Disco – “Girls/Girls/Boys”
In case you couldn’t tell by the multi-colored hearts swarming the arenas on P!ATD’s last tour, “Girls/Girls/Boys” has been widely adopted as a bisexual anthem among Panic! fanatics. Singing about his sexual experimentation and openness about sexuality as a spectrum, Brendon Urie ends each quivering chorus with the strong reminder: “Love is not a choice.” [MH]
BROCKHAMPTON – “JUNKY”
Self-identifying as the “best boy band since One Direction,” BROCKHAMPTON are a music collective who transcend a label as lazy as “boy band.” Made up of 14 members, BROCKHAMPTON explore racism, sexism, homophobia and every intersection in-between. Almost any track from the group’s past three albums could count as a song about having pride in who you are, but rapper Kevin Abstract’s opening verse in “JUNKY” tackles every issue with clarity, wit and his trademark snark. Move over, Harry Styles. [MH]
Years & Years – “Sanctify”
U.K. synth-pop trio Years & Years attracted the universe’s attention with 2015’s hit single, “King,” and the world hasn’t fallen out of love with them since. Gay frontman Olly Alexander pens emotive, heart-wrenching lyrics that Pete Wentz would be proud of, while having the a performance pizzazz befitting Lady Gaga—complete with bedazzled outfits and ethereal backup dancers. In “Sanctify,” Alexander speaks directly to a lover who has yet to come to terms with his sexuality. With a simple croon, he sings, “Sanctify the love that you crave/Oh and I won’t, and I won’t, and I won’t be ashamed.” [MH]
Halsey – “Strangers ft. Lauren Jauregui”
Halsey has long brought representation to the wanting pop sphere. As a bisexual woman, she wrote “Strangers” about ambiguity in a lesbian almost-relationship. After deciding to make the track a duet and shopping around for possible singers, Halsey proclaimed to her label, “I’m not putting an artist on this song unless they’re fucking gay.” How’s that for visibility? Former Fifth Harmony member Lauren Jauregui, who came out as bisexual in 2016, was happy to lend her pipes, making for a sultry, earnest pop song. [MH]
Trash Boat – “How Selfish I Seem”
Bringing a queer edge to melodic hardcore, Trash Boat frontman Tobi Duncan has identified himself as being attracted to people “across the gender spectrum.” Labels aside, Duncan spends most of their 2016 debut full-length exploring the topics of identity, forgiveness and existentialism. In the aggressive single “How Selfish I Seem,” he refers to a romantic relationship with both he and she pronouns, contemplating how he can “make putting you first second nature.” [KC]
Like Pacific – “Distant”
Like Pacific frontman Jordan Black doesn’t just have the best Twitter handle (you can find him via @hotgayfather)—he also is waving the out flag for pop punk. In a section of the scene that can often err on the side of heteronormative breakup lyrics, Black and co. focus on finding deeper ways to explore relationships and the human experience. Don’t worry, they bring the angst, hooks and breakdowns just as hard. [MH]
A.W. – “Who We Are”
A.W. came out as non-binary in 2017 and has continued to be an open advocate for trans rights and visibility. “I’m open about my own experience because I want queer kids to see more good stories,” A.W. wrote in a recent Facebook post. “It wasn’t until these last few years that I learned I could potentially be out, proud, happy, successful, lovable, worthy, valid… mostly thanks to others who have chosen to be visible themselves. So I choose to stand up and be counted.” They bring these concepts home in the upbeat anthem “Who We Are,” which also happens to be featured as the intro music to Cameron Esposito’s LGBTQ-centered podcast Queery. [MH]
PVRIS – “Holy”
Since PVRIS exploded onto our radar with their 2014 label debut White Noise, frontwoman Lynn Gunn has been vocal and proud about being a lesbian in today’s climate, especially in this straight-dominant scene. “Holy,” one of the stripped-back cuts from the record, bitterly calls out religious hypocrisy from the more conservative who might insist that LGBTQ+ folks are going to hell. “You’re shallow and empty and filled with regret/I think that chest must be heavy from that cross on your neck,” Gunn sneers, challenging whether the so-called “morality” of the homophobes of the world is quite so innocent after all. [KC]
Tegan And Sara – “Boyfriend”
The classic sibling duo of Tegan and Sara Quin, created many a baby lesbian’s first favorite gay record (cut to this preteen writer secretly jamming to “Walking With A Ghost”). The twins have continued to deliver that sweet content across their prolific career—perhaps most acutely on “Boyfriend,” the first single from their eighth album Love You To Death. The song may as well have been written by this writer the first time she fell for a straight girl: The lament of “You call me up like you want your best friend/You turn me on like you want your boyfriend/But I don’t wanna be your secret anymore” might ring a little too true for some of us, but the synth-pop backing shifts the song from downer to anthem. [KC]
Against Me! – “True Trans Soul Rebel”
If there was ever a time that Against Me! frontwoman Laura Jane Grace was afraid to be herself, you would never know it from the incredible figure she has become for transgender folks since she came out in 2012. But “True Trans Soul Rebel” articulates that fear and inner discord, as Grace asks, “Does God bless your transsexual heart?” Perhaps this song is too obvious a choice for a pride playlist, but no other track more painfully and powerfully confronts the turmoil of making the sometimes sacrificial, but always necessary choice to live your truth. [KC]
This list previously appeared in AP 358 with Adore Delano on the cover.