pride month 2023
[Photos by Wayan Barre, Dante Valesquez, Sammy Ray, Kenneth Cappello]

11 LGBTQ+ artists pick their favorite queer icons

This feature appeared in our 2023 summer issue, which you can buy here.

This Pride Month, Alternative Press is honoring LGBTQ+ icons in music. To celebrate, we asked some of our favorite artists in the community to share with us who they consider a fellow queer icon. Check out what they had to say below.

Read more: LGBTQ+ artists in Nashville are carrying on the city’s folk tradition now more than ever

Big Freedia

“Sylvester is absolutely one of my icons. He is a larger-than-life figure to me, who was one of the first Black LGBTQ+ musicians to be out and who I remember. His music was part of my childhood, and his short career is a major loss!”

Cub Sport’s Tim Nelson

“One of my favorite artists of all time is Frank Ocean. He has such a unique and beautiful vision. You can tell there’s depth and intention behind everything he does, and that’s really inspiring. A queer icon, for sure.” 


“corook’s popularity recently exploded, thanks to their heartwarming song ‘if i were a fish.’ I highly recommend checking out more of their work. A couple of my favorites are ‘the dog’ and ‘i’m not doing well.’ Good music to cry to. Addison Grace is able to write so vulnerably and sing with such a range of emotion, it gives me goosebumps. The passion in his voice and exploration of weird sounds in his work motivates me to experiment with my own range, too.”

Pom Pom Squad

“Rina Sawayama absolutely blows my mind. Hearing her music for the first time was the catalyst for a personal pop music renaissance. She’s so innovative and really pushes genre boundaries in a way that is so unique to her artistry. Also, I would die to spend a day in her wardrobe.”

chloe moriondo

“I admire so many LGBTQ+ artists — I feel like we weave our way into every category, and it’s hard to pick just one to admire. So I’ll name a few: The Japanese House has made me cry since middle school, I love SOPHIE for obviously every reason sonically and visually and Ethel Cain is my current Americana princess.”


“Jake Wesley Rogers is someone I’d absolutely consider an icon. He is so authentically himself, with a voice that is truly unmatched. I appreciate his honesty in his lyricism and his bright and colorful sense of fashion. Looking at someone like Jake makes me want to take more risks and use my voice to its highest potential.” 


“My personal queer icon is Rina Sawayama. She’s as iconic as they come and endlessly inspiring to me as a fellow queer Asian woman. Growing up, it would have changed my life to be able to see or hear music from someone like her. It would have helped me feel so much more comfortable in my identity, but I’m also just thankful that I get to adore her as an adult. ‘This Hell’ is the bop of the century.”

Maude Latour

“I will always love Janelle Monae with my whole heart. She’s done her own thing, and it just doesn’t get better than her. The music is too good. I’m also thinking about my awesome guitarist Max Talay, who makes beautiful music and is writing his heart into beautiful songs.”


“There are a lot of aspects to Boyish’s music that draw me in. Lyrically, it’s refreshing to hear people talk about the queer experience. Their production, especially on their song ‘Legs,’ is refreshing, but also nostalgic-sounding for me. I linked with them in New York, and they’re the type of people that I think makes the NYC music scene great.”

Meet Me @ The Altar

“Hayley Kiyoko was one of the first artists we got to witness create such a loving safe space for LGBTQ+ folks in the music space. From first-hand experience, her show can be a life-changing experience, and we appreciate all the work she’s done for the community.”

Hand Habits

“El Kempner of Palehound is one of my favorite guitarists and songwriters. They write these deeply personal yet relatable songs that can live as anthems or, when performed solo, can feel like what I imagine reading someone’s journal or private text message threads would feel like. They’re deeply talented as a storyteller from a queer perspective, harmonizing the pain of being out of the closet, with the joy of not hiding yourself from the world.”