There have been many LGBT superstars and divas that have stepped up to the microphone and wowed us all with their voices. Here, we take a look at 35 famous gay singers who have graced us with their music:
1. Freddie Mercury
Queen frontman and rock and roll legend Freddie Mercury has given the world classic tunes like “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Killer Queen.” Throughout the 70s and 80s, Mercury’s voice was prominent on every rock radio station and he filled arenas with his fantastic performances. While he kept much of his personal life private, Mercury has been an icon for the gay community for decades, though he sadly died from HIV/AIDS in 1991.
2. Rob Halford
The Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford has been one of the defining voices in the genre of heavy metal. Halford came out as gay in an MTV interview in 1998, calling it a “wonderful day for me.” Halford’s epic vocals have shaped and inspired countless heavy metal acts to follow, making him one of the most influential gay singers of all time.
3. Elton John
“Captain Fantastic” himself, Sir Elton John is one of the greatest songwriters of the 20th century. With countless hits, like “Tiny Dancer,” “Rocket Man,” and more, John remains a beloved staple of radio and a go-to artist for karaoke night. John came out as bisexual in 1976 at the height of his commercial success and has been a staunch advocate for the LGBT community ever since.
4. Adam Lambert
Adam Lambert rose to fame as the runner-up on American Idol. His second album, Trespassing, made him the first openly gay singer to have an album reach number one on the Billboard 200 charts. When not performing solo, Lambert also fills in as the lead singer with the remaining members of Queen.
5. George Michael
Wham! frontman George Michael is one of the best-selling artists of all time. A superstar of the MTV generation, Michael soared to new heights as a solo artist with his debut hit “Careless Whisper.” Michael has dedicated much of his life to advocacy and philanthropy aimed at helping the LGBT community.
6. Melissa Etheridge
Grammy-award-winning rock singer Melissa Etheridge is best known for her hits such as “I’m the Only One” and “Come to My Window.” Making her way much of her early career playing small venues, including lesbian bars, she came out herself as a lesbian in 1993, months before releasing her platinum album Yes I Am.
7. Sam Smith
“Stay With Me” singer Sam Smith came out in 2014, revealing that their classic hit was inspired by the man that they loved. Since then, Smith has come out as genderqueer and continues to use their powerful voice to wow audiences.
8. Lance Bass
Lance Bass got his start as the bass singer for *NSYNC and has been a prominent star in pop culture ever since. Bass came out in 2006 as gay in a People magazine cover story and continues to play music and act on television and in movies.
9. Dusty Springfield
Mary O’Brien AKA Dusty Springfield was an English singer with a vast repertoire. She reached her peak in the 1960s with hits like “Son of a Preacher Man.” Springfield was worried through much of her career about what her sexuality may do to her music career. In the end, Springfield will be remembered for her powerful voice!
10. Ricky Martin
The “King of Latin Pop,” Ricky Martin came out as gay in 2010. With hits like “Livin’ La Vida Loca,” Martin has long been considered one of the most influential LGBT artists in the world.
11. Barry Manilow
One of the greatest songwriters and singers of all time, Barry Manilow has been a pop star since the 1960s. With six multi-platinum albums, Manilow is one of the most successful musicians of all time. He married his long-time partner in 2014 when California legalized same-sex marriage.
12. Richard O’Brien
Richard O’Brien is most famous for his work writing and performing in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. In particular, he lent himself and his voice to the role of Riff Raff, leading us all down “The Time Warp.” O’Brien identifies as “third sex.”
13. David Bowie
Defining David Bowie is nearly impossible. A man who shape-shifted throughout his career declared he was bisexual in the early 70s, at the peak of his success with Ziggy Stardust. The singer-artist continues to be an inspiring figure for new generations of LGBT folks.
14. Tracy Chapman
“Fast Car” singer Tracy Chapman came to success with her 1987 self-titled debut album, garnering her 6 Grammy awards. While Chapman has never publicly spoken about her sexuality, she dated author Alice Walker in the 90s.
15. Frank Ocean
The Grammy-award-winning singer-songwriter, Frank Ocean, has established himself as a pop music icon throughout the 2010s with albums like Channel Orange and Blonde. In a 2012 open letter, Ocean opened up about his homosexuality.
16. Janelle Monáe
Grammy-award-winning do-it-all superstar Janelle Monáe has wowed audiences with her music and acting work. While early on, Monae shared that she “only dates androids,” and she has identified as nonbinary and pansexual.
17. Janis Joplin
Beloved Woodstock soul singer Janis Joplin has captivated audiences with her powerful vocal talents. With hits like “Piece of My Heart,” Joplin was one of the best to step to the microphone, but sadly, she passed away in 1970 from a heroin overdose.
18. Brandi Carlile
Winner of 18 Grammy Awards and counting, Brandi Carlile is one of the most talented singer-songwriters in the world. From her solo work to her collaboration with the all-female quartet the Highwomen, Carlile continues to amaze audiences and critics alike. She has been open about her homosexuality since 2002.
19. Bessie Smith
The “Empress of The Blues,” only a few singers were bigger in the 1920s and 1930s than Bessie Smith. Her singing has helped to define the modern genres of blues and jazz. Smith was known to have many female sex partners. She remains an icon of Black artistry and a key figure in American music history.
