What’s in a gay anthem? Well, you take a line about liberation, a lyric about overcoming obstacles, a sassy quip about inner strength, add a verse about accepting yourself in the face of social rejection, sprinkle in themes of unabashed sexuality and throwing away your cares, and voila — you’ve got a gay hit on your hands. Bonus points if we can strut to it in boy shorts and it’s sung by a diva we can lip sync for our lives to.
What tracks should be on your Pride playlist this month? We have a few ideas, or 20, and some may be new to you.
Lady Gaga – “Born This Way” (2011)
Love her or hate her, Mother Monster created a bold, in-your-face record that had radio stations all around the world, transmitting the message that gay, lesbian, bi, and trans people are beautiful and born that way. The song hit number one in over 25 countries.
RuPaul – “The Beginning” (2011)
Ru is all about loving your true, authentic self and this theme from Drag Race Season 5 is all about realizing your true potential and living your life as the real you. Because if you can’t love yourself…you know the rest.
Janet Jackson – “Together Again” (1997)
Janet penned this track to honor a friend who passed of AIDS and for AIDS victims and their families around the world. It’s a gorgeous nod to those before us who should be celebrating how far we’ve come as a community today.
Diana Ross – “I’m Coming Out” (1980)
This song basically makes straight people want to be gay so they can come out. Songwriter Nile Rodgers got the idea for this song after seeing three drag queensdressed as Diana Ross at a club in NYC. It’s the quintessential gay bop.
Jennifer Lopez – “Let’s Get Loud” (1999)
If you don’t hear this blaring from a Pride float full of shirtless men, you’re probably at an NRA rally, gurl. J.Lo singing, “Let the music make you free, be what you wanna be” is enough to make all of us scream “yaaas queen.”
Christina Aguilera – “Fighter” (2002)
Yes, “Fighter.” “Beautiful” is too obvious. “Fighter” is a big middle finger to all of the bullies and assholes you encountered growing up. Look at you now – stronger, wiser, and no longer taking shit from anyone.
Katy Perry – “Firework” (2010)
While Katy can be a little problematic and contradictory with queer themes, there’s no denying “Firework” gave a new generation of gay teens the self-empowerment anthem they were seeking during a time when cyberbullying was on the rise.
Sara Bareilles – “Brave” (2013)
Listening to this makes you want to overcome everything in your way. Bareilles revealed that a close friend struggling to come out inspired her to write “Brave.” It’s destined to become an LGBTQanthem for the ages.
P!nk – “Raise Your Glass” (2011)
“Raise Your Glass” is a nod to all of the underdogs out there who find pride living in society’s margins and like themselves just as they are.
Cher – “Song For The Lonely” (2002)
This one is a tad bit somber but uplifting at the same time. And you can’t have a Pride playlist without Cher, especially Cher belting “It’s gonna be alright!” There isn’t a gay guy out there who isn’t fed up with finding love. Cher says it best, “Don’t give up!”
Robyn – “Hang With Me” (2011)
“Hang With Me” is a carefree ode to making love without falling in love — something we gays know a little bit about, amirite?
Melissa Etheridge – “Come To My Window” (1993)
“I don’t care what they think. I don’t care what they say. What do they know about this love, anyway?” Etheridge sings during the bridge. She walks confidently in her sexuality and inspires same-sex loving folk to do the same.
Scissor Sisters – “Let’s Have A Kiki” (2012)
If you’re having a kiki during Pride, this wink to the underground gay culture should hands-down be on your playlist, hunty.
Kylie Minogue – “All The Lovers” (2010)
Kylie being supported in the air by a human pyramid of pansexual lovers in a celebration of the sexual free spirit. Iconic!
Erasure – “A Little Respect” (1988)
I used to wonder why I always heard this song at gay clubs during Pride. But now when I hear openly gay, lead singer Andy Bell sing, “What religion or reason could drive a man to forsake his lover,” I have a little more respect for it. It’s a gorgeous, synthy, Euro 80s track that deserves a spot on your playlist.
Rozalla – “Everybody’s Free” (1991)
This song is like a big warm hug from your favorite aunt who used to sneak you booze and lives with her “roommate.” It’s all about togetherness, loving one another, and letting love shine through.
Ziggy Marley – “True To Myself” (2003)
This song is like a pep talk before you come out to your best friend (at least it was for me). “I’ve reached a point in life, no longer can I feel this way. I’m finally free. I’ve got to be true to myself.” If nothing else, it sounds like what sunshine feels like.
Mary Lambert – “She Keeps Me Warm” (2013)
So, you won’t be able to twerk to this one, but it’s a meaningful song – especially if you’re a queer person who worships. “She Keeps Me Warm” is a continuation of Lambert’s contribution to Macklemore’s “Same Love.” Having come from a strict Christian household, but wanting to resolve her faith and her sexuality Lambert sings, “I’m not crying on Sundays.”
Panic! At the Disco – “Girls/Girls/Boys” (2013)
Finally an anthem for our bisexual brothers and sisters! “Girls” speaks to the common struggle bisexuals wrestle with. Too often, the gay-straight conversation imposes the idea that people can only be attracted to one gender. In a couple simple lyrics, Panic! is like “No, ma’am. Think again.”
George Michael – “Freedom ’90!” (1990)
Michael wasn’t out of the closet when he released this song. “Freedom” was about him wanting to shed his old image and become a new man. It’s no wonder gay men adopted it as the soundtrack to their coming out narrative.