58 Gay Pop Icons and Rising Stars

Defining “pop music” is hard enough, let alone “gay pop” — but what we know for sure is that gay pop musicians have exited and have been defining culture for many, many years. Beyond the concept of pop music simply being music that is popular, we narrowed our definition to match its current application — music that’s a bit more commercial and broadly accessible with a dance-able rhythm and familiar structure.

So you won’t see on this list artists who felt like rock musicians first and foremost (e.g., Bikini Kill, Joan Jett) or the massive crew of queer musicians who have dominated folk and its many iterations for so long (e.g., Brandi Carlile, Melissa Etheridge). But you will find, we think, a pretty broad range of musicians who dabble in multiple genres while also aiming for that “pop” space, and doing so in a way that feels distinctly queer or gay.

This list is hardly comprehensive — there are so many more musicians who fit into the “gay pop” category than we listed here. But we hoped to create a good sampler platter representing some of the many.

Lady Gaga

lady gaga performing

It’d be impossible to understate out bisexual musician and actor Lady Gaga‘s impact on culture and pop music, or the impact she’s made as an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ+ rights. Every Gaga performance and high-camp costume was iconic. Her male alter-ego Jo Calederone was absurdly hot. Her music video for “Telephone” opened with Gaga making out with butch Canadian performance artist Heather Cassils and ended with her holding hands with Beyonce and driving into the sunset. “Born This Way” doesn’t even matter —it’s “Bad Romance” and “Poker Face” and “Alejandro” and “Bad Romance” and “You and I” and “Paparazzi.” Lady Gaga is a queen of gay pop.

Hayley Kiyoko

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 25: Hayley Kiyoko performs during the 53rd Annual San Francisco Pride Parade and Celebration at San Francisco Civic Center on June 25, 2023 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Miikka Skaffari/WireImage,)
(Photo by Miikka Skaffari/WireImage,)

On the cover of Nylon Magazine’s first-ever Pride Issue, Hayley Kiyoko was described as an unprecedented force in the gay pop scene, a lesbian teen heartthrob unafraid to court a passionate, starving queer fan base who crowned her Lesbian Jesus. She was the first lesbian pop star signed to a major label to make multiple music videos in which she kisses girls. It’s incredible how recent Kiyoko, who’s also an actor, dancer and writer, changed the game. In recent years, she’s published a book, Girls Like Girls, a reference to her supergay track “Girls Like Girls.”

Troye Sivan

Australian actor and noted “twink icon” Troye Sivan came out on YouTube at the age of 18, after which point he, according to a New Yorker profile, “began to shed his plucky YouTube persona and to adopt the ultra-styled glamour of a pop star.” The profile noted that despite the rich legacy of LGBT musicians, Sivan was trying to do something new, becoming “a gay pop idol in the mold of Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber, forged on social media and marketed to a mass audience primed by Lady Gaga’s anthem of acceptance, “Born This Way.”” He makes extremely gay music videos, most recently the delightful “One of Your Girls.”

Janelle Monáe

(Photo by Chelsea Guglielmino/WireImage)

Obviously, Janelle Monaé is a titan. An icon. A GOAT. Pick an euphemism for “the best to ever do it” when talking about queer music, and they will still be at the top of that list. But what is perhaps most striking about Monáe is not just their feats, but the way they did it. Janelle Monáe has always been beloved by queer fans who saw themselves in their music, but they did not start their career as an out artist. They took time letting us in, feeling safe and secure enough to share their truth with us — first coming out as pansexual in 2018, then nonbinary in 2022, and in 2023 penning love letters to polyamory on their Age of Pleasure album. Sharing the intimacy of coming into yourself with a legion of queer fans and fandroids is vulnerable, tough work. It makes Monáe stand out in any room. (-Carmen Phillips)

David Bowie

David Bowie peforming at the Garden
Arthur D’Amario III / Shutterstock.com

He was a gender-bending bisexual legend. From Ziggy Stardust to “Modern Love,” he changed music forever — and inspired generations of queer people to experiment with their sexuality and gender. (-Drew Burnett Gregory)

