OUTober is here, and that means a celebration of self-discovery, pride, love and music.
The month-long celebration of LGBTQ culture is primarily centered around National Coming Out day on Monday, Oct. 11, and there’s no better opportunity to have some queer artists on repeat for the next few weeks.
The music industry has seen its ups and downs regarding representation of LGBTQ artists. Often being riddled with negative stereotypes, queer artists have come a long way since Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” and Rita Ora’s “Girls.”
Although both songs may seem to represent the LGBTQ community, they were made in poor taste and hide a toxic mindset that hyper-sexualizes lesbians.
“The songs both fetishize lesbian romance for the sake of commodifying and capitalizing upon posturing with queer identities while escaping the real material consequences faced by the most marginalized of our community,” Sky Na, who serves as the Vice President of the Queers and Allies organization on campus, said.
Although representation of LGBTQ+ in the music industry has generally improved, Na says it has also gone backwards.
“Diversity for diversity’s sake has led to tokenization and problematic glorification in media,” Na said. “This can be seen in musical artists such as Jeffree Star and Melanie Martinez.”
Artists and companies who view LGBTQ+ communities as an avenue for business instead of representing a group of people does much more harm than good, as it simply reinforces negative stereotypes and panders to a group of people for the sake of pandering rather than caring about the issue.
Nevertheless, there are artists out there who speak about their sexuality and orientation with positivity, hoping to inspire someone who may be struggling with their identity to come out and love themself and whoever they wish.
Here are five of my personal favorites:
Holland is a South Korean artist who came out in an infamously homophobic country. Without a company willing to sign him due to his orientation, Holland was forced to crowdfund his mini-album.
Debuting with the single “Neverland,” Holland named himself after the country that first legalized same-sex marriage. As of right now, “Neverland” has 14 million views. Despite that, Holland is still not signed to any entertainment company and is forced to release his music sporadically.
Holland’s music is characterized by slow, melodic beats with his soft but powerful voice. His tracks “Neverland” and “I’m So Afraid” are among my favorites.
Without many resources or the proper training expected of a K-pop idol, what Holland has already achieved is nothing short of amazing as is fighting hard to make sure his voice is heard in an otherwise silent country.
An Asian American from California, mxmtoon and her signature ukulele are a duo you’d seldom forget after hearing her beautiful tracks. Slow and chill beats reminiscent of lo-fi combined with her poignant voice and simple vibes makes her a great addition to any playlist.
Her songs “prom dress” and “unspoken words” are some of my favorites. mxmtoon is very down to earth and intimate with her fanbase, calling them her besties and even posts tutorials on her YouTube channel teaching them how to play her songs. She has an incredibly endearing girl-next-door energy and one of the best artists to listen to on a chill Sunday afternoon.
- Hayley Kiyoko
Hayley Kiyoko is an actress turned artist and LGBTQ advocate. Kiyoko’s music is focused around helping her fans find themselves and come to terms with their identity, and sings about the potential struggles and depression that others may face based on her experiences.
Kiyoko often posts fun little shorts on her YouTube channel and makes memes, and her personality combined with her beautiful heartfelt tracks like “Chance” and “She” makes her hard not to love. It’s no wonder she’s earned her nickname of “Lesbian Jesus.”
With tracks like “Healing” and “All Love,” it’s a mystery how she isn’t bigger than she is. Her mesmerizing music combined with the beautifully directed music videos she puts out are absolutely addicting.
Her album “you ruined new york city for me” is a phenomenal music experience and enough to make someone cry as she sings about heartbreak and love. Her lyrics are deeply personal and her albums have an overarching message and theme. Fans of Taylor Swift or Lorde would be right at home in FLETCHER’s discography.
- Steve Grand
Similar to Holland, Grand is a queer artist in a genre that’s historically been known as homophobic: country. He shot to success with his track “All-American Boy” in 2013, but my personal favorites are “Disciple” and “I’ll be home for Christmas.”
His voice and heart-wrenching lyrics on tracks like “Disciple” which talks about his struggles with religion and his sex life makes him an artist not just to listen to, but to connect to. Grand is great for anyone into ballads as well as country.
These are just some of the best LGBTQ artists in the industry today, and a worthy addition to any playlist.
LGBTQ has come a long way, but it still has a long road ahead of itself. Artists such as Grand, Holland and Lil Nas X are working to break down barriers in homophobic countries and genres. Meanwhile, artists including Kiyoko, FLETCHER and mxmtoon are working to help people find their identity and to love themselves.