With Ireland saying yes to same-sex marriage through popular vote and June being celebrated as Pride month at some places, we bring you a list of the ten most visible contemporary LGBTQ+ musicians:
1. Sam Smith
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The 22 year old young and polished British singer/songwriter, who burst onto the music scene with collaborations with artists like Naughty Boy (on “La La La”), is comfortable talking about his sexuality (gay) publicly and makes no nuances of the fact that his debut album, the wildly acclaimed “In The Lonely Hour” has songs based on his experiences of unrequited love with a man.
2014 was undoubtedly Sam Smith’s year as his debut album topped charts globally and earned him six Grammy nominations out of which he won four in February 2015.
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Notoriously shy and startlingly eccentric, Sia has been around the music scene for a long time as a singer and a songwriter but started getting recognition in the past few years with her collaborations with David Guetta on ‘Titanium’ and other musicians. Surprisingly, Sia wasn’t pleased with the success of ‘Titanium’ because she’d taken the decision to retire as a singer and work just as a songwriter. David Guetta had released the song with her demo vocals on it.
Sia claims to have always been open about having dated both boys and girls and puts the recent talk about her sexuality down to the fact that she only became popular recently. She married documentary filmmaker Erik Anders Lang in 2014.
3. Billie Joe Armstrong
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Fronting Green Day, which is probably one of the most important punk rock band in the history of music, Billie Joe Armstrong is a very influential figure in the industry. Green Day’s songs have always been known for their punk-revivalist tunes and often outspoken, politically charged lyrics (Remember American Idiot?). Other than Green Day and music, Billie Joe is also known as an actor and a songwriter. He identifies as a bisexual. He said in a 1995 interview, “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.”
He, along with the rest of Green Day were inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame earlier this year. Billie Joe has been married to Adrienne Nesser since 1994 after he met her at one of the band’s early performances.
4. Lady Gaga
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It’s difficult to judge what Lady Gaga is known more for: her pop-with-a-twist music or her outlandishly creative ensembles. Whichever of the two it might be, it’s safe to say that she has been one of the most visible names in pop music in recent years. Lady Gaga identifies as a bisexual and has widely talked about being attracted to both men and women. Brought up in a suppressive catholic environment, she has mentioned going on an experimenting spree with everything about her personality as soon as she felt she was free enough. Interestingly, her popular song ‘Poker Face’ is about her bisexual identity.
5. Frank Ocean
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Frank started his career as a ghost-songwriter for other industry bigwigs like John Legend and Justin Bieber. His own singing career took off with a debut mixtape which was received with critical acclaim. His sexuality became a topic of discussion with the release of his debut album “Channel Orange”. Several people noted that a few songs seemed to be inspired by experiences of being in love with the same sex. He answered the growing rumours by coming out publicly through an emotional post on his Tumblr account. He talked about falling in love with a male friend at the age of 19 and the experience being as jarring as it was revelationary. His debut album channelled his emotions as he tried to come to terms with this new found realisation.
Frank Ocean was one of the first major African-American musicians to publicly talk about his sexuality. His new album is due for release later this year.
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Never one to keep her opinions guarded, Halsey is a force to be reckoned with in the music industry. Ashley Nicolette Frangipane, known by her stage name Halsey (which is, interestingly enough, an anagram of her first name) is a biracial and bisexual American musician. The blue-haired songstress is known for her hitting lyrics, soulful music and outspoken views about gender, sexuality and body positivity. Riding high on the success of her EP “Room 93″, Halsey is set to release her much awaited debut album “Ghostlands” in August this year. She recently released a video of a remastered version of her popular song ‘Ghost’, which features her in an intimate relationship with another woman.
Halsey is currently dating Norwegian hip-hop artist Lido.
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Mika’s brand of heady pop hit the music scene in 2007. The Lebanese-British singer’s debut album “Life in Cartoon Motion” won him a Brit, a Grammy and several admirers. His sexuality has always been shrouded in mystery and rumours, with the singer often refusing to label himself. Known for his flamboyant style of clothes and music, Mika said in an interview in 2009, “Call me whatever you want. Call me bisexual, if you need a term for me.” He came out as gay publicly in 2012 during the run-up to his third studio album. According to him, his music helped him find the strength to come to terms with his sexuality beyond the scope of his lyrics. Interestingly, the lyrics on his 2012 record ‘The Origins of Love’ are based on his trysts with men.
Mika’s fourth album, titled “No Placed in Heaven”, released on June 15.
8. Lynn Gunn
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Leading one of the most promising alternative rock bands of recent years, Lynn Gunnulfsen (shortened to Lynn Gunn) is gaining momentum with excellent reviews on PVRIS’s debut album “White Noise” and her soulful, edgy vocals. Lynn came to terms with her sexuality and was inspired to pursue music when she attended a Paramore concert, led by the effervescent Hayley Williams, in grade 7.
Lynn is currently dating Alexa San Roman of the band “Love, Robot”.
9. Ricky Martin
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Ricky Martin is often credited for the Latin pop explosion of 1990s with his wildly popular song “Livin’ La Vida Loca”. He’s been in the music scene since the early 90s but became popular after performing the “Cup of Life” at the 41st Grammy Awards show. His sexuality was always a topic of discussion due to his large gay following. Ricky came out out publicly through a post on his official website, stating, “I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man. I am very blessed to be who I am.”
According to him, it was the birth of his twin sons in 2008 (born by a surrogate mother) that prompted him to acknowledge his sexuality.
10. Tyler Glenn
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Frontman of the pop-band Neon Trees, Tyler Glynn knew he was gay since he was about six years old but came out publicly only very recently. Being brought up in the conservative town of Utah and raised in a Mormon household, the flamboyant singer kept his sexuality under the covers till it threatened to choke his spirit. Building the new-wave band up from scratch while struggling with keeping his sexuality closeted took it’s toll on Tyler, who took his experiences and penned songs for the band.
He came out publicly in an interview with ‘Rolling Stone’, narrating his experiences as a young Mormon homosexual who was teased for his now-famous outfits and tried relationships with women while pining after a male friend.