Since the dawn of time (approximately), the LGBT community has latched on to certain artists and songs, using their images or lyrics as sources of inspiration and empowerment. Songs such as Diana Ross’ “I’m Coming Out” and Cher’s “Believe” achieved tremendous levels of success both within and outside of the queer community. The strong, independent divas also found themselves with a strong, loyal fan base in the community.
That tradition continues today, with gay-friendly artists such as Madonna, Britney Spears and Katy Perry. Songs like Perry’s “Firework” or Pink’s “Raise Your Glass” work to inspire a whole new generation of queer kids.
Here, we countdown the best of the more recent gay anthems by today’s pop divas.
While a lot of us look up to artists like Britney or Rihanna, younger stars like Selena and Demi Lovato are carving out their own niche among the younger generation of LGBT fans.
While some of SelGo’s bigger hits, like the luscious “Love You Like a Love Song” or her explosive breakout hit “Naturally,” are more characteristic of the typical danceable gay anthems, this song, from her 2011 release “When the Sun Goes Down,” is her most empowering.
With lyrics like, “When it comes to me, I wouldn’t want to be anybody else” and “You’ve got every right to a beautiful life,” this song can inspire anybody who’s feeling down.
Natasha Bedingfield is the queen of feel-good pop. With a catalog full of epic empowerment pop, like her breakout hit “Unwritten” and the ode-to-singledom, appropriately titled “Single,” you can’t help but smile when you shuffle through her songs on your iPod.
This midtempo masterpiece, released in 2010, takes the cake as her most inspiring song for the gay community. With a theme of rejecting extravagant, unnecessary things (“If you strip it all away, I’ll be alright”), lyrics like “It’s what you do and say that makes you who you are,” and “I’m only one voice in a million but you ain’t taking that from me,” reinforce the idea of standing up for what you believe in.
Another artist known for feel-good songs, like her breakout hit “Price Tag,” Jessie J’s 2011 debut album is so full of inspirational songs, it was hard to narrow it down. However the funky, feel-good “Stand Up” is one of the most obvious gay anthems on the disc.
With a hook that consists of the lyrics, “So stand up for the love,” it’s positive message is hard to ignore. Check out the video for her equally uplifting breakout hit, “Price Tag,” below.
The lyrics describe going out dancing to release bottled up emotions (“I’m gonna’ marry the night, I won’t give up on my life”), a pretty universal message that is especially applicable to queer people who might be struggling with coming to terms with their identities.
“Born This Way” is full of gay anthems. Another one worth checking out is “Hair,” in which Gaga proclaims, “I just want to be myself and I want you to love me for who I am.”
The epic 14-minute video for “Marry the Night” is worth checking out, as well. View it below.
When we saw the title “My Parade” on the track listing for reality star Heidi Montag’s 2010 debut “Superficial,” we knew just from the title that it was gay anthem material.
We were right—though the song is really about going out for a night on the town (“You better follow me, we headed to the after party … Keep dancing to the song all night long”), there is an underlying theme of perseverance in the lyrics.
Lyrics like, “You can keep on talking up a storm / I will stay strong, got my marching boots on,” and “Won’t let you rain on my parade / Gonna’ take it one step at a time / Won’t get out of line,” are both deliciously camp and inspirational, as any true gay anthem should be.
While the obvious choice when considering potential gay anthems by Ke$ha might be her 2010 number-one, “We R Who We R,” the title track from her latest album, 2012’s “Warrior,” rings much truer.
While “We R Who We R” does inspire you to be yourself—encouraging listeners to rock “stockings ripped all up the sides,” and keep “dancing like we’re dumb”—”Warrior” is a lot stronger as a gay anthem. Ke$ha sings, “We were born to break the doors down, fighting till the end / It’s something that’s inside of us, it’s how we’ve always been,” and encourages people to “stand up for true love” because “it’s time for a revolution”—some of Ke$ha’s most straightforward musical expressions of support for equality.
And though the lyrics on their own are strong, Warrior’s hard beat—especially the dubstep-inspired breakdown in the bridge —definitely gives the song some extra attitude.
“Die Young,” the debut single from “Warrior,” shares the same edgy attitude. Check out the video for the song below.
Lyrics like, “Standing here with my flag held high / Can’t you see that it’s worth the fight,” and “My heart beats for love / It’s the sound that I hear, tells me not to give up,” highlight the importance of fighting for equal rights.
Another honorable mention from this album – the liberation anthem, “Liberty Walk.” Miley was all about letting loose on this album and he definitely went wild in the video for the album’s title track — check it out below.
Jessie and the Toyboys—a “band” made up of singer Jessie Malakouti and some mannequins—stepped into the spotlight (literally) as the opening act for Britney Spears on her 2011 Femme Fatale tour. The band performed their singles—hot dance numbers that totally rival Britney’s, such as “Let’s Get Naughty” and our personal fave, “Push It.” One of the bands hottest tracks, however, is actually a ballad, released on Valentine’s day of 2012 to celebrate the overturning of California’s Proposition 8.
“Runaway” is a sweet love song with a queer twist. Jessie sings sweet lyrics like, “Baby, we could run away and be in love,” and “I don’t care what they say / ‘Cause we’re old enough to fight for freedom,” over a breathtakingly atmospheric beat.
The video is even more beautiful. Check it out below.
But his best music moment came when he was at his most vulnerable. His 2010 single, “Love You Better,” is a bittersweet ballad about being in love with someone who doesn’t look past the surface. With lyrics like, “I know I’m really not his type / But I can’t win him if I never try,” and “Look past my disguises … Now my make-up is disappearing,” the song plays as a sort of drag queen/trans* lament.
Most people remember Willa Ford for her 2001 top 25 hit, “I Wanna Be Bad.” While Willa failed to achieve much mainstream success after that, in 2009, she leaked a track recorded for her second album, “Who I Am.”
The track is literally the perfect song for anyone who is coming to terms with their sexuality. “I am longing to be free from longing / Haunted by questions I’m afraid to face,” Willa sings on the ambient midtempo.
The beat builds up with each chorus, where Willa sings, “A woman’s supposed to love a man / And I’ve tried the best I can / But this is not who I am,” before settling into a beautiful arrangement of synths and strings, over which Willa declares, “It’s not my fault, this is just who I am / We can’t help who we are.”
While it’s not the best song ever, the sincerity and rawness of the lyrics take the song to a whole other level. Hear it for yourself below.
Are there any lesser-known LGBT anthems you think belong in this list? Let us know in the comments section or submit your own list.
Eve is a twenty-five year old trans woman and writer, and the founder of LGBTeen. She enjoys writing about pop culture, feminism, LGBT issues — and her lived experiences. You can view her writing on LGBTeen and on her personal blog, Original Woman.