The LGBTQ community has been expressing itself in music since the days of underground gay clubs. These days, society has come a long way, and you can now use a top-quality queer anthem for your next pride event.
1. True Colors — Cyndi Lauper
Cyndi Lauper has long been an ally to the LGBTQ community, and her song “True Colors” is legendary. The lyrics include the poignant lines: “And I see your true colors… And that’s why I love you, So don’t be afraid to let them show… True colors are beautiful (they’re beautiful), Like a rainbow.”
2. Queen — Perfume Genius
“Queen” is an 80s-inspired, tongue-in-cheek gay anthem. It pokes fun at the homophobic argument that the LGBTQ community is threatening traditional family values, especially the line “No family is safe, When I sashay.” The upbeat song is infectiously danceable.
3. Go West — Pet Shop Boys
Recorded at the height of the AIDS crisis, “Go West” is a song that combines grief and hope in one stunning track. The singer promises that one day, he will escape to “the West.” The lyrics are perhaps a nod to San Francisco, which was known as a safe haven for gays and lesbians at the time.
4. People Like Us — Kelly Clarkson
Kelly Clarkson is straight, but she’s long considered herself an ally of the queer community. Her song “People Like Us” is a popular gay anthem with lines that seem to encourage coming out and being true to yourself.
5. Brave — Sara Bareilles
Sara Bareilles wrote “Brave” for a friend who was afraid to come out to their family and friends. The upbeat song encourages everyone to find the courage to be true to themselves and speak openly. With Bareilles’ signature powerhouse vocals, it’s impossible not to feel empowered by this song.
6. Dancing Queen — ABBA
It’s hard to say how exactly the classic ABBA song became synonymous with the queer community. It probably has something to do with the use of the word “queen,” which many gay men unapologetically adopted for themselves. When the song was released in 1976, it became an instant hit in gay bars and clubs.
7. HIM — Sam Smith
Sam Smith hasn’t been shy about their sexuality or gender identity. This melancholy piano song has the same vibes as the singer’s earlier songs while being more explicitly about their experience as queer people. Anyone who can relate will be moved to tears by this emotional ballad.
8. Smalltown Boy — Bronski Beat
“Smalltown Boy” by Bronski Beat came out in 1984, at a time when many LGBTQ songs were still cloaked in metaphor. This tune doesn’t shy away from the content, telling the story of a boy from a small town who flees to escape homophobia and abuse. Pioneering for its time, the tune is heavy on synth and percussion for a dance song that is quintessentially 80s.
9. Let It Go — from Frozen
When Frozen was released in 2013, the parallels between the lyrics of “Let It Go” and the experience of coming out weren’t lost on people. Queen Elsa has long been speculated to be queer. Though Disney hasn’t confirmed the theories, her struggle with feeling out of place and subsequently accepting who she is made “Let It Go” a power anthem for the LGBTQ community.
10. YMCA — Village People
Everyone knows the infectiously catchy “YMCA” song and dance. The Village People’s 1979 tune made them famous and brought disco to the worldwide stage. The song—and the band’s whole shtick—was heavily coded, with in-your-face uber-manly stereotypes. But the lyrics have a coy reference to homosexual hookups in gyms, which went over many people’s heads.
11. Born This Way — Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga’s 2011 song “Born This Way” is an unapologetic anthem of support for the LGBTQ community. She herself is bisexual and hasn’t been shy about it. It has drawn some valid criticisms, but its overall message of acceptance and empowerment is hard to resist, making it a staple for Pride events of all kinds.
12. Girls/Girls/Boys — Panic! At The Disco
Panic! At The Disco frontman Brendan Urie came out as pansexual in 2018. But long before his public announcement, he released the “Girls/Girls/Boys” in 2013. The lyrics include the lines “Girls love girls and boys… And love is not a choice.” Put so simply, it’s easy to see why this song became a hit.