Tegan & Sara

tegan and sara album cover
via LiveNation

It was difficult to have a feeling — genuinely, any feeling at all — in the 2000s or 2010s without knowing the perfect Tegan & Sara lyric to match that feeling. The Canadian twins were beloved by queer women and eventually successfully broke into the mainstream, singing the theme song to the Lego movie and penning hits like “Boyfriend” and “Closer.” Now they’re still touring and making music but more than that — they’ve published two memoirs, turned their lives into a TV show and continue doing advocacy work for the LGBTQ+ community through the Tegan & Sara Foundation.

Christine and the Queens

Ben Houdijk / Shutterstock.com

Pansexual and genderqueer French singer-songwriter Christine and the Queens, who also goes just by Chris, makes very fun and often experimental art pop. He has put out four studio albums and a whopping 11 EPs. (-Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya)

Elton John

(Photo by David Redfern/Redferns)

Elton John is a pioneer in the gay pop conversation — a Legend who came out as bisexual in 1976 and then as gay in 1992. From his wild costumes to his timeless hits tohis trailblazing advocacy, John is one of the greatest live performers and most successful musicians of all time.

Cardi B

Ringo Chiu / Shutterstock.com

It’s hard to write about Cardi B without also writing about her “work wife” Megan thee Stallion. Cardi’s flow by itself is legendary by itself, and she rightfully would have a spot on this list on the strength of her bars alone, but together Cardi and Meg rap about pussy like Picasso painting his next great work of art. That’s not being grandiose for the sake of simile, like Picasso working through his various periods, Meg and Cardi have found a new way to twist and turn each of their lyrics, no two ever alike, in love letters to women’s sex and empowerment. They are never at their best and most comfortable (or gayest) than when they’re rapping together. “W.A.P.” was an anthem, but it was really “Bongos” — which features both bisexual rappers mimicking scissoring in the music video, with the song’s cover art decked out in bi pride colors —that etched their music in the queer pantheon forever. (-CP)

Megan Thee Stallion

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 03: (FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Megan Thee Stallion attends the 66th GRAMMY Awards Pre-GRAMMY Gala & GRAMMY Salute To Industry Icons Honoring Jon Platt at The Beverly Hilton on February 03, 2024 in Beverly Hills, California.
Photo by Momodu Mansaray/WireImage

As already mentioned, Megan thee Stallion shines at her gayest when creating with Cardi B. But she also stands firmly on her own. Meg’s created something of a side quest to her press tours out of making as many other queer rappers and singers blush in her presence as possible. She plays the game a little like Pokemon, trying to catch them all. The most recent to fall was none other than Renée Rapp, who in January of this year proclaimed on her Instagram to be one of Megan thee Stallion’s lesbian bodyguards. And while surely Meg can protect herself if needed, seeing the head coach bisexual hotties get her well deserved flowers never gets old.(-CP)


MANCHESTER, TENNESSEE - JUNE 19: Fletcher performs at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival on June 18, 2022 in Manchester, Tennessee. (Photo by Josh Brasted/WireImage)
(Photo by Josh Brasted/WireImage)

She’s a great singer-songwriter, sure, but she’s also notable for the absolute truckload of sapphic drama that swirls around Fletcher‘s every movement and release — it was impossible to ignore the buzz around “Becky’s So Hot,” an ode to the hotness of her ex’s current girlfriend, which she performed on The L Word: Generation Q.

Ricky Martin

“King of Latin Pop” Ricky Martin first emerged as a standout heartthrob of the oft-shifting Puerto Rican boy band Menudo before launching a solo career in the ’90s, while also working as an actor. But it was “Livin’ La Vida Loca,” from Martin’s first English album, Ricky Martin (1999) that made him a household name worldwide and catapulted him into superstardom. He came out in March 2010, an event cited by Billboard’s Lucas Villa as a game-changer for the industry: “With Martin’s announcement, gay artists, who had long kept their sexual identities a secret, finally had a beacon of hope.”


