14 Music Videos That Confirmed My Sexuality

Growing up, there weren’t many ways for me to figure out my sexuality. Picking up books with obvious lesbian themes, going on certain sites when we shared a family computer, etc. were out of the question. Music videos gave me a chance to explore my sexuality without alerting my family and friends that I was gay before I was ready to come out. If someone walked in during a music video, regardless of the content, you can say you didn’t even know it was on and feign disappointment and anger at what dared to cross your television screen as your back was turned (this is why I kept books around, so I can say I was reading). Going down memory lane (and a few from the present) I’m now trying to use music videos as a guide to figure out my type, but I think I ended up more confused than usual.


1. Ching A Ling

Missy Elliott is the one time I answer both to the classic question of “do I want to be her or do I want to date her?”  An artistic genius who has fun in every video (let’s all fall in love with her in Work It again, shall we?) and AND IS JUST GORGEOUS.

2. Check On It

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She gave so many looks and this is the reason pink is one of my favorite colors. As a young one, I gave up pink because of internalized misogyny and homophobia but fear not, this video has brought me back to the light.

3. Beautiful Liar

So they’ve decided the man that’s cheated on both of them isn’t worth their time and they wish they could heal the pain in each other, which basically means they’re girlfriends by the end of this video. We are so blessed.

Look at how happy they are now that the man is gone, if that’s not a gospel idk what is.

4. Like A Boy

“Ladies, I think it’s time to switch roles.”

Imagine my disappointment when I learned she didn’t mean it was time for us to do as in the good ol’ days and take the mens’ place as other women’s lovers.

LOOK AT ALL THE BUTCHES, IT’S A DREAM COME TRUE.

5. Promise

IMAGINE MY SURPRISE WHEN CIARA DID THIS RIGHT AFTER “LIKE A BOY.” I was not only shook, I was wrecked and a mere composition of crumbles.

6. Umbrella

We’ve got to be real here. There’s no story going on here. This is four minutes of Rihanna showing us how beautiful she is, especially when wet. And I think we need to honor the gift she has given us here. Also, I have never been more jealous of an umbrella in my entire life.

7. Fallin’

Let’s travel back in time, before the “make-up free” and ”cheated with Swizz Beatz” Alicia Keys, to the “Fallin’” and “You Don’t Know My Name” era Keys — back when cornrows and black girl soft butch swag was the style.

I had this as a t-shirt and a huge ass poster hanging over my bed:

How wasn’t this baby gay gonna fall for her?

8. You Don’t Know My Name

Deadass, this was my closeted lesbian anthem. I be going into school looking at every pretty girl crush mentally sangin’ YOU DON’T KNOW MY NAME even though they obviously did. There were like 20 of us, but I was like BUT YOU DON’T KNOW MY* (*LESBIAN ASS READY TO RISK IT ALL FOR YOU) NAME and I liked the idea that for six minutes and six seconds, there was a possibility that I could shoot my shot and have that shit work out. Also, Mos Def is one of my favorite rappers/actors ever and he made it easy when the girls in class asked who I was looking at in this video. Also, to each their own, but I am so disappointed that I cannot go back in time and tell middle school / high school me that Alicia Keys is not some kind of not straight. I’m not saying my gaydar is amazing, but I didn’t think it’d let me down like this.

The literal moment Keys went “oh fuck, I can’t believe I just said that” but didn’t backtrack and she soldiered on was this not life goals. LIKE, YEAH, I LIKE YOU. DO YOU LIKE ME? CHECK A BOX MOTHERFUCKER!

“But I always use milk and cream for you cause I think you’re kinda sweet”

I was like DAMN BABE, LET ‘EM KNOW. The spoken part of this music video was ridiculous. I was like taking notes on how to ask girls out cause, “I know girls don’t usually do this.” Oh but they do, Ms. Keys. Maybe not the straight ones, but they do.

9. Touch My Body

Answering the door in lingerie #iconic.

If I could’ve aged myself and then gone back in time, I would’ve gone back to be the CompuNerd in this video tbh.

10. Can’t Remember to Forget You

So Beyonce and Shakira didn’t work out. It’s chill. Sometimes that’s how life goes. They’re still great friends, hang out every couple of weekends to catch up. And now, Shakira has more to share because look at who she has recently fallen for. The moment Rihanna walks down the hall and we see Shakira smile is when you knew they were in this shit for real. I mean they keep singing about this guy they can’t remember to forget and I completely believe them because whenever I’ve had boy troubles I’d cuddle with my best friend in heels and lingerie.

I mean, how else do you cope with the sadness? It totally makes sense. Let’s also take a moment of silence for Rihanna here:

Because this is the look of a woman who is not playing any type of straight game.

11. Gold Digger

I used to wait in my cousin’s room at my grandparent’s house before we went to school and this video came on MTV. I vaguely remember thinking “This is the best day of my life,” and then immediately going straight to the chapel when I got to school.

