The right song can turn a good movie into a great one, or perhaps a queer-leaning film into an outright gay production. Not all tracks written and composed for movies are gay, necessarily, but there are quite a few that appeal especially to the LGBTQ+ community. Maybe that’s because of the talents who composed and wrote them, the artists who sang them, or perhaps due it’s just the subject matter, or some other intangible quality that makes a song sparkle.
Whatever the reason, they have us singing long after the credits roll. Here are the 25 best original (and gayest) songs from movies:
“(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from Rocketman
This list wouldn’t be complete without at least one submission from perhaps the most successful openly gay musician of all time, Elton John. The knighted piano player has been nominated for four Best Original Song Oscars, including three in the same year—and he’s won two, with his second prize coming to him for this tune from his own biopic, Rocketman.
“A Love That Will Never Grow Old” from Brokeback Mountain
Like everything connected to Brokeback Mountain, the song “A Love That Will Never Grow Old”—performed by country legend Emmylou Harris—is heartbreaking and beautiful. The tune sounds unlike anything on this list, and it fits perfectly with the setting and time in which the Oscar-winning picture is set. Sadly, the track was deemed ineligible for an Academy Award at the time due to a strange restriction about it not being in the film long enough. Just one more way Brokeback Mountain was overlooked by the Oscars.
“Backdoor Lover” from Josie And The Pussycats
During its initial run in theaters, Josie And The Pussycats wasn’t a box office win, but the soundtrack was successful—that fact right there has the makings of a gay camp classic. The rocking movie produced a number of tunes that cult followers still have in their heads, especially fake boy band DuJour’s “Backdoor Lover,” with lyrics that are a masterclass in double entendres.
“Can’t Stop The Music” from Can’t Stop The Music
For those who know nothing of Can’t Stop the Music, it’s a biopic musical film centered around the forming of The Village People, using the biggest hits by The Village People, and starring both The Village People and—believe it or not—Caitlyn Jenner, capitalizing on her post-Olympics Gold fame. The entire production is excessively gay, and the title track, which was written for the production, ties it all together.
“Dance The Night” from Barbie
The most recent submission on this list, it’s no surprise that a single released by Dua Lipa is already regarded as a gay favorite. “Dance The Night” served as the first taste of the Barbie soundtrack, and it didn’t disappoint. The disco-pop tune is a quick hit, and it sets up the pink-hued film for success, at least musically.
“Come So Far (Got So Far To Go)” from Hairspray
Everything about Hairspray is gay. The themes. The obsession with hair. The fact that the mother is always played by a man in drag. And, of course, the songs. Before the musical movie premiered, most of the music already existed, but a few tracks were written specifically for the adaptation, like this crowd-pleasing ensemble number from the closing credits.
“I’ll Remember” from With Honors
Few remember (pun intended), but Madonna actually has a very long history when it comes to writing songs for movies. The Queen of Pop has been nominated for the Best Original Song category at the Golden Globes six times, including once for this hit single from With Honors. Oddly, the provocative pop star has never earned an Oscar nod, despite her success at the Globes.
“Last Dance” from Thank God It’s Friday
Yes, that’s right, the Donna Summer classic was actually first introduced in the movie Thank God It’s Friday. The film didn’t earn a lot of praise, but “Last Dance” did win an Oscar, and the disco-themed picture helped further cement Summer’s status as a superstar.
“Let It Go” from Frozen
When Frozen was released in 2013, “Let It Go” brought Disney a hit single for the first time in many years. It returned the mouse-eared company back to the charts in a major way and proved it could still produce radio smashes from its films. Millions of little kids couldn’t get the tune out of their ears, and the LGBTQ+ community adopted it as an anthem of their own.
“Let’s Hear It For The Boy” from Footloose
Footloose is a fantastic film, and the soundtrack is unbeatable. Kevin Bacon is a proper heartthrob in the movie, and the album that accompanied the project churned out hit after hit, including Deniece Williams’ buoyant “Let’s Hear It For The Boy.” How can any single with that title not appear on this list?
“Listen” from Dreamgirls
The original musical Dreamgirls has been a gay staple since it debuted on Broadway back in 1981. While nothing will ever touch some of the original tunes—such as “One Night Only,” the title track, and, of course, the show-stopping “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going”—the numbers written for the film were also incredible. Among them, “Listen” stands out as the best, and not only because it was made famous by Beyoncé.
“My Heart Will Go On” from Titanic
Yes, Titanic is about a boat sinking and a man and a woman who find love in the middle of a disaster, but the song that came out out James Cameron’s blockbuster has become one of the most beloved of all time. Everyone adores this Grammy and Oscar winner, but it’s over-the-top nature and Celine Dion’s soaring vocal performance make “My Heart Will Go On” catnip for gay men.