AUSTIN - CIRCA MARCH 2016: Rapper, singer, and songwriter Kehlani Ashley Parrish performs at the SXSW Music Festival in Austin, Texas.

It’s hard to find words to describe Kehlani that don’t end in “heartthrob.” Maybe that makes sense, the lesbian R&B star has turned their concerts into welcome spaces of queer thirst.Their duets with everyone from Teyana Taylor to their ex Victoria Monét are so hot they could melt paint off of walls. And Kehlani’s quieter ballads, like 2022’s “Altar” have become mainstays for the gays who prefer their soundtracks to go with ritual moon baths and candle lightings. In a fun plot twist, they’ve also become a mainstay sidelines at women’s basketball games nationwide, including headlining 2023’s WNBA All-Star game halftime show. Whatever the mood, Kehlani is ready and waiting. And yes that can be read in more ways than one, see the above mentioned “heartthrob”. (-CP)

Lauren Jauregui

A former member of the girl group Fifth Harmony, Lauren Jauregui really leaned into her queer identity when pursuing her fantastic solo career. She has identified as bisexual and sexually fluid, and she is a politically outspoken artist known for participating in protests and speaking out against genocide, war, and xenophobia. In a genre not always known for taking strong political stands, she really stands out as a pop artist and activist. (-KKU)


A flamboyant and androgynous musician who worked across disco, R&B and soul, Sylvester had a distinctive falsetto voice and launched his career with avant-garde drag troupe The Cockettes, his song “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” is a core queer anthem.

Adam Lambert

Adam Lambert singing in Poland
Dziurek / Shutterstock.com

Nobody remembers Kris Allen, who somehow beat Lambert for the American Idol crown in 2009. Lambert came out on the cover of Rolling Stone that year, and faced intense homophobia while launching his career and refusing to censor gay sexuality. Truly, no other male artist has garnered more space on this lesbian website than Lambert. In addition to his solo work, he’s been performing as the lead singer of Queen since 2011.


Kesha at the 2016 Billboard Music Awards held at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, USA on May 22, 2016.

Since breaking onto the pop scene with her bisexual party girl persona, Kesha has evolved into a powerhouse vocalist and songwriter as likely to deliver an anthemic ballad about surviving abuse as she is a killer dance song. Even as she’s matured — and dropped the $ from her name — she’s never stopped having fun with her music getting more explicitly queer in songs like “Kinky.” (-DBG)

Freddie Mercury

freddie mercury peforming in the czech republic
Arthur D’Amario III / Shutterstock.com

The frontman of Queen is considered one of the greatest singers of all time, and his death from AIDS shook the gay community to its core. “His distinctive baritone voice, his ability to extend his three-octave vocal range with a variety of vibrato and distortion techniques, his strutting, seductive showmanship and his ability to connect with his audience made him one of the most thrilling rock performers of all time,” writes the Legacy Project Chicago.

Dove Cameron

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JULY 09: Dove Cameron attends the World Premiere of "Barbie" at Shrine Auditorium and Expo Hall on July 09, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.
(Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/WireImage)

All Disney kids grow up to be gay, we don’t make the rules. But still, even by those standards, there was no preparing for the way that Dove Cameron took every ounce of the venom that once upon a time made her kid’s icon in Disney’s Descendents series (where she played the daughter of Maleficent) and flip it into such piercing queer seduction in 2022’s “Boyfriend.”

“I can be a better boyfriend than him,” Dove croons, her voice graveling. “I can do the shit that he never did… I can be such a gentleman.” Who knew that they were teaching game like that at the Mickey Mouse Club? (-CP)

Lisa M

Known as the first female rapper to debut in Latin America, Puerto Rican singer/songwriter, dancer, producer and DJ Lisa M came out as a lesbian in 2010. Famous worldwide, her music fuses genres including pop, merengue, rap and reggaetón.


LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 04: (L-R) Lucy Dacusm, Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers of Boygenius attend the 66th GRAMMY Awards at Crypto.com Arena on February 04, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Johnny Nunez/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)
(Photo by Johnny Nunez/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

We weren’t sure about including boygenius on this list — their music isn’t really “pop” but as the Gay Pop conversation has continued this week, they do keep coming up, and so here we are. “Love is a worship, and being let into that love boygenius has for each other makes it feel so much easier to access that love in one’s own life,” wrote Gabrielle Grace Hogan of the deeply adored trio of Lucy Dacus, Phoebe Bridgers, and Julien Baker. “I wish all queers a friendship like boygenius sings about.” Shortly after announcing a hiatus from their collaborative work, boygenius absolutely dominated the 2023 Grammys.

Be Steadwell

Be Steadwell performing at A-Camp in 2019

Steadwell is known for a genre of music she literally calls “queer pop” and my lord, the things Be Steadwell can do with their voice and a loop pedal! Their shows are intimate and sexy, their music is catchy and often genuinely funny, and consistently so true to the queer experience.

girl in red

(Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Coachella)

Declared “one of the most astute and exciting singer-songwriters working in the world of guitar music” by The New York Times and a “queer icon” by Paper, the Norweigan alt-pop singer-songwriter broke out with her very gay single “I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend” in 2018. Her music resonates with deeply emotional queer women all over the world, and likely did so when she was tapped to open for Taylor Swift on multiple legs of the blockbuster Eras Tour.

Miley Cyrus

This might be recency bias talking, but is it possible that after a nearly 20 year career in the industry (of which she’s been out as queer for more than a decade), that Miley Cyrus’ duet “II Most Wanted” off of Beyoncé’s Cowboy Carter last month is somehow her gayest song?

Of course, Miley Cyrus has the ability to turn every song’s queerness up three notches just by the strength of her mere presence, so take this observation with a heavy grain of salt, but it is hard not to notice that a current Top 10 single on the Billboard charts (as of this writing), has Miley Cyrus promising to be Bey’s “backseat baby, drivin’ you crazy anytime you’d like” in a Thelma & Louise-style ballad. Whew. You know? (-CP)

George Michael

Another giant of the ’80s and ’90s, English singer-songwriter, producer and philanthropist George Michael is on every greatest music-related list ever, first getting famous with Wham! before going solo with his massively successful debut, Faith. Freedom! 90 was first read as a coming out anthem (Michael didn’t actually come out for another ten years) but now it’s just an essential gay anthem.


Australian bisexual musician Sia is known for her wigs, her many solo albums, her weird music videos, her costumes, and the song “Breathe Me” that played in the finale of Six Feet Under, which made us all cry. Sia’s a prolific soungwriter, penning many hits for other artists. She’s won a multitude of Grammys, (many for “Chandelier.”) She dated JD Samson for several years and has been out as queer since 2008.


156102 10: Rupaul performs during the Gay Rights March April 25, 1993 in Washington, DC. Over 500,000 gays, lesbians and bisexual activists and their friends and families participated in the largest gathering of gay men and lesbians in history organized to end discrimination. (Photo by Porter Gifford/Liaison)
(Photo by Porter Gifford/Liaison)

What is gay pop if it is not RuPaul’s 1993 classic “Supermodel”? Ru turned the “sashay shante” of its chorus into an empire that has lasted the next 30 years, and is still going! For better or for worse, it’s hard to imagine the fabric of queer culture without Ru’s thumbprints on it, and it can be hard to remember from our perch in 2024 — but that reign started with Ru’s music, first and foremost.(-CP)

Reneé Rapp

(Photo by Kristy Sparow/Getty Images)

Another member of the up-and-coming Next Generation of Sapphic pop singers is actor/singer/songwriter Renee Rapp, who once declared a desire to be the “bisexual Justin Bieber” before coming out as a lesbian this year, the same year she played Regina George in the Mean Girls movie-musical, a role she also played on Broadway. Rapp is consistently bold and uncensored and her music is too.

