Indigo Girls, Tayla Parx, Linda Perry, and more share their favorite love songs by queer artists
14 LGBTQ-identifying artists give us their recommendations.
As a queer person, feeling represented in the lyrics of a song is a powerful — and, unfortunately, rare — feeling. A big part of Pride celebrations stem from those types of experiences, from listening to music by queer artists blasting at parades to playing it at home as we're getting ready to go out and mark the occasion. With public 2020 Pride events canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, it's more important than ever to commemorate the musical side of these annual celebrations. So, we asked LGBTQ-identifying artists — including Trixie Mattel, Shamir, Mary Lambert, and more — to pick a love song by a queer artist they love. Read on for their recommendations.
Alex Newell: "Please Don't Fall in Love" — Vincint
"I'm friends with Vincint, so I will always stan a friend! Also, the vocals on it are literally flawless; I'm a vocals queen and [this song is] giving me life. The message is a feeling we all feel when we've gone through a breakup, or not wanting a crush to fall in love with a new person. I think it's so clever and honest."
Scott Hoying: "Watching TV With the Sound Off" — Peter Thomas
"It captures so many emotions I've felt throughout my gay experience. The lyrics are so well written, the tone of his voice is so soothing and expressive, and when the production on the chorus hits, I literally can't help but dance around my room. In the post-chorus he sings 'Even if it's just us…' over and over and it has me feeling all the feelings."
Mary Lambert: "Power of Two" — Indigo Girls
"This was the first love song that ever really resonated with me. I was 13 and the only real-life example I had had of love was destructive and abusive, and pop music didn't really have a strong legacy of good advice in the late '90s. Listening to the Indigo Girls alone in my room had given me some semblance of hope. I loved the idea of whisking your partner away on a romantic weekend drive, and hoped that when I was older I'd have someone to do that with. 'Power of Two' is such a tender depiction of how love can be transformative even if you have unresolved issues. I think people like to tie themselves to platitudes in an absolute way, like 'You can't love someone else until you fully love yourself.' Which doesn't allow a ton of room for nuance or complexity. You can love someone even if you don't fully love yourself, that relationship just might entail a lot of self-work. I think this song gives a fantastic example of love as teamwork and co-creating a strong and healthy relationship dynamic."
Tayla Parx: "Boyfriend" — Marika Hackman
"I would say Marika Hackman's song 'Boyfriend' is a song by another LGBTQ creative that inspired me. It came out in 2017, but from the music video to the lyric/melody I absolutely loved it. That one song sent me down a rabbit hole of her artistry."
Linda Perry: "Constant Cravings" — k.d. lang
"The opening line of k.d. lang's 'Constant Cravings' sums up the battles that gay people have inside of themselves. Or at least that's my interpretation. Some people describe being in the closet as a very dark place, yet they choose to live there. They are silently watching and supporting the brave that come out and fight for the right to be accepted for who they are. We have come a long way, but we still have further to march, to claim, and equality to be given."
Trixie Mattel: "Wherever Is Your Heart" — Brandi Carlile
"I have to say, 'Wherever Is Your Heart,' by Brandi Carlile. It's not a love song in the traditional sense, but it talks about love treading distance and the dark place your thoughts can go when you're away from your loved ones a lot. As a globetrotting crossdresser, that speaks to me."
Cristal Ramirez of the Aces: "Lucky Strike" — Troye Sivan
"I love this song so much. I love that Troye uses words like queen when describing his male lover and blends femininity and masculinity so effortlessly. 'Tell me all the ways to love you' is also such a beautiful line."
Shamir: "Gorgeous Love" — Kitchens of Distinction
"It's a track off of my favorite album by them. I think they're an incredible band and criminally underrated, which I think is a direct result of the frontman, Patrick Fitzgerald, being openly gay, and often writing about his experiences in their songs (this being one of them). The opening lines 'I can feel the waves of your gorgeous love, and it hurts to think that it is seen as wrong' is such a poignant line that uniquely relates to queer love."
Parson James: "Let You Let Me Down" — Donna Missal
"I've known Donna and have been awestruck by her music for YEARS. With every release her ability to genuinely express heartache grows and grows. The pain and beauty of her voice and writing is quite literally otherworldly. Donna's latest single, 'Let You Let Me Down,' is about fully submitting to a lover and loving purely and blindly. I relate to this because this is exactly how I fall for someone that I'm really into… I give absolutely everything 'wide-eyed' and hopeful… often with no return or not enough. So many times, I've gotten down the line with someone only to have the rug pulled from underneath me… In the end you're sitting there like, 'Wow, I'm smarter than this? I just literally let you let me down.' I think it's painfully accurate and beautifully written. Though I'm obsessed with everything this queen does."
Tyler Glenn: "Dirty Mags" — Blueboy
"When I first heard the song 'Dirty Mags,' I was still a twentysomething closeted kid, with no plans to come out. The song fit my angst. Over brash indie guitar rock, singer Keith Girdner belts lyrics like 'He's too scared to say the things he's feeling deep inside.' To me the song encapsulated the anxiety of closeted love, and the culture of sex that's definitively and uniquely queer. A little bit of other gay history: Blueboy is also named after the classic gay adult magazine popularized in mid 70s, and shouted out in the lyrics to Cyndi Laupers 'Shebop': 'Well, I see him every night in tight blue jeans/In the pages of a Blueboy magazine.' While not a typical 'love song,' I truly relate to its mood, its angst, and its honesty. It also helps the first time I heard it was from a guy I was secretly in love and enamored with. While I don't really know him anymore, I still have this song that takes me right back."
Mary Lambert: "Number One Fan" — MUNA
"There's no way I can mention romantic love without mentioning self-love! This track off of MUNA's latest album, Saves The World, is f—ing brilliant. The whole record is phenomenal, really, but there are some gorgeous self-love anthems. This song and 'Pink Light' are exquisitely written, produced, and performed. 'Number One Fan' details what it's like to live on the internet and how to look yourself in the mirror like the goddamn angel you are, without being overly preachy. It's a weekly listen for me right now."
Sara Quin of Tegan and Sara: "People I've Been Sad" — Christine and the Queens
"'People I've Been Sad' took on a profundity for me in quarantine. The idea that we can't be with our community, our family, our friends, creates a longing for annual events like Pride. To stand amongst a sea of queer folks, under the stars, singing and dancing together, seems like a dream."
Emily Saliers of Indigo Girls: "Your Song" — Elton John
"I have loved this song since I first heard it. The melody and the lyrics fit like hand in glove, and it speaks of love with humility and straightforwardness."
Vincint: "Close to You" — JORDY
"Every time I hear this song it reminds me of my time in Boston and falling in and out of love like it was my job. It's a beautiful ride of emotion and touches on a raw feeling of lost but strong love. It's a perfect love song to me."
Ty Herndon: "You Are the Reason" — Calum Scott
"We were fortunate to have Calum Scott play our Concert for Love and Acceptance in 2018. It's a show we host annually in Nashville to support LGBTQ youth and families. He immediately brought the crowd to their feet. The second song in his set was 'You Ae The Reason.' I've been in the business a long time, and honestly, it's really hard to make me drop my jaw. But that's exactly what I did. This will probably be my wedding song one day — hint, hint to my partner, Matthew!"