13. Rain On Me — Ariana Grande And Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga has been a queer icon for many years, and her duet “Rain On Me” with Ariana Grande gained immediate traction in the LGBTQ community. People loved the lyrics “Gotta live my truth, not keep it bottled in, So I don’t lose my mind.”
14. I Will Survive — Gloria Gaynor
Gloria Gaynor’s 1978 hit is about a woman declaring her resilience after the breakup of a heterosexual relationship. But it is easy to see why the punchy disco song was quickly adopted by the queer community. The lyrics are a fearless refusal to lay down and give up—especially poignant considering it was released in the midst of the AIDS epidemic.
15. I Know a Place — MUNA
“I Know A Place” is an emotional tribute to the queer community, recorded after the 2016 shooting at The Pulse club in Orlando. The song imagines a place where people can be safe and accepted no matter how they identify—a place that tragically doesn’t always exist in our world.
16. Firework — Katy Perry
Katy Perry has had a shaky reputation in the queer community. Her early songs “Ur So Gay” and “I Kissed A Girl” were seen as homophobic or fake. But her attitude seems to have changed over the years, and “Firework” now seems to be a go-to anthem for every Pride event. It seems that’s proof that people can change.
17. Call Your Girlfriend — Robyn
“Call Your Girlfriend” depicts the experience of queer breakups—something that’s not always a topic in pop music. The track was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording and is considered a lesbian pop classic.
18. Strangers — Halsey Featuring Lauren Jauregui
Halsey has never shied away from discussing their gender and sexuality. “Strangers” is a synth-heavy pop duet with Lauren Jauregui. Both singers are openly bisexual and sang the tune as a love song; however, Halsey said it was more specifically an ode for the queer community.
19. Heavy Cross — Gossip
“Heavy Cross” is an ambiguous song about trying to carry burdens alone. Its meaning becomes more clear when you know more about Beth Ditto, the former frontwoman of Gossip; she has described herself as a “fat, feminist lesbian from Arkansas.”
20. Come to my Window — Melissa Etheridge
Melissa Etheridge was ahead of her time when she came out publicly in 1993—at a presidential event for Bill Clinton, no less. “Come To My Window” was included on her album of the same year, entitled Yes I Am. The song is a tribute to a secret lover and a defiant declaration about not caring what people think.
21. Girls Like Girls — Hayley Kiyoko
Hayley Kiyoko became an instant gay icon with her first single “Girls Like Girls,” released in 2015. The lyrics point out that queer people have always existed, even though they haven’t always been accepted: “Girls like girls like boys do, nothing new.”
22. Make Me Feel — Janelle Monáe
Janelle Monáe has never been shy about her gender identity or sexuality. Though she still uses she/her pronouns, the singer has said that she is pansexual and non-binary. Her song “Make Me Feel” is a funk-inspired ode to queer love. Prince himself contributed to the album’s sounds, and his influence is evident in the throwback vibe.
23. Supermodel (You Better Work) — RuPaul
RuPaul has been a pioneer of queer representation since long before it was widely accepted. She released “Supermodel (You Better Work)” back in 1992, and it remains iconic to this day. It is hard to resist the high-energy beat and attitude of this danceable (and quotable) track.
24. Everyone is Gay — A Great Big World
“Everyone Is Gay” is an ultra-upbeat powerhouse song that encourages everyone to be their true self, with no apologies offered. “What if the world stops spinning tomorrow? We can’t keep running from who we are.”
25. Got to be Real — Cheryl Lynn
This throwback disco song has become irrevocably entwined with the LGBTQ community. It even got a shoutout in Will & Grace. With poignant lyrics set to a high-energy dance beat, it’s easy to see why it become so iconic.
26. Vogue — Madonna
Madonna has been considered a queer ally since the earliest parts of her career. Though straight herself, the pop icon is known for her advocacy. “Vogue,” released in 1990, was an ultra-danceable pop hit that felt particularly empowering in the midst of the AIDS epidemic.
