LGBTQ+ Artists Enter the Mainstream

How Lil Nas X and other queer musicians are challenging the industry.

Arts Music Triston Brewer

This article was published on November 16th, 2021

Anyone that thought that Lil Nas X was bound to the category of one-hit wonder back in 2019 with the song ‘Old Town Road’ is definitely singing a different tune. As the longest running #1 song in the history of the Billboard Hot 100 charts, the then teenager took the country music heavyweights by storm, forcing them to not only embrace a Black man at the forefront of the genre, but also music that did not fit seamlessly into their traditional programming. 

Fast forward to 2021, through a string of publicity appearances, public statements, COVID, and coming out, and Lil Nas X has become to defacto trailblazer for the LGBTQ+ community in the pop world. And?

He’s just getting started. 

Lil Nas (government name, Montero Lamar Hill) made headlines when he came out, particularly after straddling country and then daring to dive into the historically homophobic genre of hip hop. Undeterred by the naysayers and industry pundits, Lil Nas came out full throttle with the release ‘Montero (Call Me By Your Name)’, a song rife with suggestive lyrics, an even spicier video (in it, he gives Satan a lap dance), and a message that had the internet and mainstream media buzzing for more than just two news cycles.

Before the music industry could catch its collective breath, he was back at it with ‘Industry Baby’, complete with a coterie of nude male dancers in a shower, and a Saturday Night Live debut that even had Janet Jackson dropping her jaw after his wardrobe malfunction. Then, as the gay cherry on top, he kissed one of his male dancers full on the mouth at this year’s BET Awards. 

All that and barely 22 years old.  

The Changing Sonic Landscape Has Been Forced to Accept LGBTQ+ Performers

Gone are the days when only a handful of artists were known as part of the LGBTQ+ community. From Frank Ocean and Azealia Banks, Tyler the Creator and Janelle Monáe, there are plenty of artists in the rap and R&B genres that have embraced the queer community or are openly gay or bisexual. But it is Nas that has made the most direct impact, comparable to icons before him like Elton John, David Bowie, or even Madonna. Says John:

“Lil Nas X is a bold and brave provocateur who’s making amazing and inspiring music. He’s pushing the boundaries of urban music by wholeheartedly embracing his sexuality and visually projecting that celebration out into the world. Historically, there has been a lot of homophobia in the hip-hop world. DaBaby’s recent damaging comments about the LGBTQ community and people living with HIV/AIDS clearly demonstrate that there is still so much education and work to be done.”

Emerging Pop Acts with Anticipated Releases

Below, HomoCulture has curated a list of the most anticipated releases that are expected to be released (or have already been released) by LGBTQ+ musicians in 2021.

St. Vincent

After her 2017 release MASSEDUCATION, St. Vincent could have gone anywhere sonically, but with her sixth LP, the queer rock pioneer is forging a decidedly different path than her previous efforts. ‘Daddy’s Home’ was produced by hitmaker Jack Antonoff and is regarded as her most accessible release yet. Harkening back to the days of classic soul singers Stevie Wonder and Sly and Family Stone, St. Vincent is taking her fans back to one of the most quintessential eras in music history.

Honey Dijon

Ardent fans are still waiting for the follow-up to her 2017 LP ‘The Best of Both Worlds’, but they may not have to wait too much longer as ‘Black Girl Magic’ has been announced and the lead single, ‘Not About You’ (featuring Hadiya George) is already gaining traction on the airwaves. The Berlin-based producer and DJ is keeping further details about the album under wraps, but her legion of fans are whet with anticipation. 

Brockhampton

The boy band has been promising a new album as far back as 2019, even promising two releases in 2020. Fans are still waiting for new content and in 2021, they were treated to a teaser clip that signaled a new release was possibly in the cards. The lead singer of the group, Kevin Abstract, has stated that the forthcoming release will be their last, so it should be worth the wait. 

Conclusion

These are just a smattering of LGBTQ+ artists that are making groundbreaking music and changing the status quo in the industry. What albums are you looking forward to this fall and in 2022? Who are your favorite queer artists? Let HomoCulture know in the comments section below. 

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