Lil Nas X

There are probably a thousand reasons why Lil Nas X would be at the top of anyone’s “queer pop icon” list. Despite what many casual fans might believe, he’s not the first-ever gay rapper — but he’s certainly the most famous. There will always be one moment that stands out, cementing Lil Nas X as a legend of our time: While performing his gay anthem “(Montero) Call Me By Your Name” at the 2021 BET Awards, Lil Nas X closes the song by pulling a dancer close for a make out onstage at a historically homophobic network. It was a first for BET, and a welcome return home for many Black queer fans watching at home. (-CP)

Debbie Harry

Debbie Harry founded pioneering new wave band Blondie in 1974, an outfit whose hits have lasted forever in the gay club rotationon, most notably “Heart of Glass” and “One Way or Another.” Stef described Harry, who came out as bisexual in 2014, as “the quintessential frontwoman – a platinum-blonde ice queen with a punk rock snarl.” Even at the age of 78, Harry continues to collaborate, perform and write.

St Vincent

AUSTIN, TX / USA - OCTOBER 6th, 2018:  St. Vincent (Anne Erin Clark) performs onstage at Zilker Park during Austin City Limits 2018 Weekend One.

Annie Clark — who goes by the stage name St. Vincent — is often at the center of the sapphic celeb gossip rumor mill, having been in some high profile relationships through the years (Carrie Brownstein, Cara Delevigne, Kristen Stewart, to name a few), but don’t let any of this distract from the fact that she’s an incredible multigenre musician who has evolved through the years in exciting ways. In addition to her own hits, she’s also a prolific songwriter for other pop acts and co-wrote Taylor Swift’s “Cruel Summer.” She’s a rock pop living legend, and every album she puts out feels like it’s doing something new. (-KKU)

Victoria Monét

Victoria Monét, winner of the "Best New Artist" and "Best R&B Album" award for "Jaguar II", poses in the press room at the 66th Annual GRAMMY Awards held at Crypto.com Arena on February 4, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Billboard via Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Buckner/Billboard via Getty Images)

The reigning It Girl of R&B is here, queer, and never afraid to let you know it. It’s easy to make jokes that Victoria Monét’s viral off-stage and behind-the-scenes moments drove her ex-Kehlani to famously “hate the club,” but the real reason she’s a titan of gay pop is that no one’s writing catchy hooks about queer sex like Monét.

Whether it’s encouraging Kehlani to keep her nails short on “Touch Me (Remix)” or reminding a lover to get her strap and “look me in my eyes, so you can see how I react” on “Girls Need Love (Girls Mix),” Victoria Monét’s pen is mighty. Before her Grammy win for Best New Artist earlier this year, Monét told Variety that she knows she has a privilege to be open about her bisexuality in a way that Whitney Houston couldn’t, and watching her success already — it’s not hard to imagine Whitney smiling back at her. (-CP)

Demi Lovato

Having sold over 24 million records in the U.S., Demi Lovato has been a massive star since she was a child, and her “Cool for the Summer” is an absolute requirement for any queer pop playlist. She’s opened up to fans in documentaries about her mental health struggles and did a guest spot on Glee as Santana’s brief girlfriend, Dani. Lovato’s been openly queer since 2020, while also coming out as non-binary and gender fluid.

Billie Eilish

(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

At the age of 22, baby genius Billie Eilish is the youngest artist in Grammy history to win all four general field artists and the youngest two-time Oscar winner. She came out as queer last year and was already a style icon to gender agnostics everywhere. Her music is raw and honest and dark and moody and it’s wild to think that she’s only just begun.


