Songs for Your Gay Pain: A Playlist for Leaning into the Longing

As a known homosexual, my two greatest skills are yearning and making playlists. Exhibit A: In high school I made a mix CD for my crush that included “Both Hands” by Ani DiFranco, “Wicked Game” by Chris Isaac and my very own cover of “Love Song” by the Cure (recorded on Garage Band using my dad’s acoustic guitar).

Yearning is a inescapable part of the queer experience, and in this cultural context, we are yearning more than ever. We’re ending long-term relationships. We’re getting back together with exes. We’re digitally U-Hauling into a shared Google Drive in the absence of queer human touch. It hurts, but with the right soundtrack, it can hurt so good.

My personal anguish is our mutual aid. I give you Songs For Gay Pain, a Spotify playlist that will help you sink into the delicious sternum-tug of longing while you’re waiting to touch a face. Enjoy the playlist in its entirety or scroll down to find specific tracks for specific flavors of longing.

The Playlist:

Tracks by Category:

When you and your sweetie are quarantined in separate homes with no idea what your relationship will look like on the other side of a global pandemic and you’re trying to make up after that fight you had on House Party

-“Only Time Will Tell” by Etta James

-“Wherever Is Your Heart” by Brandi Carlile

-“If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys

-“Tokyo Sunrise” by LP

-That one song from Portrait Of A Lady On Fire. You know the one.

When you change the Hulu password because your girlfriend broke up with you via FaceTime

-“Crying In A Bathroom Stall” by Dyke Drama

-“Heartbeats” by The Knife

-“Dancing In The Dark” (cover) by Downtown Boys

-“Dancing On My Own” by Robyn

-“I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bonnie Rait

When you’re self-quarantined and frisky and ten seconds away from asking your hot former roommate from five years ago to “grab a drink” on Zoom

-“I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston

-“Come See About Me” by The Supremes (or the Don Covay version)

-“Lovers Lane” by Hunx & His Punx

-“Bank Head” by Kelela

-“Self Control” by Laura Branigan

When you and that hot former roommate “grabbed a drink” on Zoom and you’ve never touched and it’s only been a week, but you’re dating now

-“Come To My Window” by Melissa Etheridge

-“Closer” by Tegan and Sara

-“I Know A Place” by MUNA

-“I Will” by Mitski

-“i wanna be your girlfriend” by girl in red

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Ro White

Ro White is a Chicago-based writer and sex educator. Follow Ro on Twitter.

Ro has written 105 articles for us.


  1. Haha, this is great! It’s so true, “Yearning is a inescapable part of the queer experience.”

    Okay, but do you have any songs for, “When self-quarantining while living alone is triggering your baggage around intimacy, so you’re intensely yearning to have someone in your life who you’d trust enough to touch so that you could be yearning for them instead of sitting alone with all your complicated body feelings”? Then again, maybe that’s just me, lol.

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