Good lord has the world changed. Remember just a few short years ago when being a "gay rapper" was unheard of, or at worst, career suicide? Ha. That ship sailed. In the 80's and 90's, icons like George Michael had to live double lives, always terrified that at any moment the A-Bomb could land on their doorstep, and a vicious press rag could out them.
Swipe left on all that. From mainstream, white pop stars like Sam Smith & Adam Lambert, to Odd Future's Frank Ocean several summers ago penning an open letter to the world, the cuffs & chains are off. Closet doors are much like rules insofar as they're made to be, well, you know.
From Top 40 charts to the most subculturey lo-fi garbage Soundcloud joints that even NoJumper isn't up on yet, the wave is real. There's no singular human or artist that "started it" and anyone who says that has individual motives in the matter. They also don't know a fucking thing about Ballroom in the 80's, Broadway in the 40's or like, literally anything that doesn't exist in a vacuum. It's just the culture evolving, a neon sign of the times if you will.
Personally, I would tend to tip my hat much deeper to cats like Kevin Abstract (correction, there's no "other/like" Kevin Abstract- dude is a one man zeitgeist.) than Lil Nas X but in no small way did X factor into the trajectory of culture. He made it ostentatiously mainstream.
All roads lead to Rome they say.
The post-mod Mount Rushmore of Queer artists that transcends genre & aesthetic. Lil Nas X, Adam Lambert, Frank Ocean, Sam Smith & Kevin Abstract.
I first moved to West Hollywood in 2017, staying two blocks away from the heart of Boys Town on North Crescent, and the "gay artist" wave, emanating from a compendium of emerging subgenres was already firmly a staple of the LA music scene. In the past four years, so much has changed socially that the dull roar became an overwhelmingly amplified dancehall airhorn.
With more and more musicians taking true stands for equality, not just virtue signaling for clout, the message has been louder & clearer. The pioneers of queer music from the ballroom days of the 80's in lower Manhattan would be beyond proud to see how the new generation have not only waved the rainbow flag, but planted it in the concrete. They've evolved the narrative, blended genres & kept it rawly a buck in the face of all the adversity they face.
Because here at SOULER, we focus on the authentic spirit of the creators, and trainspot the crest before the rush comes, we've selected the best five LGBTQ musicians from across the globe that deserve your attention. Not only are they at the forefront of this bright new era of queer music, they're indie as fuck and wildly gifted.
No industry plants, just succulents & filtered water cuz you know, mood & vibe & such.
Lets get into it.
The LA multi-hyphenate has been a lost angel scene tastemaker for years. Poor first appeared in the LA circuit in 2010 as a songwriter with Carl Falk behind hits for One Direction & Brittney Spears before teaming up with Brian Kennedy to write for Rascal Flatts, Rhianna & Chris Brown.
His solo work, however, is world class, dripping with weeping strings, haunting piano & minimal film score textures that lay the groundwork for his emotional vocals that range from the airy & whimsical to heart-stopping crescendos. If you don't feel anything you're a fucking bot. Zac Poor 2024. Imma leave that right there.
His gram alone deserves a standing ovation from the aesthetic junkies. Zac, bro, text me I want to be you.
This colossal talent has a bright future ahead. A dash of nu-gen legend Andra Day, a dash of the high priestess Amy Winehouse, and a bit of peak Badu, Parks pulls from, in all honestly, the best of what made them insanely loveable.
The 20-year-old London poet & indie-soul artist Parks makes music that will both break your soul and ignite it at the same time. Last year's “Black Dog” was a crushing referendum on depression. “Cola” - the first record she ever put out, dismisses a former partner with an “I loved you to death, and now I don’t really care.”
“Eugene,” - another standout cut from young Arlo reverberated in the LGBTQ community from the authentic connective fabric woven into its lyrical content that many queer people related to, falling in love with a friend.
Jakk Fynn, raised in a Mexican Evangelical family, discussed some of the devastating implications of being trans while undertaking the most simple of interactions in 2020. That has just amplified after a year like 2020. The latinx indie artist blends elements of lo-fi trap, shoegaze, with sparse vaporwave soul as the canvas to explore gender construction, challenging ideas of masculinity as well as championing self-love and acceptance on tracks such as “Fire” and last summer's “Heal.”
Australia has given us far more than Steve Irwin, Fosters (which, if you ask any actual Aussie, is not "Australian for beer") and Rugby. Lonsdale, who entered the chat with his deceptively charming clapback bop “Rainbow Dragon” never misled the witness from the onset of his debut album Rainbow Boy, a “queer AF and Black AF” album, as he said on Instagram around the time of the release.
One highlight is “Gay Street Fighter,” in which he declares “everyone” is gay, “even God.” God has not gotten back to SOULER with his response at time of press, however.
Recently, the network Starz casted him as the character Tal in their forthcoming new reboot of dance series "Step Up."
At almost half a million followers on IG, the 21 year old MC who blew up on Soundcloud is not really a "indie secret" any longer. The Dallas native parlayed her subculture buzz into a RocNation deal last year, becoming the first lesbian rapper signed by Jay-Z's massive management flagship.
"Kaash"a backronym for "Kill All Arrogance, Stop Hatred" cracked a billion Spotify streams in January and has also developed a cult streetwear following for her oversized, bucket cap heavy, no-face no-case fit pics. Her sound, a drippy 90's R&B meets glossy lo-fi trap is the perfect balance of regen and on the vanguard.