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Queer: bands

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Most people know those members of the GLBT community which are musical, or pseudo-political advocates. Individuals like Madonna, Lady Gaga and Elton John are a few of those who consistently speak on behalf of queer people all over the world, and they raise money to support lawmakers, charities and groups whose purpose is to spread equality, knowledge, love and respect in different arenas of every day life. But as mentioned before, simply being openly queer in the public eye is a huge form of activism.

Those individuals in music, sports, film, and public office whose faces and personas become bigger than life, making others feel as if they know them, have a huge platform on which to present normalcy, honesty, and individuality.

See the list of young/current music artists who have openly discussed gender and sexuality.

Most of those openly queer individuals, in this case who are in the music industry, tend to be soloists: Boy George, Ani DiFranco, Ricky Martin, Frank Ocean, Mary Lambert, Zebra Katz, to name a few. Yet there are queer people everywhere! Of course most of us know that already, but in case some need a reminder here is a short compiled list of big, medium and small bands whose members are openly queer and making being a rockstar that much more empowering.

Antony Hegarty
Antony Hegarty Sarah Moon

Antony Hegarty

Antony Hegarty is the front-member of Antony and The Johnsons. Recently, they were featured on The Hunger Games: Catching Fire soundtrack. The always open queer and trans musician has also been a member of dance project Hercules and Love Affair, fronted by DJ Andy Butler.

Babbydaddy, Jake Shears, Del Marquis
Babbydaddy, Jake Shears, Del Marquis Polydor Records

Babbydaddy, Jake Shears, Del Marquis

Scissor Sisters, once a fivesome now a foursome, came into the scene in 2004. Their debut album became the best-selling album of the year in the UK. Their international success has yet to be matched in their home country (US), where they have a cult following. All the male members of the band, Del Marquis and creators Babydaddy and Jake Shears, are openly gay.

Babydaddy and Jake Shears have gone to compose, write and perform with artists like Kylie Minogue and Cher.

Watch the music video for "Fire with Fire".

Beth Ditto
Beth Ditto Mary McCartney

Beth Ditto

Beth Ditto is the lead singer of Washington-based band, The Gossip. Ditto is open about being a lesbian and is a huge advocate for gender and beauty equality. She is also great friends with Ana Matronic, of Scissor Sisters. In 2011, she released the Beth Ditto EP. The band released Joyful Noise in 2012.

"Heavy Cross" is featured heavily on Charlize Theron-fronted Dior advertisements.

JD Samson
JD Samson Universal Records

JD Samson

New York City band Le Tigre released three albums, including their last, The Island, in 2004. Kathleen Hanna is married to Beastie Boys member, Adam Horovitz, or Ad-Rock.

JD Samson and Johanna Fateman founded another queer band called MEN. The band has written with other artists, including Christina Aguilera for Bionic track, the Peaches-assisted "My Girls".

Openly queer JD also made an appearance in John Cameron Mitchell's Shortbus, in 2006.

Jamie McDermott
Jamie McDermott Wayne Fox Photography

Jamie McDermott

The Irrepressibles is a British band whose beautiful orchestral arrangements and queer-themes lyrical content have given them a steady cult following. Their debut album, Mirror Mirror, is a collection of 12 baroque pop songs produced by Dimitri Tikovoi and William Turner Duffin, and written by Jamie McDermott.

Jamie, who now calls himself Jamie Irrepressible, is openly gay and the fact makes the lyrics more personal and inspiring. He told ExPatriarch in 2013 about being a musical activist 'There are people getting killed for being gay! As soon as you’re a gay artist and you make music and you distribute it internationally, you’re immediately being political, just by being honest. It’s not trying to be political, it’s just being honest.'

Watch the music video for "Two Men in Love".

