Music reaches millions of people worldwide, and when an artist is brave enough to step forward and include their orientation or gender identity in their music, it gives a voice to those who don’t have that public stage. Transgender artists such as Laura Jane Grace of Against Me! and bisexual singer Lowell are just two of the artists who are creating LGBT-oriented music for everyone to enjoy.
Pop and dance music are where a lot of artists have made a stand as being outside the norm, but as tolerance increases, more artists in other musical scenes are coming forward as transgender and gay or lesbian. Ty Herndon and Billy Gilman, both country stars, came out as gay men and continue to produce music. In a traditionally conservative musical genre, they’re making huge strides.
The difficulties in finding a niche are also part of what a musician includes in their work. Kele Okereke left post-punk and the rock music scene in order to find more acceptance as a gay black man in his industry. Not only does this draw attention to the change still needed in one aspect of the music industry, but it highlights the changes being made elsewhere.
Speaking Out Through Music
Thomas Neuwirth, also known as Conchita Wurst, has used her success in the public eye to speak out for gay individuals while Azealia Banks offers a different success story to people trying to live without judgement. With her willingness to publicly say what many others fear to, she’s become an inspirational figure, especially in her refusal to conform to expected stereotypes.
Other artists address the experience of gay and lesbian people with their songs, like Sam Smith. His album In the Lonely Hour focuses mainly on unrequited love, and specifically from one man to another. Mary Lambert released a song called “She Keeps Me Strong” that focuses on her life as a lesbian with a Christian upbringing.
With the discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity coming further into the public eye, musicians are more willing to open up about what they might’ve been keeping secret for years. And this not only makes for a more tolerant society where people feel safe, but it creates a wider expression of the human experience.