Out In Song

Beyond Macklemore: Five Out LGBT Artists You Should Be Listening To

The Macklemore and Ryan Lewis marriage equality anthem “Same Love” certainly blew up in 2013 and led to what could possibly be the gayest moment ever at the Grammys.

However, they follow in the long tradition of out LGBT musicians who’ve been both exploring LGBT themes and identity via song and sometimes just having a bit of fun while being out at the same time.

Here are five out LGBT musicians that are definitely worth a listen.

Frank Ocean has still never publicly embraced or even confirmed the B in LGBT, but his admission that an early heartbreaking romantic experience was with a man rocked the music industry in 2012 and set the anticipation for his debut album to a fever pitch. After years of mixtapes and writing for artists like Beyonce, Ocean’s debut Channel Orange arrived and delivered.

The album’s lush melodies and tales of class struggle in his early L.A. days are capped off beautifully with the closer “Forrest Gump,” which has got to be the first explicitly gay love song ever to be released in mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop. Ocean won a Grammy for Channel Orange and is expected to drop his second album sometime in 2014.



Cazwell may not be the first white rapper, or the first gay rapper, or even the first white gay rapper, but he’s the only one we know of. What he lacks in raw lyrical skills he more than makes up with in his humor and tongue-in-cheek delivery.

He’s often shirtless in his videos (if you’re into that kind of thing and we think you are) and includes many local go-go boy fixtures from the NYC gay scene in them. In “Rice and Beans” he professes his love for Latino men while being flanked by, what else, twerking Latino go-go boys. It’s an enterprise that would be vaguely offensive if it weren’t so good natured, totally hot, and strangely innocent.



Former Villanova basketball player turned rapper Will Sheridan mixes hard club beats with an aggressive masculinity and sexuality that makes for something entirely different from the gender-bending motifs of other queer black rappers. His music is dark, sexy, and a little dangerous, made even more so by his imposing 6’8 frame (which, we assure you, is quite the sight in person).

In “S.O.A.P. (Sex On A Platter)” he raps about (what else?) hooking up in the steam room, something which we’re sure none of our readers know anything about. In his live performances, the persona becomes a little more playful. If it all gets a bit too aggressive for you, there’s always this awesome video of him dancing to ‘Yonce’s “Partition.”



In a perfect world, lesbian singer Ariana Castelli‘s single “Love Is Love” would’ve been as big as (if not bigger) than “Same Love.” It’s more fun, more pop, and plays more like a club banger than a maudlin history lesson. The message is simple, direct, and delivered by an out lesbian over a beat that is just ’90s enough to be fashionably retro but not ’90s enough that it sounds dated. Give it a full minute and you’ll be as hooked as we are.



Oh, Azealia Banks, what more is there to say about you? The bisexual rapper blazed onto the scene with viral hit 212 and for a moment was unstoppable. She was a fashion darling, released daring and unconventional videos and mixtapes, the gays loved her, and we all just knew she’d be the next female rapper after Nicki Minaj to become a mainstream superstar.

But that didn’t happen. Because Azaelia likes twitter. A lot. First this happened. Then this. Then there was this and most recently this. We’d rather not write her obituary yet, but with nary a street date in sight for her long delayed debut album Broke With Expensive Taste and a long rumored duet with Lady Gaga nixed because of her “bad attitude” we don’t have high hopes for the future.

Still, we leave you with “Luxury” in the hopes that one day the tart-tongued bi-girl gets it together.

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  • AlexM

    Way to promote someone who loves to say faggot every five seconds.

  • getbackjoe94

    Azealia Banks is awful. Perhaps she should make a career off her music (which she already can’t do) instead of starting crap with random artists.

  • DistingueTraces

    Were you throwing shade on purpose by leaving out Le1f?

  • Stefan

    Why are they all black? Azealia Banks is a gay basher.

  • adamsinger

    6. John Grant
    (amazing!! and different)

  • jimbryant

    Let’s make this clear : openly gay male or bisexual acts will never succeed on the Top 10 singles chart in America. Liberals won’t support them.

    Liberals are homophobic. They fear male homosexual acts. Liberal men and their bisexual female enablers are phobic towards the male homosexual act.

    The greatest mistake the American gay male community made was to enter into a contract with liberalism. Liberalism is about turning women into bisexual prostitutes for the benefit of straight guys. It serves the sense of entitlement of straight guys.

    To liberals, male homosexual acts represent a threat to this sense of entitlement of straight guys as well as to the right of women to prostitute themselves in a bisexual way to straight guys.

