With this dry, wry, bass-driven paean to sexual outlaws from his 1972 album, Transformer, Reed cemented his street cred as the epitome of New York cool. The subjects of his seen-it-all narration are five colorful characters from the crowd that Andy Warhol had declared, by fiat, “superstars”: early trans icons Holly Woodlawn, Candy Darling and Jackie Curtis, plus a couple of very irregular Joes (Dallesandro and Campbell). The song became a top-20 hit (though the radio edit scrubbed out a reference to backroom blow jobs), and helped raise the voltage bar on what was considered shocking.—Adam Feldman
ABBA may be synonymous with ’70s soft rock, but this galloping disco anthem proved the Swedes could also turn up the tempo.
First Indian Song/Music Video celebrating lesbian love was produced in Shillong and was in Khasi.
No one has ever campaigned so openly for a gay fan base as Lady Gaga, and her 2011 hit “Born This Way” was her most obvious gift to our demographic. The song has its detractors—it’s basically a rewrite of Madonna’s “Express Yourself,” it’s got some questionable lyrics (“Orient”? Really?), and the concept of being “born” gay is kind of irrelevant and unsubtle. Still, it’s hard not to be moved by its message of self-acceptance, and no other song composed in recent decades sounds better blaring from a float in a Gay Pride parade—and that’s all you can really ask from a great Pride anthem.—Ethan LaCroix
And then our Village Family
And friendship could always be a code.
Yes, this song is about that kind of “coming out.” Chic’s Nile Rodgers was inspired to write this funky 1980 gem for Diana Ross after seeing multiple drag queens dressed as the iconic singer at a gay disco in New York. For her part, Ross was in the process of extracting herself from her long relationship with Motown when “I’m Coming Out” arrived on the charts, giving the song additional significance for the music legend. Today, Ross still opens her shows with “I’m Coming Out,” and the song remains a quintessential anthem of liberation—gay or otherwise.—
Singer Laura Jane Grace has always been a revolutionary—see songs like “Baby I’m an Anarchist”—but nothing rebelled as deeply against the heteropatriarchal terrain of the punk music mainstream than her explorations of coming out as a trans woman on her pivotal album Transgender Dysphoria Blues. This song isn’t a feel-good tune—it’s a glaring middle finger to those that keep you from claiming and presenting your authentic self. Bash back and scream along: “I want to piss on the walls of your house.”
Four years before Ellen declared, “Yep, I’m Gay,” on the cover of Time, Melissa Etheridge titled her 1993 album Yes I Am after publicly coming out as a lesbian at an inaugural event for Bill Clinton. The rocker won a Grammy for this single, an appeal to a lover that’s steeped in tumult and possible secrecy. The terrific bridge—”I don’t care what they think, I don’t care what they say / What do they know about this love anyway”—seemed almost tailor-made to inspire gay listeners to come out with confidence.—Kris Vire
For any guy who’s ever wanted to be (or sleep with) a cowboy, cop or leather-clad biker, the Village People reign supreme as gay-anthem chart toppers. Songs like “Macho Man,” “Go West,” “Cruisin'” and “In the Navy” are full of double entendres, and 1978’s “Y.M.C.A.”—which became one of the most popular singles of the 1970s—is no different. In fact, the Young Men’s Christian Association was so appalled at the song’s implications that it threatened to sue, until it noticed that membership had significantly increased in the wake of the tune’s success. Turns out any press is good press—eh, boys?—Kate Wertheimer
We could’ve gone with a number of Gossip tracks; fiery frontwoman Beth Ditto has said the group’s later breakthrough hit “Standing in the Way of Control” was penned as a reaction to President Bush’s endorsement during the 2004 election cycle of a constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage, after all. But there’s something about the casual confidence with which the self-described “fat, feminist lesbian from Arkansas” introduces herself in this lo-fi come-on from the band’s 2000 debut: “When I’m right, I’ll say I’m right.”—Kris Vire
The openly gay English trio Bronski Beat was a pioneer in integrating explicit LGBT-activist messages into its music, including this 1984 debut hit. Frontman Jimmy Somerville, in a sensitive falsetto, sings about a lad who flees hometown bullying—“Run away, turn away” is the recurring refrain—against a steady, reassuringly numb background of rhythm and synthesizer. The song takes the pain of rejection and makes it danceable.—Adam Feldman
It starts off slowly, shrouded in fear; then the beat kicks in, the song builds in confidence, and by the end, now backed by a string section, it’s a full-bore disco anthem of self-assurance. On its beautiful face, Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” is about a woman getting over the guy who done her wrong; but in 1978, as gay liberation was gathering steam in heated nightclubs around the world, it also played like an declaration of hard-won pride (“I used to cry / But now I hold my head up high”) and independence from the hetero norm (“I’m not that chained-up little person still in love with you”). In the 1980s, when AIDS wiped out tens of thousands of those celebrants, the song took on new layers of resonance. Today “I Will Survive” carries all of that baggage, and lifts it up along with the spirits of anyone who hears its message. Did you think we’d crumble? Did you think we’d lay down and die? Think again. We’re going to dance.—Adam Feldman
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