The music industry still has a long way to go in terms of inclusivity. Still, with more people than ever identifying as LGBTQ+, it’s no surprise that we are seeing more openly LGBTQ+ musicians breaking through into the mainstream. Artists such as Lil Nas X, Frank Ocean, the late great SOPHIE, MNEK, Years and Years, Christine and the Queens, and so many more have paved the way for the next generation.
With Pride Month very much in full swing, we asked BIMM Institute Birmingham Music Production student Klara Filip, who inspires them in the industry:
Tegan and Sara
Tegan and Sara are identical twins from Calgary, Canada, who are an openly gay band. They were born on September 19th, 1980 and have been musically active since 1995. According to an article by The Guardian, the two have been open about their sexualities since the beginning of their music career, which started when they finished high school, though no date is specified.
Heavily influenced by their parents’ musical interests, the pair started playing the piano when they were eight. It wasn’t until high school the pair began writing and making music together and would use their school’s studio to record.
They released three albums in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but it wasn’t until the twins’ fourth album in 2004 when people started asking how they could keep up the career they had made while being openly gay.
Mykki Blanco, born Michael David Quattlebaum Jr., is from Orange County, California. Mykki Blanco started going by that name in 2012, around the same time that she released their debut EP Mykki Blanco and the Mutant Angels. The creation of Mykki Blanco was a way to take on female identity. Blanco identifies as transgender and explores her sexuality daily.
Quattlebaum Jr. told Numéro that “masculinity is always perceived as the incarnation of strength and power, in the same way that femininity is often perceived as weakness… But femininity is an incredibly powerful source of strength.”
King Princess was born Mikaela Mullaney Straus in Brooklyn on the 19th of December 1998. She is a singer/songwriter, instrumentalist and producer who started her career in 2015. Now, she’s signed to Mark Ronson’s label, Zelig Records.
In an interview with The New York Times, King Princess described herself as “emotionally lesbian but culturally a gay man.” Explaining that she’s “Not really a woman, I’ve never been a woman. I’m a drag queen. I was confused why other people couldn’t understand that I wasn’t a girl and wasn’t a boy. I was really confused about what gender I was until now”.
She discovered the LGBTQ+ community through her very supportive mother.
Sylvester was born Sylvester James Jr. in Watts, Los Angeles, on the 6th September 1947. He was a singer, songwriter, composer and record producer. An article by the San Francisco Chronicle explains that Sylvester “blurred binary gender lines, not only vocally but visually” and that he and his voice were “hard to define as traditionally masculine or feminine.”
From his teens, Sylvester was openly gay. He was unapologetically femme, and his style and gender were hard to define by many during his lifetime. Unfortunately, he died on the 16th December 1988 of AIDS-related complications.
Laura Jane Grace
Laura Jane Grace was born Thomas James Gabel on the 8th November 1980 in Fort Benning, Georgia. She came out publicly as being transgender in May 2012. She’s recognised as being one of the first punk rock musicians to come out as trans. Grace is a singer, songwriter, and guitarist. She started transitioning the same year she came out.
Laura had facial feminisation surgery in December 2018 and said that there was a fear that she might not sing again after having the surgery, which is the main reason she rushed her album Bought to Rot the month before.
Thanks Klara for some insight into your favourite LGBTQ+ artists! You can check out more from our amazing societies here.