  • Stefan

    John Grant is amazing–but not black. Eric Himan is a fantastic out artist–not black. @jimbryant, Adam Lambert.

  • Tony Johnston

    Glad to see Azealia on the list. No Nicki Minaj though? Both are openly bisexual (long before anyone even knew what a Macklemore was). They’re often overlooked when people talk about how there are no popular out LGBT rappers that are any good.

  • davidwesleyhorn

    How about a shout out to Tom Goss and Jay Brannan

  • SteveDenver

    Who at Queerty has a hard-on against Macklemore and Ryan Lewis? Why are these artists recommended and in the same piece the accomplishments of M&R “however-ed.” Why not Cher or Britney (not really an ally unless her album or ticket sales slump) or Madonna?

    Probably the same person who thinks he/she is promoting G/L musicians while actually putting them in a box.

  • RainboWarrioR

    uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Adam Lambert.

  • BrianDotBrian

    Where’s Steve Grand? He’s an up and comer and has excellent lyrics.

  • SteveDenver

    Bizzle is Shizzle

    How about dreamy Joe McElderry who won the UK X Factor and came out, then was dropped from his record contract by Simon Cowell. Joe is currently touring with Adam Lambert.

  • mada

    Substitute Cazwell with Sam Sparro PLEASE. He has a wonderful music video out at the moment, but no one seems to remember him outside of “Black & Gold”.


  • LancerLaw

    A) Jimbryant above is wrong and misinformed.

    B) Adam Lambert, Jay Brannon, and Steve Grand should all be on this list as far more successful gay artists.

    C) If you’re more concerned about not as well known artists, you should look at Kevin Y. Wong, he’s amazing.

  • 1n9e7b8

    2 words, John Grant! He opened Sydney festival here 2 weeks ago. Hoping you do an article on him, Queerty. If every 13 year old queer kid were able to hear his track “Glacier”, the world would be a better place. If anyone’s interested, YouTube him. His music features heavily in Andrew Haigh’s movie “Weekend”.

  • jimbryant

    Adam Lambert? LOL. Adam has faded. The only reason he had a top 10 hit 5 years ago was because he was on American Idol. If he had not come through Idol, he would never have had the hit.

    In any case, he’s faded. There is currently not one openly gay or bisexual male performer in the entire Top 100 of the music charts in either America, Australia or Britain.

    These three nations have turned their backs on openly gay or bisexual male performers.

  • damon459

    I’ll listen to the artists I want to listen to, I’m not going buy music just because the artist is LGBT or considered LGBT friendly. “we” claim we want to be excepted by society, meanwhile at least part of the community thinks we need to live separate lives.

  • jimbryant


    You’re right about that.

    However, how are you going to be able to decide to buy music from openly gay or bisexual men if the big commercial labels won’t sign them on account of them being openly gay or bi? If they can’t even get through the gate, your range of music to listen to is being limited. It’s being limited by the gate-keeper role of the homophobic labels.

    Be VERY aware of this gate-keeper role of the labels. They impose their homophobia at the gate. Once it’s imposed, openly gay or bi men can’t even be in the room.

  • jaleoman

    Out of the 5 almost unknown artist in most of the world, only 2 are decent: Ariana Castelli and Frank Ocean ( but the last one is not openly gay), Will Sheridian and Cazwell are awful their music video is vulgar, is like a porn video.

    I agree with Jimbryant about that is hard for an openly gay artist continue be successful, that’s true and that’s why we have to support our few openly gay artist. But you guys have not mentioned RICKY MARTIN he is indeed “The most successful and famous openly gay artist in the world.

    Ricky Martin released a Spanish Album after he came out and was “THE HIGHEST DEBUT EVER FOR A SPANISH ALBUM IN THE USA”, released a #1 selling book, toured worldwide with sold out arenas,(I attended 3 of his concerts in the USA) was a huge hit on Broadway in EVITA,with a full house every night and screaming fans every night.

    Last year he signed on the THE VOICE AUSTRALIA as a coach and has been a huge hit there, released the song “COME WITH ME” for his upcoming english album and the song was a huge hit in Australia, Latin America, Part of Europe, and ( Latin stations in the USA where reached #1 on Billboard Latin charts) he performed his new hit in some of the most important shows worldwide: The Voice Australia, In Italy, Ellen, Spain ( where he received the award Male artist of the year)Latin Grammy ( receiving a standing ovation)

    Even more Ricky will perform one of the OFFICIAL SONGS FOR THE WORLD CUP BRASIL 2014, Guys “THAT’S THE BIGGEST SPORTS EVENT ON THE PLANET). he still huge in many countries, in some he is a legend, still getting a lot of airplay on the radio with his new music,and selling out arenas and stadiums over the world.

