Music is a way through which people can express their feelings. A lot of musicians have also portrayed their sexualities through their songs. LGBT Music emerged in the 1890’s. It was a group of musical genres that focused on the sexual and gender minorities. Their music typically expresses the frustration, anxiety and hope associated with these minorities offering them a platform for expression.
In the 1970’s there was a growing tolerance for LGBT artists, allowing them to come out publicly. Some examples arose with the sexual liberation movement.
David Bowie, in his song ‘Boys Keep Swinging’, broke the stereotype on boys by blurring the lines between the two binary genders. The lyrics, ‘When you’re a boy, other boys check you out. You get a girl’, suggest bisexuality.
It is believed that Freddie Mercury, in his song ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, came out as bisexual. The word ‘Bohemian” was used for people who lived outside the norm as well as for ‘sexual free spirits’.
The 1980’s saw an increase in the exposure of LGBT especially gender-bending and cross-dressing. The song, ‘Karma Chameleon’, by Culture Club, is one example of this. It was written by Boy George for his drummer, Jon Moss.
The 1990’s saw artists condemning homophobia and an increase in pro LGBT laws. Queercore, an offshoot of hardcore punk also helped solidify LGBT arts in this decade.
Tribe 8, one of the first queercore groups, was an outspoken Dyke Punk band. In their song, ‘Lezbophobia’ they speak against homophobia, the lyrics being, “You’ve got lezbophobia, yeah you’re straight but you think I wanna lay ya. You’ve got lezbophobia, you’ve got a bad case of homo paranoia.”
Another queercore band was Pansy Division. Their song, ‘Smells like queer spirit’ is about embracing homosexuality.
In India, over the years, there has been a growing awareness and acceptance of the LGBT community and their rights. This is now also being reflected in the lyrics and videos of some Indian musicians.
‘Head Held High’ is a song by Delhi-based band ‘Friends of Linger’ which is gaining popularity all over the world. The song is about an individual’s struggle to understand his or her sexuality deeply conditioned by society’s norms. The song portrays conflict with oneself, along with love, intimacy, marriage and Pride. It also covers the realisation and joy that comes with finally accepting one’s sexuality.
In the 2000’s, LGBT music has branched off into its own genre. New artists, both straight and queer, are supporting the growing music industry and have played an important part in spreading the message of positivity and equality.
~ Vrinda Rastogi, Amity International School, Noida
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