12. Whatever You Like

I seriously considered becoming a rapper just so I could, like T.I., have enough gumption to give my number to the cute cashier.

Could Reagan Gomez be any more adorable?

13. American Boy

The opening shot, literally, that was enough.

But then she explained all the things she wants, and I was like “BET, I CAN DO THAT.” I was like “I’m American and sometimes I dress like a boy so I’m already halfway and like .2% there.”

14. BANJI

This entire video is all I want in life. A girl gang that initiates new recruits by double dutch? Soft butches everywhere? Music that makes me jam every time I hear two notes? I don’t know what your heaven looks like, but this is mine.

Alexis Smithers (Lex Lee) is a black nonbinary person creating on the East Coast. They've volunteered for Winter Tangerine and currently are a Web Development Student at Bloc. A 2015 Pink Door Fellow & 2016 Lambda Literary Emerging Writer, you can find more of their work on their website and listen to them scream about poetry & other interests on Twitter.

Alexis has written 27 articles for us.

56 Comments

  1. Shakira and Rihanna in Can’t Remember To Forget You are very…talented.

    Another video that is SO GAY is Aerosmith’s Crazy with Alicia Silverstone and Liv Tyler. It includes pole dancing and skinny dipping and drag. If you don’t like the song (I’m not a fan), playing any pop song over the top seems to work. Especially Britney Spears’ Circus.

    Thanks for the other recommendations Alexis, I will be checking these out!

    • I can’t believe how perfect this video was up until like the last minute and a half? Catholic school lesbians (played by my FAVES???) leaving school early to go to a strip club where one of them dresses in a suit and the other performs a strip tease for them?????/ HOW COULDN’T THIS MAKE YOU GAY I believe I’m gayer than I started this morning and I wanna thank you for that. WOW

      This is probably a cinematic classic I’m gonna watch for at least the next four years.

    • I’m gonna be real with you almost every not straight lady I know has recommended Te Amo and I never watched it cause I thought it’d be like Lost & Delirious where my feelings just get hurt bUT I WAS SO WRONG AND THANK YOU FOR SHARING HOLY SHIT THIS IS WHY EVERYONE IS TALKING ABOUT IT WHAT A WAY TO MAKE MY DAY

  2. So much truth in this. LORDT *fans self at work*

    Side note I knew there was another reason why I was so into Alicia Keys during her Songs in A Minor days… (and still, let’s be real)

    Outside of music videos, another woman on TV who basically helped me confirm I was queer a f was Rachael Ray. My dad and I bonded over that HAH.

  3. My earliest gay memory is age 12, rushing home after school every day, and immediately turning on MTV on the off-chance I would get to see Beyoncé’s video for “Naughty Girl.” It was…not because I was into Usher’s cameo.

    • Naughty Girl was definitely for consideration on this list but I was like……I’ve already got two videos what if this tips the scale. I can’t let everyone know that if Beyoncé just said the word I’d be rIGHT THERE

  4. Does anyone remember the brief period in 1999 or 2000 when the Disney channel played music videos? I already knew I liked women at that point, but the first time I saw the video for Luscious Jackson’s Ladyfingers I was like “Yes, more please.”

    • Yes! Though I don’t remember this one probably because if it wasn’t Britney, I wasn’t paying attention but!

      That chorus! “I’ve got ladyfingers baby, I’ve got heart” I want that on a t-shirt right now so people know what I’m about

      I wish public buses just had lady groups singing while there was party this the world I wanna live in

  5. I have eleven different YouTube lesbian music video playlists ranging from “Subtexty” to “Gaaaaay” via “Indiscriminate Lesbian Writhing” and yet I feel many entries in this post warrant entirely new classifications.

  6. That Songs in A Minor poster really reminds me of Shania Twain in the best possible way. Like Keys was contractually obligated to expose her midriff but got a little chilly so they gave her an oversized jacket to compensate.

  7. “They keep singing about this guy they can’t remember to forget and I completely believe them because whenever I’ve had boy troubles I’d cuddle with my best friend in heels and lingerie.” AHHHHHH

    • Okay but same, I went around saying FEMINISM THAT’S WHY I LOVE THIS VIDEO but everyone just told me it was cause I was gay, man that’s such a great video wHEN SHE SLAPPED DRAKE’S HAND AWAY AMAZING

  8. Metallica – Whiskey in the Jar, Aerosmith – Crazy (hello there young Liv Tyler) but most of all Brazilian band Skank – Garota Nacional.
    If you’ve never seen the video I couldn’t recommended more. It was considered too explicit for MTV so I never aired in the US.
    Plus the song is so catchy.

    https://mais.uol.com.br/view/9bbrfjqhaw0c/skank–garota-nacional-04020E9A3072CC995326?types=V&

    • I was not prepared for that at all wOW (I also have got to pick up languages better because I was like I DONT KNOW WHAT YOURE SAYING BUT IT FEELS LIKE ITS VERY IMPORTANT CAUSE YOU FEEL SO STRONGLY ABOUT IT) thank you for sharing!