  • WhyteRabbit

    couldn’t we like someone “good” instead? like sam sparro? or great big world? or simon curtis?

  • KDub

    @damon459: It’s not a matter of living separately. It’s a matter of having pride in your community and yourself. There’s nothing wrong with being particularly proud of the accomplishments and contributions from people who are more like you. Actually, there’s probably something with you if you don’t have any pride in your community.

  • DShucking

    Life is too short to listen to music you don’t like just to spite society.


    As a former member of “The Gay Activist Alliance” which was the strong arm of the gay revolution after the stonewall riot, I have to say watching same sex lovers get married on the awards how made me cry. Everyone who knows me knew why. Because of all the things we were doing to secure our civil rights, I mean the arrest, beatings and harassment, watching what is being done in the GLTB community is breath taking.
    However, there is one thing I have to say is that although the community has done all these things, there is still one aspect of following our initial goal that is being missed.
    When we started our main problem was that we were not allowed to gather and same-sex people were not allowed to show affection in public. As I was watch us I rarely see us holding hands with our lovers and kissing in public seems to be forbidding by us. So until we do that we really aren’t completely out. The problem some feel is that they will be harassed or worse,Our solution was that we had to feel like a family so if we see one of us getting crap we step in..
    All that said we should all feel proud what we have done.
    The work that the community did to get “Don’t ask, Don’t tell overturned, gay and lesbians being able to be great parents and same sex marriage, tells all of us who fought that it was worth it. And for that I have to say thank you.
    Xavier Harrison
    Loving you everyday

  • Alan down in Florida

    Meanwhile two of the most successful songwriters in Nashville are the openly gay Shane McAnally and Brandy Clark. In fact Mr. McAnally took home two Grammy awards Sunday night as co-writer of Best Country Song and as co-Producer of Best Country Album for Kacey Musgraves’ Same Trailer, Different Park. He also recorded an album and had several minor hits before coming out. I would love to see him co-write and produce a Steve Grand CD.

  • jimbryant

    Stonewall boy,

    The problem with the Stonewall generation and the generation that followed is that they entered a pact with liberalism. Liberalism has been a double-edged sword. Let me explain.

    While liberalism has vastly increased our legal rights as gay people, it has not increased our visibility on Main Street. For instance, you never see a male couple holding hands outside of the gay ghettos, not even in New York City. Public displays of male-male affection are virtually non-existent unless it’s of a non-erotic nature.

    Liberals don’t want to see two men kissing or holding hands in public. In private, they have no problem but, in public, they don’t want us being us. They want to squash us and keep us away from public view.

    The reason is that liberalism is largely a form of coded homophobia designed by women. It is women who make the rules under liberalism. Liberalism thus gives women privileges. Women can cross-dress, men can’t. Women can show affection with each other in public, men can’t. Women can enter ordinary nightclubs dressed like prostitutes whereas men cannot enter these same nightclubs dressed in the same way.

    The challenge for all gay and bisexual men now is to withdraw from liberalism. Liberalism has served us well at the legal level but it has been a failure at the social level.

    We also need to start working together will all men to remove women’s privileges.

  • justinbrent

    ADAM LAMBERT has recorded many more gay themed songs than the people on
    ENTERTAINMENT. I’m ashamed of our LGBT community for frequently failing to
    acknowledge ADAM for the good he’s doing for our community on a worldwide
    scale as he has over 2 million twitter followers.

  • 4of14

    Five! There are a lot more than five.
    My favorites are Eli Lieb: Young Love, and Steve Grand: Stay.

  • umac40

    These are the five you pick? Really?

    Frank Ocean, still in the closet. Cazwell, about the LEAST musically gifted person in the fu#%ing world, and some ghetto hood bi†ch who uses a gay slur in every song/interview she does. What a depressing article.

  • jimbryant


    Adam Lambert is OK as a vocalist but I’ve never found him compelling musically. His musical structures are rote. They sound the same as musical structures that have been around for many years. He needs something new musically.

    Nevertheless, I see your point. Gay men have a habit of turning their backs on openly gay and bisexual male acts. Look at what happened to George Michael and Ricky Martin. They’re not exactly resonating in the singles charts.

  • SilverRayne

    What about Clay Aiken?

  • alanj

    Funny how in other posts you slag the charts as no longer being relevant, yet here you are using the charts as a benchmark for success.
    Did you read the earlier jaleoman post or are you just ignoring it because it disproves your opinion of Ricky Martin?