Bianca Casady
Bianca Casady City Island

Bianca Casady

CocoRosie consists of sisters Sierra and Bianca Casady. The band has released five studio albums and have a great cult following, especially in Europe. Bianca, openly queer, spoke to a few years ago and said 'I am surprised, to tell you the truth, that people don't talk about it more. Maybe we are still living in such a homophobic culture that people [who] like me don't want to hear about it. I find it interesting that as a 'female' artist in this time, I can go in complete drag on a regular basis and nobody really notices, where as an artist like Antony Hegarty was torn apart about his transexuality in all of the first major articles written about him'.

The sisters have worked with Antony many times in tracks like "Beautiful Boyz" and "Tearz for Animals".

Watch the music video for "Child Bride".

Maja Ivarsson
Maja Ivarsson Sebastian Phofessional Hair

Maja Ivarsson

Lead singer of Swedish punk band The Sounds, Maja Ivarsson, has not been shy about her queerness. The strong female image follows her from stage shows, to music videos. When the band opened a tour for No Doubt she was dating a woman. Even though they ended their romantic relationship, Maja speaks candidly about it.

In 2011 she told Windy City Times 'I have only had one girlfriend in my whole life. We are not together anymore. I don't think I will date another girl. At the same time, when I met her I totally fell in love with her. We had a great relationship but it ended really badly. I think with many lesbian relationships there is a curse where you become best friends more than lovers. That is what happened with us. We are not in the sexual relationship anymore. We had more of a friendship. If I meet someone and fall in love with them then I am going date them no matter what the gender. If I fall in love with someone then I am going to go for it. I can honestly say I am leaning more towards boys than women. But that girl was so beautiful. Anybody would have fallen in love with her. She was like a Brigitte Bardot and stunning.'

The band recently released, Weekend, and are taking their tour on a North American leg this spring.

Watch the music video for "Dance With The Devil".

Fred Schneider, Keith Strickland
Fred Schneider, Keith Strickland Astralwerks

Fred Schneider, Keith Strickland

The B-52s are a great American band. Since their late-seventies debut, they have released seven studio albums. Many life and musical moments have changed and shaped its current line-up. But both male members are openly gay; Fred Schneider and Keith Strickland.

The band has amassed four top 20 albums. The band's iconic status is in many ways thanks to their songs "Roam" and "Love Shack".

Tyler Glenn
Tyler Glenn Hael Friberg/Rollins Stone Magazine

Tyler Glenn

Neon Trees, the Utah-based band, is on the brink of releasing their new album, Pop Psychology. This will follow their successful sophomore album, Picture Show. The album spawned the hit "Everybody Talks", which hit number-six in the Hot 100.

Tyler Gleen, the frontman, came out publicly this year via a Rolling Stone magazine interview. In it he said 'I've always felt like I'm an open book, and yet obviously I haven't been completely. I had my crushes on guys throughout high school, but it was never an overwhelming thing until my twenties." When it comes to his Mormon background he added "We were always taught, and I hate this word, 'tolerance'. The only time I felt different was when the Pop 8 thing came up.'

Austra Paperbag Records


Austra, the Canadian and queer band, released their second album Olympia to critical-acclaim. Frontwoman Katie Stelmanis has spoken about being a lesbian. After Ellen conducted an interview with Katie in March 2011 where they discussed her comment of wanting to be in a gay band. When asked she replied “I’d like to say that being a gay band means being gay and being in a band but most of my band mates are gay and we’ve never really had that classification. I’m not sure if it’s based on the type of music we make or the community we come from, but I’ve always wondered why we seem to be exempt from that label. It probably has to do with the fact there are a lot of stereotypes of what a gay band (particularly lesbian-identified band) should sound like and we don’t really fit in with those stereotypes, which is confusing.”

Andy Butler
Andy Butler ZOO Magazine by Hadley Hudson Photography

Andy Butler

Andy Butler is a DJ who has put together Hercules and Love Affair, ever since 2004. The band has included Antony Hegarty, and will release a new EP, The Feast of a Broken Heart, next month.

The band is currently touring in Europe.

