Madonna was right when she sang, “Music makes the people come together.” One of the ways artists bring people together through their music is by singing about causes they care about—gay rights is one of those causes. Many artists have helped raise awareness of LGBT issues through their work.
The following artists have done just that. Whether they’re an openly gay artist reflecting their own sexuality, or an ally who has been a vocal advocate for LGBT equality, here are the top 10 artists who have helped the LGBT movement.
10. Johnny Dangerous
9. Kurt Cobain
7. Pansy Division
6. Christina Aguilera
5. Melissa Etheridge
4. Demi Lovato
3. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
2. Janet Jackson
In the 1980s, many people were using the AIDS epidemic as an excuse to perpetuate homophobia. Madonna was one of the first mainstream figures who spoke out in defense of the gay community at this time. She got involved in the fight against AIDS, encouraging research and the practice of safe sex. She brought vogueing—a style of dance started in New York’s gay club scene—to the mainstream and featured footage from a gay pride parade in her tour documentary, “Truth or Dare.” She also featured gay, lesbian, and bisexual affection in “Truth or Dare,” the “Justify My Love” video and her “Sex” book. This was still in the early 1990s, before it was a trendy thing for female pop stars to do. More recently, Madonna has spoken out against bullying, anti-gay laws in Malawi and Russia, and the Boy Scouts’ anti-gay policy. Madonna’s advocacy for the LGBT community was acknowledged when gay news magazine, “The Advocate,” named Madonna “the greatest gay icon” in 2012.
There you have it. From the eighties to nineties to now, LGBT representation in music has a long history. Whether they’re a pop icon or an unknown independent artist, these artists have used their position to help make progress for LGBT people. They have risked their own popularity to stand by what they believe in. And that is what makes these artists so admirable.