  • jimbryant


    What on earth are you referring to? Have you been smoking the wacky tabacky?

    I simply said that commercial success is measured by chart position. There are no openly gay or bisexual male performers in any of the charts in either America, Britain or Australia.

    Think about it – not one. We’ve come a long way…not.

  • GeriHew

    @pdt01: Tanita Tikaram isn’t openly gay or bisexual. It’s all just speculation which she will neither confirm or deny.

  • GeriHew

    @jimbryant: Elton John’s most recent studio album (The Diving Board -2013) went to number 4 in the USA; number 3 in the UK and number 26 in Australia. Not bad for a 66 year old who made his first hit record nearly 45 years ago.

  • Caleb in SC

    @GeriHew: Don’t feed the troll. He is only on here to rile people up. It’s best to ignore his rants.

  • alanj

    On Jan 4 you derided posts that used chart positions as evidence of success, yet here you are nearly a month later using lack of chart positions as proof of failure. You can’t have it both ways.

  • annalawrence

    My Uncle Sebastian recently got a nice 9 month old Buick Verano Sedan only from working part-time off a macbook. find out this here>>> http://x.co/3n09K

  • Black Pegasus

    The closeted artists are more popular.

  • kinseyfiles

    @SteveDenver: I would like to know the same thing/ What the hell is up with Queerty. You would think that Macklemore and Ryan Lewis had committed a crime . Get over it please. Same Love and the attention it has gotten has been a gift to the LBGT community. Its a lot more than a rap song. Its a powerful message to mainstream America. Appreciate and stop dissin it.

  • alanj

    Agreed. Also don’t discount the amazing success it’s had worldwide – a very powerful message indeed.

  • Mezaien

    Frank Ocean; is he hot, or what! anytime babe.

  • tohe

    Eli Lieb is gay and far more talented than any of those other performers listed above. So are John Grant, Tegan and Sara, The Irrepressibles and Perfume Genius.

  • Respect4all

    @Stefan: Answer: They’re not. Any more impertinent questions?

  • queenrosered

    I’m with many of my follow commenters here….Adam Lambert as an openly out and proud gay artist from the start is a very well-spoken, likable and intelligent representative for the LGBT community and as such has received many awards and accolades but not enough mainstream recognition, imo. His voice is unparalleled whether you like his music or not. I love both of his albums and the fact that he received close to ZERO radio play even after his second album “Trespassing” debuted at number 1 and received critical acclaim ( the former a first for an openly gay male) is probably the reason many have never heard most of his own material. He continues to astound fans and critics alike with his multi-octaved renditions of others hits and has been a huge hit as a front-man for legendary rock group Queen (which seems poised to soon tour in North America with Lambert) Most recently he sang “Marry the Night” by Lady Gaga on the show Glee, and nailed it so well that it charted higher on Billboard than Gaga’s original version ever did. The “problem” that many in the community seem to have with Lambert is that he is not the “right kind of gay” being either “too fem” or “too butch” etc. (Have you SEEN this man lately? Take another look/listen) Come ON guys…get with it and show support not only for the community but for diversity WITHIN it!

  • queenrosered

    @justinbrent: And with that…you have just become one of the most respected commenters on this site in MY eyes Justin! *CHEERS! Here’s hoping to see you at one of his concerts! The man is an incredible live performer! The BEST male vocalist alive.

  • queenrosered

    We saw Lambert live this last New Year’s Eve. He did this rendition of a Jimi Hendrix classic for the first time. And he slayed once more. American Blues Scene magazine reported on it and wants an interview with him based solely on this performance. I was apx.15 feet from his face and he is amazingly stunning and very gracious. That is all I’ll say for now….enjoy.


  • Kangol

    Frank Ocean is amazing. Will Sheridan is hot. Where’s Mykki Blanco, who’s truly gender-bending? Glad Azealia Banks, who raps about eating p*ssy, is on the list. Nicki Minaj should also be on here. She’s probably more popular than all these other musicians combined.

  • Respect4all

    I liked the Cazwell video better with the sound off. Will Sheridan is hot. I’m big fan of Adam Lambert. I liked Ariana Castelli for the music and the message. I haven’t gotten to the rest yet.

  • BBoy Rock

    Out of the five artists, I think that Frank. Ocean and Cazwell have the most well put together music and video visuals. Will Sheridan is easy on the eyes, but the production on his music needs to be mixed better. As for other mentioned artists in the thread, I highly agree that Adam Lambert and Lovari are also great. lgbt front runners in the game. Also, let’s not forget about Ari Gold!

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