Village People
Village People Casablanca Records

Village People

Village People are still going. The band tours regularly and released a dance album last year. Most of the members have changed since their start circa 1977. From their current and former fifteen members came David Hodo, the late Glenn Hughes and NYC-socialite Randy Jones. Three of its current members are from the original line-up.

The band has become an iconic disco/gay band and since the late seventies, have sold over 100 million records worldwide. 


Elly Jackson
Elly Jackson Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Elly Jackson

Elly Jackson is one half of duo La Roux. Despite fighting rumors of being a lesbian around 2009, in 2011 she mentioned in an interview that she feels she is genderqueer; meaning, she does not identify with one gender over the other.

She said 'I don't have a sexuality. I don't feel like I'm female or male. I don't belong to the gay or straight society, if there is such a thing. I feel like I'm capable of falling in love with other people. I'm not saying I'm bisexual, I'm just sexual! Of course, I can appreciate other women. Beyonce is beautiful. I find men or women sexy. The Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal is hot and I've always fancied James Dean - but, weirdly, I want to look like the people I fancy.'

The band's highly-anticipated sophomore album will be released next month (May 2014).

Indigo Girls
Indigo Girls Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Indigo Girls

Amy Ray and Emily Sailers, the duo which makes up Indigo Girls, are both lesbians. The band has never hidden the fact and have a wonderful following which has expanded since their first release in 1987. Since, they have released thirteen albums.

They have landed ten top 40 albums. In 2005 they were featured on P!nk's open letter to then US President George W. Bush, "Dear Mr. President". The song hit the top spot in Belgium, Germany and Austria. It landed in the top 10 in other eight charts from 2006 through 2009.

Billie Joe Armstrong
Billie Joe Armstrong Photo by Karl Walter

Billie Joe Armstrong

Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong has spoken about thinking of himself as bisexual for years. In the nineties he told The Advocate 'I think I've always been bisexual. I mean, it's something that I've always been interested in. I think people are born bisexual, and it's just that our parents and society kind of veer us off into this feeling of 'Oh, I can't.' They say it's taboo. It's ingrained in our heads that it's bad, when it's not bad at all. It's a very beautiful thing.'

In 2010 he told Out magazine 'There were a lot of people who didn't accept it, who were homophobic. The fact that it's an issue is kind of phobic within itself. At some point, you gotta think, this should be something that's just accepted. I don't really classify myself as anything. And when it comes to sex, there are parts of me that are very shy and conservative.'

Green Day has accumulated two number-one albums, a number-one video, and nine number-one US Alternative singles. The band has sold over seventy-five million records worldwide, including twenty-five million in the US. 

Kele Okereke
Kele Okereke Zak Hussein/Getty Images

Kele Okereke

The UK-born singer, whose parents are Igbo Nigerian, fronts the band Bloc Party. The band has achieved platinum status with their first two albums, and managed to chart within the UK top 10 with all of their four studio albums. In the US, they have charted two top 20 albums and another top 40 entry. His 2010 solo album, The Boxer, peaked at #20 in the UK.

He told The Observer in 2007 about their single [["I Still Remember"]]: '[Is it autobiographical?] Not really...I guess, partially. [Can we call it a gay love story?] Yeah, but is it a love story? It's one person longing for somebody they can't really have. But it's not consummated. It's not a mutual thing. This is probably a contentious issue, but I swear that I could always see [male homosexual attraction] in people, in the way that guys would need to be touching other guys. You could see there was something they couldn't say aloud. And I saw it when I was at school. And I guess I Still Remember is an attempt at trying to confront that. I know from my own experiences a lot of heterosexual boys had feelings or experiences when they were younger. And that's not really ever spoken about, that un-spoken desire. Not two gay boys but the idea of two straight boys having an attraction, or there being an attraction that's unspeakable - that was the idea of that song'.

In 2010 he said he considers himself a gay man via BUTT and Attitude magazines.

Bloc Party's videos incorporate a great amount of visual effects. Watch [["Ratchet"]], [["Octopus"]], and [["The Pioneers"]].


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