6th November 2023
Music has always found a way to bring people together throughout history. Inherently, queer artists have been an integral part of our community. Finding an important part of ourselves and our experiences in music can be life-changing. It allows us to feel seen in our yearning, our heartbreak, our journeys and our joy. This is a particularly beautiful feeling, especially in times of acceptance and confusion. Everyone will have had their own experiences with queer music, myself included. Jenny by the Studio Killers got me to accept that I had a crush on my female best friend. It helped me to accept that these feelings were okay and normal. Music is an easily accessible format to be taught this.
However, in the world of music, there are inevitably genres we feel personally drawn to and those that we dislike (most often country 😂). Unfortunately for queer music, there is definitely an imbalance. Most popular queer artists are pop/dance music, although that’s not necessarily a bad thing unless you’re looking for queer music whilst simultaneously being a metalhead. Finding the perfect cross-section of genres and queer experiences is harder than expected, so here I have compiled 5 queer musicians who are playing and writing music for the ‘less appreciated genres’.
The LA-based musician Rio Romeo identifies as a non-binary butch lesbian. Their music is reminiscent of being in love, the use of their piano to create a heart-racing atmosphere paired with intricate lyricism makes the listener feel almost dizzy and out of breath with their own love.
Rio Romeo’s website states that their main goal in their artistry is to, “make others feel at ease with their true selves through music”, which is definitely succeeded through songs celebrating butchness, queer love and their own mental illness.
Romeo boasts a voice perfect for the self-proclaimed genre of ‘rotten cabaret’, as they have an almost sentimental voice which is both unique and familiar. Their newest EP Good God! is a fully gender-neutral album of love songs, just in time for valentines day and is sure to charm the hell out of any of those who listen.
The masked Orville Peck is a gay South African country singer (give country a chance) based in Canada. Those who love Brokeback Mountain are sure to fall in love with Peck’s rich voice, singing about falling in love in the Old West.
Peck has a plethora of aching serenades that capture yearning almost perfectly, including Dead of Night (From the 2019 album Pony). The exclusively masked singer also set out to uphold a camp and fun persona. Which turns the whole idea of country music on its head.
He may also be known as the good friend of RuPaul’s Drag Race Icon Trixie Mattel. Another gay country singer, famed for her folk album ‘Two Birds’ (2017). The two collaborated on the track ‘Jackson’ in 2021 and have remained close ever since. The most recent album ‘Bronco’ (2022) is perfect for country lovers and those struggling post-pandemic. The album’s main focus is on identity, letting go of the past and learning to get back out there.
This lesbian artist is no stranger to fame. She opened for Eminem in 2014 and has worked alongside Mac Miller and Tyler the Creator. Her style of alternative R&B and neo-soul complements her second studio album ‘Broken Hearts club’ – initially a collection of love songs about her own girlfriend.
However, the album was actually completed when the couple had broken up, leading to a mix of songs about love and heartbreak. The exploration of desire and the bittersweet and very raw breakup is prevalent in silky ballads like ‘Out Loud’ and more light-hearted songs like ‘Tie the Knot’. Syd has once again captured both the longing for queer love and the raw emotions of a breakup with her tasteful R&B sound.
Marigold is a queer, trans musician and my own personal favourite on this list. They have a history in folk music, with a surrealist and very personal touch. However, their latest EP ‘Sick, Trans, Glorious Moonbeams!’ (2022) is a post-punk revival, with concept-heavy songs. Topics include; gender, womanhood, Moby Dick and even an exploration of the homoerotic relationship between Jesus Christ and Judas Iscariot.
The Single ‘Judas’ brought Marigold fame on her TikTok (@reverent_marigold) and currently holds 180k views. It explores Judas Iscariot, his love and his betrayal and even hints at transness. Those with religious trauma will cling to this song and its almost begging and pleading lyrics.
Marigold’s vocals are raw and heart-wrenching, which elevates their songs to just about divine. The themes of the EP including religion, politics and even the first cat in space, will be increasingly successful amongst most queer people.
The self-proclaimed ‘gay WW1’ girl will be a hit for any history buffs. Her love of the Edwardian era is reflected in her music, which seeps in sorrowful longing. Briar takes a different approach in their creation of music. Her concept albums are focused around her own original characters, with a storyline set in the midst of World War 1.
The horrors of the war are seen in songs such as ‘1917’ and ‘Landmine’, which sets the stage for lovers William and Bennet, who meet as soldiers and carry out a forbidden romance in the trenches. Whereas soft yearning songs like ‘Story of a girl’ and ‘She used to go dancing’ introduce us to the whirlwind romance between Violet (our protagonist) and Birdie.
Briar’s EP ‘The Violet Memoir’ is the source material for this story. However, her TikTok (@edwardianeven) also focuses on the plot and characters. This unique format of music is a thrilling exploration of queer love, acceptance and the horrors of war. This is a definite recommendation for lovers of period pieces.
Queer artists were celebrated across the UK in February, for LBGT History Month. You can find further articles on LGBT issues across our site here.