  9. I waited to open this post till I could look/listen to the videos….and just discovered who wrote this! Alexis!!!! Plus then saw it was a second post, with a first one that I missed two months ago when I was away, which I just read.

    So this is a double wow! And a belated thank you so much Alexis for both of these incredible gifts – your first searingly honest, incisive and heart-waking-breaking-shaking post, as well as this gorgeous sexy post.

    I’ve always loved reading your FOT posts, and remember the excitement of you going on the writers retreat, as well as the gorgeous poem you generously shared with me, and so am so so SO delighted you get to share more of your wondrousness with us.

    Also Ciara’s “Like a boy”… Yesyesyes especially the group dance scenes and the SUIT! And Benji’s video made me grin from start to finish. As I never won’t with that Rihanna/Cigar wink. Although I know that Riri’s ability to wink is a contentious issue ?. Which somehow only makes it better…!

    • Thank you so much for reading and holding space for me and just be really kind, I’ve got a lot of love for you and I appreciate you so much! ��?��

      YES I AGREE Rihanna not being able to wink but continuing to do it like YES I CAN is like 10% inspiring and 90% endearing as I also giggle at her every time. ?

  10. Alicia Keys & Ciara were definitely in my top middle school crushes and I still rave about them to my girlfriend to this day. Best part about living in Atlanta in the early 2000s was the sheer amount of Ciara merch and her being on every dance playlist so it was never weird how much I raved about her XD

    • 1. I applaud your commitment
      2. I had never watched this all the way through because even from glimpses I knew I’d never be able to handle this as a closeted baby gay
      3. SHE IS SO TALENTED WHERE IS SHE NOW I only know her from movies (Man of the House, Love Don’t Cost a Thing which both felt like enough to give me a crush on her) but now I’m like ??????? I need to watch all of her videos immediately

  11. My list:
    Cassie – Me and You https://youtu.be/zVJ5gsLeCSM
    Christina Aguilera – Come On Over Baby https://youtu.be/0RQDIJ2CvbA
    Spice Girls – Holler (Live) https://youtu.be/8ifq_E5GW0E
    The Pussycat Dolls – Buttons https://youtu.be/VCLxJd1d84s
    Madonna – I’m Sorry (Confessions Tour) https://youtu.be/eKwAWGlwjx0
    Mya – My Love is Like Wo https://youtu.be/K4gcQj_NZ30
    Usher feat Beyoncé – Bad Girl (live) https://youtu.be/IozMfEYI0JY
    Jessica Simpson – These Boots Are Made for Walkin’ https://youtu.be/DPtfsk4ETjM
    Ricky Martin – Drop it On Me (VSF fashion show) https://youtu.be/Os056xvzmzs
    Justin Timberlake – Summer Love (HBO live at MSG, wish I could find the actual HBO footage) https://youtu.be/C4h7ZNQu5lc
    Beyoncé – Ego (from I Am World Tour, wish I could find the whole thing.. but this is good) https://youtu.be/Usk02XJoQbQ
    Jennifer Lopez – If You Had My Love https://youtu.be/lYfkl-HXfuU
    Britney Spears – Breathe On Me (Onyx Hotel Tour) https://youtu.be/0OP38OzcIJs
    Shakira – La Tortura (specifically 2:01-2:08) https://youtu.be/Dsp_8Lm1eSk

    Sadly not on YouTube:
    P!nk – Oh My God (from Live in Europe, 2004)

    Whew. That was fun. Complete playlist: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLrxHfDTI3d1Z3QPdTYd3gYQmnUOX7YWCn

  12. xtina’s candyman was released just after i turned 13 and i so vividly remember the boys at school talking about how hot it was and i vehemently agreed, not even realising this would come off as atypical. that…….. was a turning point.

    • YES! We watched that video after school and one of the girls was like, “She’s hot” and I was like “thank God the straight girl said it first so I can agree without freaking out”

  13. I totally agree with this post. I, too, went through that as I was growing and figuring myself out. Music videos were definitely a way to see things that made me feel some type of way without alerting family around me. I also definitely had that “Do I want to BE her or be WITH her?” question in my head many times.

    I’d like to add two more songs:

    Shakira- Tortura….because walking (laying down) with your toosh on a table is sexy.

    TLC – Creep….because silk pjs and belly buttons.

  14. “But I always use milk and cream for you cause I think you’re kinda sweet” . . . my life would be lonely & loveless – it gave me the courage to practice asking ppl I didn’t like out and then actually ask a person I desperately liked out.

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