Music videos, for many, have served as a creative escape; an art form that allows an audience to absorb the creative visuals of their favorite song or album. Over the years, LGBTQ + listeners have turned to instant classics. From Britney Spears’ Toxic to Beyonce’s Single Ladies, we’ve become passionately attached to an art form they have an affinity with. Millennials, often white cis gay men, found solace in P! Nk, Shania Twain and Kelly Clarkson by delivering lyrics that made their homosexuality stronger.
This does not mean that LGBTQ + artists did not exist or that their artist was not valued. The mark left by Freddie Mercury and David Bowie can only be reinvented. The opening sequence of I Want To Break Free has been parodied, imitated and paid homage many times. Bowie’s DJ and Boys Keep Swinging have also been the subject of allusions to the singer’s fluid identity. The singer’s queer character, often described as an alter ego, Ziggy Stardust, has taken the nation by storm. Likewise, artists such as George Michael, Boy George and Pet Shop Boys have left their mark on the music world, especially in videos. From genre-defying drag outfits to the release of music inspired by the gay dance club scene, these musicians have redefined mainstream music.
However, sometimes there was a sort of creative dissonance when it came to finding artists that we could really see ourselves in. artists (alongside the emblematic past) recreate visibility in an unprecedented way. GAY TIMES has selected 10 of our favorite music videos that have shaped the modern image of queer music. These videos (and artists) are shameless in their art and that’s how it should be. So, from Raveena to Hayley Kiyoko, you can check out our list of game-changing LGBTQ + artists below.
MUNA – Chiffon
A modern day addicting hit, Silk Chiffon is the pop earworm that not everyone has been able to shake off. This recently released music video covers the cult movie But I’m a Cheerleader (1999) which sees the band parody their conversion therapy-inspired plot. Believe us, it’s not as dark as it looks! The reimagined clip sees the group celebrating the song’s uplifting lyrics and shameless homosexuality. A playful queer anthem that can heal any bad day, this iconic single, starring no less than Phoebe Bridgers, is here to stay.
Rina Sawayama – Bad Friend
A pioneer in its own right, Rina Sawayam’s self-titled second album, Sawayama, is a nuanced compilation of tracks addressing identity. The singer doesn’t stray from big topics or even bigger lyrics. The Bad Friend music video proves it exactly. The British-nominated artist takes to male dating for the video as we watch how the toxic dynamic between two men unfolds in a Japanese bar. A short portrayal of how masculinity can translate into friendship and social contexts, Sawayama offers an effortless image of how Bad Friend represents much more than a platonic breaking banger.
Genius Perfume – Queen
Seattle-based pop artist Mike Hadreas aka Perfume Genius steals the show in his music video for Queen. The track, taken from her third studio album, Too Bright, is a confident, pop-up reply to the hate launched against the LGBTQ + community. Dressed in a flamboyant fashion, Hadreas fearlessly explores the expression of gender, image and unfiltered homosexuality. If you haven’t seen it already, the Queen music video is a must-see.
Lil Nas X – Call me by your name
If there is one clip that we had to hail as the most instrumental this year, it would be this one. Lil Nas X rocked the industry with consecutive music videos that caused a stir on the scene. While I’m sure the comments will argue that this is what I want or Industry Baby deserved a spot (and we don’t disagree), nothing caused a moment like Call Me By Your Name. On his own, the young artist has outraged Republicans, global corporations and virtually everyone on the Internet. Maybe it was the strip pole going down to hell or Satan’s lap dance, we’re not quite sure, but just for that it’s a video worth crediting.
Hayley Kiyoko – Girls Love Girls
It would be wrong to overlook the impact Girls Like Girls has had on the community. Released in June 2015, the song went viral on social media and across the world for its open and vulnerable portrayal of romance between two friends. Likewise, the video candidly rewrote the queer punchline ending (a trope historically used in videos, for example Olivia Newton-John’s Physical or, to a lesser extent, Carly Rae Jepson’s Call Me Maybe.
Additionally, the comments below the video reaffirm the impact of the video, with many commenting on how it helped them recognize their own sexuality or appreciate the alliance as a member of the community. Regardless, the video and track remain popular hits and it’s easy to see why.