27. Finally — CeCe Peniston
“Finally” was released in 1991 but became iconic when it was featured on the soundtrack of The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert. After serving as a dance track to men in drag, the song was officially adopted as a queer anthem, and it is still well-known to this day.
28. Black Me Out — Against Me!
Some pride songs are about celebrating self-acceptance, while others deal with more complex or negative emotions. Trans singer Laura Jane Grace pours out her rage in “Black Me Out,” a defiant tirade against the people who oppressed and silenced the LGBTQ community.
29. Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover — Sophie B. Hawkins
Sophie B. Hawkins’ 1992 track is openly sensual and unabashedly queer. She identifies as omnisexual, and her songs paved the way to wider acceptance at the turn of the 21st century. MTV demanded a censored version of her music video before agreeing to air it.
30. A Little Respect — Erasure
Erasure aimed to humanize queer people in the eyes of the wider world, a tall order in the late 80s. While many gay anthems are open songs of self-acceptance or defiance, this quieter song is a simple request for all that the queer community has ever wanted from the wider world.
31. I’m Coming Out — Diana Ross
The gay parallels aren’t exactly subtle in Diana Ross’s 1980 track “I’m Coming Out.” In fact, there was some concern that the song would tank her career at the time. Instead, it became one of her most famous singles—and gained particular popularity among her gay fanbase.
32. Freedom! ‘90 — George Michael
George Michael has been a gay icon for many years, but one of his most famous queer anthems came out long before he did. The lyrics depict the intense soul-searching and ultimate self-acceptance the singer experienced: “I think there’s something you should know, I think it’s time I told you so, There’s something deep inside of me, There’s someone else I’ve got to be.”
33. It’s Raining Men — The Weather Girls
“It’s Raining Men” might be sung by two women, but the heavy subtext is definitely there. It’s hard to miss that this sexually-charged dance anthem has big queer vibes, despite lines that try to steer it in a “straighter” direction.
34. All The Lovers — Kylie Minogue
Kylie Minogue has become a gay icon thanks to her open allyship and longtime advocacy for the LGBTQ community. Her ultra-danceable music has garnered her an extensive queer fanbase, and Minogue didn’t hesitate to embrace it. “All The Lovers” might be one of her most overtly pansexual songs.
35. Curious — Hayley Kiyoko
Hayley Kiyoko is considered one of the best queer icons of modern music. The singer has always been open about her experiences in same-sex relationships. “Curious” is a song about watching an ex get into a relationship with a man and feeling conflicted about their past.
36. I Am Her — Shea Diamond
Shea Diamond is a well-known transgender musician and activist. Her soulful 2018 track “I Am Her” is a reflection on her feelings of being an outcast in society but ends with a statement of acceptance about who she is.
37. MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name) — Lil Nas X
Lil Nas X burst onto the pop music scene and instantly made history. The singer has fully embraced his identity as a queer person of color, and he isn’t shy about it. If anything, he seems to enjoy pushing back against the outcry. “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)” made history for its unabashed attitude and complex symbolism.
38. Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now) — C+C Music Factory
This electropop dance song from 1990 has become so synonymous with the LGBTQ community that it even earned a parody on The Simpsons. It might have been around for decades, but it is still an utterly catchy hit that will get everyone on the dance floor.
39. Rebel Girl — Bikini Kill
For being released in 1992, “Rebel Girl” was pretty progressive. The lyrics are openly queer, with lines such as “In her kiss, I taste the revolution.” But they’re also about struggling with feelings of same-sex attraction and not knowing whether they’re romantic or platonic.
40. You Need to Calm Down — Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift has been a queer ally for many years, but “You Need To Calm Down” is her first song that expresses it so openly. The lyrics are directed at homophobes in an energetic, upbeat dance tune that asks people to just live and let live.
41. Closer — Tegan and Sara
Tegan and Sara are a Canadian pop duo consisting of two sisters, both of whom are openly gay. “Closer” is a dedication not just to same-sex lovers but also queer friends. The sisters have described the song as an ode to their teenage years when they were coming to terms with their sexuality.