29 June 2023. Rock Werchter Festival Werchter, Belgium. Concert of Ashnikko
Ben Houdijk / Shutterstock.com

Pansexual and genderfliud new artist Ashnikko has collaborated with other queer musicians like Ethel Cain. They’re dating indie pop artist Arlo Parks. (-KKU)

Frank Ocean

A multi-genre artist whose music fits an expansive and distinctly queer approach to pop, Ocean has two Grammys under his belt (with six additional nominations) and several other accolades, including a GLAAD Media Award for his truly groundbreaking debut studio album Channel Orange, which came out in 2012. Ocean came out on Tumblr the same year. (-KKU)

Boy George

Boy George Culture Club 14 December 2016 Wembley SSE Arena London

English singer, songwriter, writer, reality TV personality, DJ and actor Boy George was the lead singer of iconic and massively successful New Romantic pop band Culture Club, which peaked in the 80s, as well as a prolific solo artist. His androgyny inspired questions about his sexuality, and he told Joan Rivers in 1983 that he dated both men and women, before revealing in his 1995 autobiography that he was gay and had secretly dated Culture Club dummer Jon Moss.

Arlo Parks

09 June 2023. Best Kept Secret Festival Beekse Bergen, The Netherlands. Concert of Arlo Parks
Ben Houdijk / Shutterstock.com

Singer-songwriter Arlo Parks is bisexual, and her 2021 debut studio album Collapsed in Sunbeams hit number three on the UK Albums Chart and won Best Pop Record at the Libera Awards the following year. She’s in a relationship with fellow artist Ashnikko. (-KKU)

Betty Who

Betty Who on the red carpet
lev radin / Shutterstock.com

Multi-instrumentalist Betty Who has identified as queer and bisexual and is married to photographer Zak Cassar. She released her debut single “Somebody Loves You” independently in 2012, and after the success of her also independently released first EP The Movement, she signed with RCA Records in 2013. She put out four studio albums between 2014 and 2022, and she made her Broadway debut in Hadestown in 2023. (-KKU)

King Princess

DETROIT, MICHIGAN / USA - JULY 27, 2019: Mikaela Mullaney Straus of King Princess performs live at Mo Pop Music Festival
Tony Norkus / Shutterstock

Nonbinary lesbian King Princess‘s debut single, “1950,” was a self-described tribute to Patricia Highsmith’s The Price of Salt, the LGBT community and queer love, and her album Cheap Queen is a certified lesbian breakup album. In a 2020 profile in The New York Times, journalist Lizzie Goodman described their music as “guitar-driven torch songs with lyrics sharpened by what sounds like a thousand years of love gone wrong.”

Rita Ora

London, UK - May 24th 2019: Rita Ora performs live at the O2 Arena, London, England. live at the O2 Arena, London, England.
Tom Rose / Shutterstock.com

Admittedly, when Rita Ora first released 2018’s “Girls,” its reception in queer women’s communities was a bit lukewarm, and that’s putting it kindly. The ordeal that surrounded it ended with Rita Ora publicly confirming her bisexuality, but also a tumultuous coming out can be a very gay experience (even if it’s one none of us should have to have). Surviving those fires makes a very strong argument for Ora’s titan status. (-CP)


EADING, ENGLAND - AUGUST 27: Katie Gavin and Josette Maskin of MUNA perform live on the main stage during day three of Reading Festival 2023 at Richfield Avenue on August 27, 2023 in Reading, England.
(Photo by Simone Joyner/Getty Images)

The band MUNA comprises three queer performers: Katie Gavin, Josette Maskin, and Naomi McPherson, who is nonbinary. Their songs often incorporate queerness, and their single “Silk Chiffon” featuring Phoebe Bridgers was basically the gay song of the summer when it came out, accompanied by a But I’m a Cheerleader-themed music video. (-KKU)

G Flip

G Flip attends the 2023 ARIA Awards at the Hordern Pavilion on November 15, 2023 in Sydney, Australia.
IOIO IMAGES / Shutterstock.com

Known in particular for their drumming (and off stage for being married to Selling Sunset’s Chrishell Stause), nonbinary Australian indie pop singer-songwriter G Flip bounced onto the scene with their debut studio album About Us in 2019. They’re definitely an up-and-comer on the indie Australian scene, winning Breakthrough Independent Artist of the Year at the Australian Independent Record Labels Association Awards in 2019. (-KKU)