“One In A Million” from Miss Congeniality
Few people may realize, but the movie Miss Congeniality was actually nominated for a handful of Golden Globes. Sandra Bullock was up for her performance as the FBI agent-turned-beauty pageant contestant, but the movie was also in the running for Best Original Song. “One In A Million” plays as the girls strut their stuff on the stage during the Miss America show, and while the Bosson-performed tune has largely been forgotten, it’s still a bop that feels and sounds very of its time.
“Reflection” from Mulan
Anyone who listens to “Reflection” from Mulan and doesn’t realize it’s about coming out is not paying attention. The Disney movie doesn’t feature a gay storyline, but it does center around a woman dressing up as a man, so it’s actually pretty queer.
“Somewhere Over The Rainbow” from The Wizard Of Oz
“Somewhere Over the Rainbow” isn’t just one of the best LGBTQ+ songs in a movie, it’s one the best tracks written for a picture… ever. The focus on the rainbow, the themes explored, and of course, the fact that it’s beautifully performed by our beloved Judy Garland all make the Oscar-winning smash undeniably gay.
“Sweet Transvestite” from Rocky Horror Picture Show
There isn’t one shot in Rocky Horror Picture Show that isn’t explicitly gay, and so it’s no surprise that while the movie wasn’t a true commercial success upon its release, it found a cult following among LGBTQ+ viewers almost instantaneously. While the title is no longer appropriate, Tim Curry’s introductory number as Dr. Frank-N-Furter, “Sweet Transvestite,” is surely the gayest track in a musical filled with plenty of options.
“The Gospel Truth” from Hercules
Like Mulan, Hercules isn’t about a gay character or coming out, but the Disney animated kid’s film has a lot of things going on right underneath the surface that appeal to LGBTQ+ viewers young and old. Every song in the flick is top-notch, and while the focus has always been on “Go The Distance,” the handful of bops from the Dreamgirls-inspired Muses—like “The Gospel Truth”—are actually the best.
“The Way He Makes Me Feel” from Yentl
This is one of the best gay songs from a movie for two reasons:
1. It’s called “The Way He Makes Me Feel”
2. It’s by Barbra Streisand
What else does a tune need to find its way onto this list?
“This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman
The running theme with many of the songs featured in this article isn’t that they are explicitly gay, or about one person singing a love song to another of the same sex. Instead, they’re queer-coded, and we can often relate because they’re all about discovering who you really are—not fitting in, or finding a way to love yourself in spite of the world telling you not to. “This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman, performed by Keala Settle in the film and Kesha for the radio single, is another fantastic example of an anthem that wasn’t necessarily meant for the gays, but it belongs to them nonetheless. Just go to any drag show and you’ll see what we mean.
“Travelin’ Thru” from Transamerica
Already a bit dated, Transamerica was groundbreaking when it was released in 2005, as it told the story of a trans woman and her son on a cross-country road trip together. The film went on to earn two Oscar nominations: one for Felicity Huffman, who portrayed the trans woman, and another for Dolly Parton, who composed and sang the title’s song, “Travelin’ Thru.” A trans story told in part by Parton? We love to hear it!
“Mystery Of Love” from Call Me By Your Name
Call Me By Your Name is, of course, a very gay film, and many of the behind-the-scenes talents involved are queer as well, including the director, writer, and the man who composed the original songs. Sufjan Stevens put his sad boy spin on the picture with two tracks, earning an Academy Award nomination for “Mystery Of Love.”
“When She Loved Me” from Toy Story 2
Since the franchise launched, Randy Newman has written original songs for every Toy Story, and he’s earned four Best Original Song Oscar nominations for his work—one for each film. The second in the series, “When She Loved Me,” sees Sarah McLachlan remembering when a woman still loved her and how wonderful that felt. Sure, it’s from the perspective of a toy, but it still breaks our heart every time.
“When You Believe” from The Prince Of Egypt
A Biblical tale, The Prince of Egypt is not a queer movie, and unlike some other songs from Disney films, the main tune that came out of it doesn’t express longing to be one’s true self or discover what that means, which many young LGBTQ+ viewers can relate to. Instead, the Oscar-winning “When You Believe” is gay simply because of the singers behind it. Putting Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston on the same track back in the ’90s was enough to have gays everywhere salivating.
“You Haven’t Seen The Last Of Me” from Burlesque
Burlesque was a gay classic from the moment it arrived. All that it needed to win us over was Cher’s involvement, and her rendition of the new tune “You Haven’t Seen The Last Of Me” is everything viewers could want. Add in a very hot male love interest and Christina Aguilera belting her face off, and Burlesque will always have a fan base.
“You’re The One That I Want” from Grease
The movie musical Grease is campy and ridiculous with unforgettable music (and dancing!) that pushes it over the top… and don’t get us started on John Travolta’s tighter-than-tight pants. Of all the original songs in Grease, “You’re The One That I Want” stands out as perhaps the gayest, though “Hopelessly Devoted To You”—sung by the late, great Olivia Newton-John—deserves some recognition as well.