With queer visibility and acceptance on steady rise, pressure for LGBTQ musicians to maintain a “universally relatable” (aka straight) image in order to appeal to a mainstream audience remains. Luckily, an increasing number of artists are starting their careers by actively avoiding that trap.
The impact this has on fans, particularly young, LGBTQ fans, cannot be overstated. These six artists may create music that’s hard to compare, but they share a fearlessness to harness their passions to challenge heteronormativity in their careers. And they’re making it that much easier for the next wave of artists to follow suit.
Scroll through to meet the Pride50 music honorees…
1. Orville Peck
Who is this mysterious queer cowboy, exactly? Orville Peck chooses to keep his personal life very personal; he never appears in public without his now-iconic tasseled mask. But it’s precisely his image that’s pushing the culture forward — challenging Western tropes of heterocentric masculinity, to be precise. While his sound harks back to country music from the mid-20th century, Peck’s style is distinctively queer, proving there’s room in any musical genre to live authentically.
“As a little gay boy out in bumf*ck who always felt disenfranchised by country music. I love seeing an openly gay man becoming successful trailing a path forward,” one commenter wrote on his latest video release, “No Glory In the West.” That about says it all.