Ice Spice

Franklin Sheard Jr / Shutterstock.com

Ice Spice’s “Bikini Bottom” was arguably 2023’s most infectious, inescapable Gen Z bop and when the closing lines of the second verse makes mention of Ice Spice’s bisexuality, it raised few eyebrows —a welcome turn of events from even just a few years ago, when an up-and-coming rapper who’s been on the cover of The Cut proclaiming their bisexuality would have been headline news. Instead, as Ice Spice told Lyrics Genius, “they need to know, we’re here, we’re queer, period.” PERIOD, OK!? (-CP)

Tove Lo

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - JULY 28: Tove Lo performs during 2022 Lollapalooza day one at Grant Park on July 28, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)

Two words: disco tits. I challenge you to name a more infectious queer pop song. It encapsulates what makes Tove Lo’s music so great in general. Whether singing a heartbreak ballad or a party anthem, there’s always a propulsive beat and unforgettable hook.(-DBG)


Erasure performs in Grand Rapids in 2018
Tony Norkus / Shutterstock.com

The duo, whose work “combines synth-pop, disco,cabaret,light operaand a bit of English choirboy sound” has been topping the charts since the mid 80s, with over 200 songs written and 28 million albums sold. Andy Bell faced a lot of homophobia when he came out in the late 80s, and with songs like “A Little Respect,” they advocated for LGBTQ+ rights.

Sam Smith

Sam Smith performing
Geoffrey Clowes / Shutterstock.com

British artist Sam Smith is a vocal powerhouse and the first openly non-binary musician to release a song that hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and earned a Grammy Award. After breaking through with their heart-wrenching single “Stay With Me” in 2014, they released two more studio albums before re-emerging in 2023 with a new, delightfully queer look and the incredibly hot, Grammy-Award-winning single “Unholy” with Kim Petras.


BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - MAY 26: Zolita performs during the 2023 Boston Calling Music Festival at Harvard Athletic Complex on May 26, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts.
Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images for Boston Calling

In 2015, Zolita went viral for her music video for single “Explosion.” Her music has been super queer from the beginning of her career, and in 2017 she literally put out an EP called Sappho. Her first studio album came out in 2020, followed by a second in 2024. Her queerleader-themed music video for “Somebody I Fucked Once” stars Shannon Beveridge. (-KKU)

Chappell Roan

NEW YORK CITY - FEBRUARY 15: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and musical guest Chappell Roan during Thursday's February 15, 2024 show.
Photo by Scott Kowalchyk/CBS via Getty Images

For many, Chappell Roan is the most exciting new voice in queer pop and pop in general. She followed up her first hit “Pink Pony Club” with an album of songs that invite both gay dancing and gay crying. With her drag queen aesthetic, Roan is a queer pop star who leads with that identity. There’s nothing casual about her and that’s why we’re obsessed. (-DBG)

Big Freedia

When Big Freedia comes in, so does the bass! And if Big Freedia has the mic, she will conduct that dance floor as if it’s her orchestra. In addition to bringing New Orleans bounce music to the mainstream, Big Freedia is the most prominent gender fluid, nonbinary voice in hip hop. It’s hard to imagine a queer party without her, because what would be a court without its queen? (-CP)

Dusty Springfield

Incredible vocalist Dusty Springfield was “many things: a British Invasion pioneer, a blue-eyed soul luminary, a camp icon and not least the first U.K. pop star to come out as bisexual.” She became a wildly successful solo artist in the 60s and collaborated with the Pet Shop Boys throughout the 80s.