42. Same Love — Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert
The same year he dropped “Thrift Shop,” Macklemore was collaborating with Ryan Lewis and Mary Lambert on “Same Love.” This song is a challenge to society’s preconceptions of gender roles and an ode to acceptance for the queer community.
43. LGBT — Lowell
Lowell’s song “LGBT” is a message to all the people who want society to stay the same. The lyrics point out that part of homophobia is people resisting change because it makes them feel uncomfortable.
44. Walk on The Wild Side — Lou Reed
“Walk On The Wild Side” was released in 1972 and paved the way for more openness about queer sexuality in pop culture. It was considered pretty shocking for the time and went through extensive radio edits. None of this kept the song from climbing to the Top 20.
45. Raining Glitter — Kylie Minogue
Kylie Minogue has a huge queer fanbase, and she’s been a proud ally for many years. “Raining Glitter” doesn’t explicitly mention the LGBTQ community, but the subtext is definitely there. This is one song that is always popular at gay clubs.
46. Bloom — Troye Sivan
“Bloom” is a song about gay sex, cheekily coded in floral analogies. Troye Sivan has jokingly insisted that it really is about flowers, though elsewhere, he’s been more open about the true meaning behind the lyrics.
47. Let’s Have a Kiki — Scissor Sisters
“Let’s Have A Kiki” was ultra popular when it was released in 2012. The title’s slang would be familiar to most queer people but was instrumental in spreading to term to the wider world. With its unique lyrics and pumping techno rhythm, it’s no wonder this tune spread far and wide.
48. Be Yourself — Taylor Bennett Featuring Bianca Shaw
“Be Yourself” tells you what it’s all about right from the title. The song doesn’t shy away from using strong language, including a few slurs, so you won’t hear it played in public often. But it remains an unapologetic message of encouragement to all marginalized communities, especially the LGBTQ community.
49. Somewhere Over The Rainbow — Judy Garland
Everybody knows the song “Somewhere Over The Rainbow,” but it developed a special place in the gay community. As early as the 40s, the underground gay scene in Chicago used the code “friend of Dorothy” to refer to a gay man. This helped them evade law enforcement, as homosexuality was still criminalized at the time.
50. LGBT — CupcakKe
This 2016 hip hop song is an in-your-face declaration of LGBTQ acceptance. It makes line-by-line shoutouts to gays, lesbians, and bisexuals and frankly says, “Fuck out of my way when you see me, I’m rollin’ with the LGBT.” Now, that’s allyship.
51. I Want to Break Free — Queen
Freddie Mercury was a queer icon, openly bisexual at a time when many people were still in the closet. So, it is fitting that his song “I Want To Break Free” became known as a gay anthem about accepting who you are. The members of Queen appeared in the music video dressed in drag in another open statement about LGBTQ acceptance.
52. Honey — Kehlani
“Honey” makes no bones about its queerness; it’s a sweet ballad to a lover but doesn’t shy away from describing “All the pretty girls in the world.” Singer Kehlani is openly queer, having stated that they are non-binary and pansexual and prefer they/them pronouns.
53. Beautiful — Christina Aguilera
“Beautiful” isn’t explicitly about the LGBTQ community, but the lyrics are a ballad of acceptance and love. The music video leaves no doubt that it is intended to be a love song for people of all genders and sexual orientations, depicting two men kissing and a person dressing in drag.
54. You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) — Sylvester
Sylvester was one of the earliest gay icons, being open about his sexuality long before it was widely accepted. His stunning voice was never on better display than in the song “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real).” The singer tragically died in 1988 from complications of AIDS.
55. Take Me I’m Yours — Jobriath
Released in 1973, Jobriath’s “Take Me I’m Yours” was considered too shocking for the general public. He wasn’t permitted to play it on live television performances at the time, but that didn’t stop him from making major inroads as an openly gay man signed by a major label.
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.