Happy Pride Month, Toronto!
This month is all about celebrating LGBTQ+ folks, and what better way to do that than by listening to some queer musicians? From music giants like St. Vincent to up-and-coming power houses like King Princess, there are so many LGBTQ+ musicians to listen to as a celebration of Pride.
Here are 14 LGBTQ+ artists to check out for Pride Month below.
St. Vincent (also known as Annie Clark) is a queer, genre-bending powerhouse with elaborate rock anthems that come filled to the brim with killer guitar riffs. Over the years, Clark’s music has truly grown along a beautiful trajectory, eventually landing on MASSEDUCTION, which brings her peculiar set of art-rock tunes into the realm of pop and radio. St. Vincent isn’t afraid to pave her own path, creating her very own genre of socially aware, gritty, powerful tracks that’s sure to resonate with a huge audience.
In 2012, Frank Ocean posted a statement on his Tumblr where he revealed that he was queer. The piece, which was supposed to come as part of the liner notes for Channel Orange, sees Ocean discussing how he’s fallen in love with a man. “I feel like a free man,” Ocean wrote in the statement. “If I listen closely.. I can hear the sky falling too.” Ocean’s music is a perfect blend of R&B, hip hop, rock, pop, and funk, and makes for a delicate, smooth exploration of materialism, addiction, and heartache.
Mikaela Straus, who goes by the moniker King Princess, has used LGBTQ+ art to come to terms with her own identity, and she’s not afraid to be loud about it, as you can hear on her queer love song, “1950.” “I’ve always been kind of a genderqueer person,” Straus explains in an interview with Them. “It’s something I kind of came into later ’cause I didn’t really think about it as an identity as much as the way it had to do with the people I loved and the way I dressed…I like that I can ride that line on the periphery of femininity. I don’t always have to be an active participant. I think that’s really freeing.
Brockhampton has been exploding onto the music scene this year, and band member Kevin Abstract is no exception. Abstract’s 2016 album, American Boyfriend, is an entire record that chronicles the highs and lows of two high-school students in a same-sex relationship. Abstract almost feels like the next generation’s Frank Ocean, with his dreamy tracks like “Empty” and “Echo.”
Lesbian Australian slack-rocker Courtney Barnett makes some of the best grooves for a lazy Sunday afternoon. With songs that let her deadpan story-telling take the lead, Barnett is a particularly fascinating artist with a unique vibe that you’re going to want to play on repeat. From describing an allergic reaction in “Avant Gardener” to exploring themes of depression and self-hate on “Everybody Here Hates You,” Barnett’s refined songwriting will definitely stick with you.
Blood Orange frontman Dev Hynes is a young queer Black man who writes about expansive themes like his Afro-Caribbean ancestry, his British youth, and his difficult relationship with masculinity and femininity. “[Freetown Sound] is for everyone told they’re not black enough, too black, too queer, not queer the right way, the underappreciated, it’s a clapback,” Hynes wrote of his third album as Blood Orange on Instagram.
Canada’s Austra is led by frontwoman Katie Stelmanis, who identifies as lesbian, and their tunes are packed with cries for tolerance and reminders of the importance of persevering in the midst of political darkness. Although we haven’t received new tunes since 2017’s Future Politics, Austra is definitely a band you’ve got to listen to this month, with their anthemic, ethereal cries for a brighter future.
K.Flay recently came out after posting a photo with her partner, songwriter Miya Folick, on Instagram in honour of both pride month and their anniversary. “Everything is bigger and better and brighter now,” the “Bad Vibes” artist wrote in the post. K.Flay is definitely a must-listen, and her forthcoming album Solutions drops next month. “When I got home from tour, I was in a dark place,” K.Flay explained of the themes on the album in a statement. “Eventually, I made a decision to focus on the things that actually make me happy: walking around my neighbourhood, drawing in notebooks with markers, talking to my mom on the phone. I thought, ‘What did I do as a kid to be happy?’”
Memphis-born lesbian indie-rocker is a must-have on all of your sad rock playlists, as most of her tunes come packed with moments of release and a balance of heart-wrenching melodies and wailing vocal lines. Baker’s melancholic records both explore and chronicle the artist’s deepest struggles with depression, substance-abuse, and the process of reconciling her religion with her sexual identity.
Just like Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus is another member of Boygenius, and she also identifies as LGBTQ+. This sad indie icon really knows how to write a heartbreak power ballad, especially on her hit track, “Night Shift,” which builds exponentially until Dacus wails lines like, “You got a nine to five, so I’ll take the night shift/ And I’ll never see you again if I can help it/ In five years I hope the songs feel like covers/ Dedicated to new lovers.”
Dream-pop duo Girlpool have served as queer icons ever since their rise to fame with 2015’s Before the World Was Big. Band member Cleo Tucker is a gender fluid artist that identifies with they/them pronouns. “As far as queerness goes, or at least, my queerness goes, it’s a part of me,” Tucker stated in an interview with Brooklyn Magazine. “Girlpool is a thousand million infinite variables and that’s just one of them.”
Tash Sultana is a queer Australian rocker who promotes and embraces gender fluidity. Not only does Sultana encourage acceptance through a feminist lens, but their do-it-yourself attitude when it comes to music is unmatched. The multi-instrumentalist’s recent album Flow State is packed with groovy, eclectically soulful tunes that break down genres by combining reggae, R&B, and calypso influences through a heavily guitar-driven rock.
Toronto-based indie pop star Lowell is the LGBT+ icon you didn’t know you needed. In fact, Lowell even has a relaxing, feel-good tune titled “LGBT” that encourages inclusivity and the importance of embracing love, no matter what it looks like. The openly bisexual artist sings straightforward, yet vulnerable lyrics like, “Don’t take out your misery on me/ On me, on me/ I’m happy, I’m happy/ And free, and free.”
Deerhunter frontman Bradford Cox identifies as queer, but more specifically as asexual. Cox has learned to hone his uniqueness and individuality, embracing his “otherness” to create the wonderfully obscure sound of Deerhunter. This individuality really comes to the forefront on the band’s recently released nostalgic record, Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? The album sees a partially softly sprawling, yet partially hostile and anxious theme, almost combining their previous studio records into one. The record is a perfect isolation of modern loneliness, while simultaneously seeking out a sort of confirmation in others.