Tunde Olaniran

DETROIT, MI - JULY 23:  Tunde Olaniran performs during the Mo Pop Festival at West Riverfront Park on July 23, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan
Photo by Scott Legato/Getty Images

Tunde Olaniran proves that pop stars don’t have to choose between songs that get people on the dance floor and songs with overt political messaging. Nobody sounds like Olaniran. They’re a totally unique artist whose work has only grown more playful and more powerful over the years.(-DBG)

Scissor Sisters

Scissor Sisters In Concert At The Roundhouse In London, Britain - 23 Oct 2012, The Scissor Sisters - Jake Shears, Ana Matronic
Scissor Sisters In Concert At The Roundhouse In London, Britain – 23 Oct 2012, The Scissor Sisters – Jake Shears, Ana Matronic (Photo by Brian Rasic/Getty Images)

Unclear which is more iconic — the song “Take Your Mama Out Tonight” or their band name (even gayer: their original name, “Dead Lesbian and the Fibrillating Scissor Sisters”). The Scissor Sisters came up in the gay nightlife scene with a style that incorporates pop rock, glam rock, electroclash and nu-disco. After the success of “Let’s Have a Kiki” in 2012, the band went on an infinite hiatus and Jake Shears went on to star in drag musical Kinky Boots.

Kim Petras

Kim petras peforming in vancouver
James Jeffrey Taylor / Shutterstock.com

Dance pop girly Kim Petras became the first openly trans solo artist to hit the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 charts with her single collaboration with Sam Smith “Unholy” in 2022. She also became the first out trans artist to win a Grammy for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance (also for “Unholy”). (-KKU)

Vivek Shraya

(Photo by Arnold Jerocki/WireImage)

Her show based on her life may be called How to Fail as a Popstar, but as far as we’re concerned Vivek Shraya has succeeded. A multi-talented multi-hyphenate, Shraya can write a killer hook as well as she can write a killer novel. Her latest album, Baby, You’re Projecting, feels like the purest example of her pop talent and signals much more to come. (-DBG)

Julia Nunes

Julia Nunes in an orange long sleeve leotard with one arm in the air
credit: Chase Burnett

After getting her start as a young artist on YouTube with a ukulele, Julia Nunes evolved into her own specific brand of indie and acoustic pop, and the only album more stunning than Some Feelings (with its absolutely delightfully queer bop “Makeout”) was its follow-up, UGHWOW.


Since Autostraddle interviewed her in 2019, Wafia has continued to release perfect pop song after perfect pop song. Her EP Good Things is the best example of this with songs like “Flowers and Superpowers” and “Hurricane.” (-DBG)


(Photo by Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock.com)

Bisexual artist Halsey has spoken openly about sexuality, gender, as well as mental health, including their bipolar diagnosis. She collaborated with fellow bisexual pop icon Lauren Jauregui on the fantastically queer single “Strangers.” They have won a GLAAD Media Award as well as three Billboard Music Awards and many other accolades.

JoJo Siwa

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 01: (FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY) JoJo Siwa attends the 2024 iHeartRadio Music Awards at Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, California on April 01, 2024. Broadcasted live on FOX. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for iHeartRadio)
(Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for iHeartRadio)

We will forgive JoJo for telling a reporter that she told her management she wanted to invent a new style of music called “gay pop” and instead note that she is part of a larger legacy and an ongoing cultural tradition. The music video for her single “Karma” is a wild glittery journey with a catchy hook and lots of girls making out on an ocean liner.

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3198 articles for us.

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  1. YAY for these folks!! Also want to mention RINA SAWAYAMA! Covering intergenerational trauma, being queer in a religious household, racism, late stage capitalism, therapy, and more, she’s a queer POWERHOUSE.

  2. Love this list! Just a heads-up, the picture of ‘Freddy Mercury’ here is not actually Queen, but a Czech cover band, Queenie! Would be nice to see an image of the real Freddy instead :)

  3. I love this so much.

    I’d def add Peaches tho!!

    Also this might be a big ask buuuut: can we have a playlist with one or a few songs from each artist????? I’d love that so much.

  4. Great list! Though I’d personally remove Sia because, even though she’s part of the community, she’s also super ableist (I’m referring to what happened with her 2021 movie “music”)
    I genuinely thought that she’d been “canceled” after that lol…

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