20. Ma Rainey
Dubbed the “Mother of the Blues,” Ma Rainey was one of the most famous singers of the 1920s. With a powerful, majestic voice, Rainey was able to wow any audience that she could get in front of. The lyrics of many of Rainey’s songs pointed to her attraction to women and it was long-rumored that her relationship with Bessie Smith was romantic in nature.
21. Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga is one of the biggest pop superstars of the 21st century. With countless hits, including “Just Dance” and “Born This Way,” her megahits have also been anthems for the LGBT community. She has spoken openly about her bisexuality. In addition to her music, Gaga has proven to be a capable actor with her role in the remake of A Star is Born.
22. Michael Stipe
The lead singer of R.E.M., Michael Stipe has one of the most distinctive voices on the radio. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007, Stipe identifies broadly as queer. Not only is R.E.M. famous for their music, but Stipe has inspired many other prominent singers including Kurt Cobain of Nirvana and Thom Yorke of Radiohead.
23. Miley Cyrus
While she first entered the scene as child star Hannah Montana, Miley Cyrus has proven to be an extraordinary singer and artist throughout her life. Cyrus has identified with pansexuality and being gender fluid and has been a staunch supporter of the LGBT community throughout her career. With her signature raspy voice, Cyrus continues to build on her remarkable career.
24. Lil Nas X
Lil Nas X rose to megastardom with his hit country rap single “Old Town Road.” It became the longest-running number-one chart-topping song since the chart debuted in 1958. Lil Nas X came out publicly in 2019 and the young superstar is only now getting started. After the success of his 2021 album Montero, Lil Nas X is looking ready to give us even more great music soon!
25. Joan Jett
“I Love Rock ‘n Roll” singer Joan Jett is one of rock music’s greatest frontwomen. The certified “Queen of Rock ‘n Roll,” Joan Jett & the Blackhearts were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015. While Jett has never publicly come out, she has had romantic relationships with women and remains an icon for women’s empowerment broadly.
26. Hayley Kiyoko
Singer and actress Hayley Kiyoko is a bonafide superstar. Her debut 2018 album Expectations charted in the United States, Canada, and Australia, and she is only just getting started. Kiyoko has just released her 2nd studio album Panorama and, within her music, she seeks to normalize lesbian love.
27. Tyler, the Creator
Rapper and producer Tyler, the Creator, rose to prominence at the start of the 2010s with his alternative take on hip hop. His sound has only gotten more complex and impressive, winning him the 2020 and 2022 Grammys for Best Rap Album. Tyler has always spoken openly about his sexuality, indicating that he is bisexual.
28. Billie Joe Armstrong
The lead singer of Green Day, Billie Joe Armstrong, came out as bisexual in a 1995 interview. Green Day’s music has dominated the airwaves ever since. With classic albums like Dookie and American Idiot, Armstrong’s voice has defined the sound of a generation.
29. Jason Mraz
Grammy-award-winning “I’m Yours” singer, Jason Mraz, has been one of America’s most successful singer-songwriters since he released his debut album Waiting for My Rocket to Come in 2002. Mraz opened up about his bisexuality in 2018 and has been a long-term ally fighting for LGBT equality.
30. Troye Sivan
The Australian singer-songwriter rose to prominence from the success of YouTube videos and Australian talent competitions. Troye Sivan’s debut studio album Blue Neighborhood placed him on the international airwaves, and his career only continues to ascend. He has been open about being gay since he came out publicly in a YouTube video in 2013.
31. Billy Porter
Star of the stage and screen, Billy Porter won the 2013 Tony for Best Actor in a Musical for his role in Kinky Boots. His vocal abilities were further featured in his award-winning role in the television series Pose. He continues to ascend, winning a Tony for Best Musical as the producer of A Strange Loop. Porter has been an outspoken advocate for LGBT and racial equality.
Fergie rose to stardom as a member of the Black Eyed Peas. She has had great commercial success as a solo artist, with hits including “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” and has also had a successful acting career. She has discussed her bisexuality in interviews.
33. Rufus Wainwright
The son of folk singer Loudon Wainwright III, singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright has kept the family trade going. With 10 studio albums and a prolific body of work, Wainwright has proven to be a musical force throughout his career. Wainwright has been open about his homosexuality since his teenage years. Many will know his voice best for his cover of “Hallelujah” on the Shrek soundtrack.
34. Neil Tennant
Neil Tennant, the lead singer of the Pet Shop Boys, is one of the most successful musicians in British history. With countless singles hitting the charts, including “West End Girls” and “It’s a Sin,” the Pet Shop Boys are often considered the most successful duo in UK music history. Tennant publicly came out as gay in a 1994 interview with British gay lifestyle magazine Attitude.
Mika, born Michael Penniman Jr., jumped to superstardom with his first studio album Life in Cartoon Motion. With iconic tracks like “Grace Kelly,” Mika has gained countless fans across the world. While Mika has never felt comfortable labeling his sexuality publicly, he has reflected on his bi- and pan-sexuality.
As the Head Editor and Writer at Music Grotto, Liam helps write and edit content produced from professional music/media journalists and other contributing writers. He works closely with journalists and other staff to format and publish music content for the Music Grotto website. Liam is also the founding member of Music Grotto and is passionate in disseminating editorial content to its readers.
Liam’s lifelong love for music makes his role at Music Grotto such a rewarding one. He loves researching, writing and editing music content for Music Grotto.