Idol Worship: My Favorite Cher Songs

Welcome to Idol Worship, a biweekly devotional to whoever the fuck I’m into. This is a no-holds-barred lovefest for my favorite celebrities, rebels and biker chicks; women qualify for this column simply by changing my life and/or moving me deeply. This week I’m basking in all things Cher because she reminds me of New Jersey, DC, and myself – no matter when I was.

Header by Rory Midhani

One of the first CD’s I ever purchased with my own money was Cher’s Living Proof in 2001. I was 11 years old. I had no inkling then that Cher would continue to be a part of my life, but I’m damn happy I got an early start on appreciating her.


Cher made headlines this weekend by performing at New York City’s star-studded Pride weekend, all of which occurred while I was getting kicked out of a bar in Brooklyn. She rolled up at 2 AM and performed her newest song, “Woman’s World.” No performance at such an event would have been complete, however, without an homage to the LGBT humans who make her status a pop icon possible:

Cher, standing below a giant neon LED signature of her name, told the crowd. “My first gay friend was when I was 9 years old — and I said this on Twitter — but I thought gay was a code word for fun.”

She went on to thank her gay fans, saying, “I have had ups and downs in my career, and you guys have never left me. I was out, I was uncool, I was a has-been, whatever the [bleep].”

She added, “You guys have always been there . . . You’ve kept me in sequins.”

Cher’s come a long way as a gay advocate and activist, as well as a gay icon. Her biggest learning experience when it comes to navigating LGBT issues has obviously been her relationship with Chaz, her trans* son. When Chaz initially came out as a lesbian, Cher admitted to struggling with the news – but come hell or high water, she was determined to work through her fucked-up internal script and be a supporting and loving parent. Now, her son is out and proud and she is outspoken and loud about the inequalities he has been facing for years as an LGBT person on this planet we call Earth.

Before the personal became political, however, Cher had already been cemented a gay icon. Gay men have always loved her, and let’s face it –  she’s fucking fabulous. Costume changes, hair changes, theatrics and dramatics, an acting career on the side, longevity and songs about perseverance made it hard for any queers to stray from her side. Cher has a Wikipedia page dedicated only to her role as a gay icon. I’m not even fucking around.


Now, Cher’s status as best friend to all things queer is indisputable: she’s keynoted by PFLAG, received honors from GLAAD and the Advocate, and carries the title of “the number one greatest thing about being gay.” Word.

Personally, Cher played a major part in my own coming out – but not in the same way as, say, Madonna or the way Madonna looks rubbing sand on her body. None of Cher’s songs ever made me “realize I was gay,” but they did make me feel normal; Cher’s lyrics about love have always been inherently assigned to the LGBT community out of mere association and her songs have long been meant to appeal to troves of gay human beings, and whenever I needed a vocabulary they were there to help with finding words. When I was straight and couldn’t relate to songs about wanting to be with men, and didn’t know why, I found solace in her songs about being independent and strong and a woman, and that being enough. When I hear her on the radio I remember my mother, my friends, pride parades, summer camp, shitty 80’s movies I watched reruns of on TV. Cher’s always been a part of my life. She’s always liked me no matter who the fuck I was in the morning.

Cher’s role as Mother To All Queers is good enough reason for every single human being reading this article to sit down, shut the fuck up, and listen to some goddamn pop music. So let’s do that.


I loved Cher as a kid because “Believe” was all over the radio and that song was my mom’s fucking jam. Chalk it up to her single mom status, but “Believe” was right up there with “You Oughta Know” and “Torn” as one of the songs my mom would raise the volume for and sing along to on our road trips to restaurants and shopping centers in Nowherseville, New Jersey. I remember being really struck by Cher’s voice because it was deep. I always liked women who had deep voices because I could really sound like them when I belted out their words in my mom’s Volkswagon Jetta.

“Song for the Lonely”

Amanda and I once listened to this song together by accident and it was the first time someone else I knew really, genuinely, liked Cher. I didn’t feel weird anymore. I recommend that everyone find someone else who likes Cher. Keep them in your life.

“If I Could Turn Back Time”

I was once watching a documentary or something on E!, probably, about Cher, and this song stayed in my head for years until I learned how to actually obtain music on the Internet. It’s very strangely wise and the music is killer.

“Strong Enough”

When I was a teenage feminist, “Strong Enough” was my anthem. Plus, my mom really likes disco and therefore I do, too, and this particular song is just very disco.

“The Shoop Shoop Song”

Every single time I listen to this I’m just as interested in finding out how you know if he loves you so.

“I Got You Babe”

I think this is the sweetest love song of all time.

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Carmen spent six years at Autostraddle, ultimately serving as Straddleverse Director, Feminism Editor and Social Media Co-Director. She is now the Consulting Digital Editor at Ms. and writes regularly for DAME, the Women’s Media Center, the National Women’s History Museum and other prominent feminist platforms; her work has also been published in print and online by outlets like BuzzFeed, Bitch, Bust, CityLab, ElixHER, Feministing, Feminist Formations, GirlBoss, GrokNation, MEL, Mic and SIGNS, and she is a co-founder of Argot Magazine. You can find Carmen on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr or in the drive-thru line at the nearest In-N-Out.

Carmen has written 919 articles for us.


  1. “I recommend that everyone find someone else who likes Cher. Keep them in your life.”

    This is beautiful advice.

  2. I have always adored Cher as well. Although I have yet to find anyone who likes her quite as much as I do, I will still avidly listen to her. Also people sleep on her acting career. There is no way I could have finished Burlesque if she wasn’t in it (that is a lie they weren’t wearing pants I would have made it though). That low rich voice can shake your bones.

  3. I LOVE THIS. “Turn Back Time” is my ultimate karaoke jam. Also, “Gypsies Tramps and Thieves” is one of the most ridiculous/best songs ever.

  4. I love that your mom turns the radio up for “You oughta know”.

    I have some fun memories associated with the shoop shoop song. From when I was like 8

  5. Omg!! I love this so much. My mom basically raised me on Cher, Kiss, and Melissa Etheridge so Cher’s music is dear to my heart. I remember listening to “Believe” like a million times on repeat after my first “boyfriend” dumped me (I was 12 and at that age, everything is tragic). Also, my lifetime excuse for never learning to ski (even though I was raised in a place where there’s snow for 7 months out of the year)is that Sonny Bono died skiing. Pretty much, the moral of the story is YAY CHER! I LOVE YOU (and I really miss Sonny). And YAY YOU because this article if fucking awesome.

  6. This is so beautifully timed. I’m ashamed to say I’ve never really listened to Cher before, but her new song is basically my favorite thing in the entire world right now, so I’ve made it a mission to sit down and listen to her entire discography. I don’t know how I’ve missed out on all of this fabulousness all these years. This is just like when I discovered Queen in my senior year of high school. It’s like, why did it take so long, self???

  7. This is the best. I was brought up watching Cher’s farewell concert DVD with my mum whenever she was a bit drunk and nostalgic. When I was probably 12 I remember her informing me of Cher’s status as a gay icon when it showed all the men in leather chaps in the audience haha
    Also, I recently got a text from my mum just saying ‘Cher is the biggest diva’ so this article is aptly timed.

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