A big aspect of LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, queer) pride is self-determination and growing into your full self despite outside obstacles.
This can be a confusing process, especially when folks are navigating the politics of gender and sexuality. Luckily, scholars and activists have created more language for people to understand their sexuality in a way that’s healthy and empowering.
For some people, “gay” or “lesbian” is enough to define who they are. For others, words like “pansexual” or “bi-sexual” get the job done. Then there are those who’d rather not use labels to define their sexuality.
For the sake of political movements, “queer” is one word that’s been used as an umbrella term for anyone who defies cis-heteronormative standards of loving and living.
With that in mind, there are a lot of queer singers who have been defining their sexuality for years.
For some, it’s political.
For others, it’s a story.
Then there are a few singers who simultaneously acknowledge the labels but also want their full selves acknowledged with all its layers and colors.
Check out how classic singers defined their sexuality below, ranging from artists who’ve been in the game for a minute to new classic artists who continue to inspire the world with their music.
1. Rahsaan PattersonSource:Getty
“I’ve never been in the closet or hiding anything. For me, it has always been maintaining the privacy of what I do with the people I do it with, whoever it is. Just because you don’t know what I’m doing doesn’t mean that I’m trying to keep something from you. The people that know me like my family, my friends and the people I am intimate with, they know, and that’s what matters to me.”
– The Daily Voice, 2009
2. Meshell NdegeocelloSource:Getty
“I’m sexually functional with both genders. If I choose to be with this one, who knows what the future holds? It’s such a weird concept to me that it’s so important to how you judge my music or my character or anything about me. I’m never assuming what heterosexual people are doing.”
– The Boombox, 2014
3. Kenny Greene
“Yeah, I’m homosexual…Well, I’m bisexual. I had two girlfriends.”
– Sister 2 Sister, 2001
4. Frank OceanSource:Getty
“4 summers ago, I met somebody. I was 19 years old. He was too. We spent that summer, and the summer after, together. Everyday almost. And on the days we were together, time would glide. Most of the day I’d see him, and his smile. I’d hear his conversation and his silence…until it was time to sleep. Sleep I would often share with him. By the time I realized I was in love, it was malignant. It was hopeless. There was no escaping, no negotiating with the feeling. No choice. It was my first love, it changed my life.”
– Tumblr, 2012
“I don’t have to compromise my sexuality, spirituality, or my artistic presentation. They are all a part of the contradictions that makes us all. I just publicly wear them.”
6. Janelle MonáeSource:Getty
“Being a queer black woman in America, someone who has been in relationships with both men and women – I consider myself to be a free-ass motherf*cker.”
– Rolling Stone, 2018
“I had to learn how oppression works in the music industry, specific to my experience as a black woman, as a queer black woman. It just took a lot of time to adjust to that experience.”
“I love love, and that love lies in every gender there is.”