This month is LGBT+ History Month, which aims to raise awareness and visibility of the LGBT community and its history. We decided to make a list of the greatest alternative LGBT songs. When defining 'LGBT music', we refer to music which isn't necessarily sung by LGBT+ identifying artists but celebrates being LGBT as well as singing about common themes and issues faced by the community.
Secret - Missy Higgins
'Cause you've got a secret
Don't you, babe?
I would shout it aloud, broken through
I would?ve given it all to belong to you
But there were different plans and different rules
This is a song about loving someone who wants to keep the relationship a secret, due to the shame of loving someone of the same gender.
The first version I heard of this song was really simple and stripped-back, with just 3 notes on the guitar repeated throughout the song, accompanying the vocals. Listen to it below.
The powerful lyrics and the beautiful melody blew me away. I listened to this song on repeat when I first discovered it.
Michael - Franz Ferdinand
Michael you're the boy with all the leather hips
Sticky hair, sticky hips, stubble on my sticky lips
Michael you're the only one I'd ever want
Beautiful boys on a beautiful dance-floor
With lyrics like that, this song needs little explanation. It's a fun and dancey tune about a man attracted to another man whilst dancing in a club. It even makes me want to dance with Michael too.
Same Love - Macklemore and Ryan Lewis ft. Mary Lambert (She Keeps Me Warm)
The right-wing conservatives think it's a decision
And you can be cured with some treatment and religion
This eye-opening song was released during the Washington Referendum 74, in support of legalising gay marriage.
Macklemore and Lewis wrote this song as LGBT allies in support of the campaign.
The song starts with Macklemore reflecting on gay stereotypes, which made him believe he might be gay as a child. It brings awareness of how early on we become aware of stereotypes and how harmful they can be.
Macklemore particularly calls out on homophobia in hip-hop, with the powerful lyric "if I was gay I would think hiphop hates me". He has rightfully addressed his frustrations with homophobic lyrics in hip-hop music several times.
Mary Lambert deserves much credit here as her heartwarming song 'She Keeps Me Warm', delivers the brilliant chorus hook, with powerful lyric “I can’t change, even if I tried”.
Plus, the video is so cute.
All The Things She Said - t.A.T.u
When they stop and stare, don't worry me
'Cause I'm feeling for her what she's feeling for me
I can try to pretend, I can try to forget
But it's driving me mad, going out of my head
I wasn’t sure if this should be included, due to the controversy surrounding the two singers being persuaded by their label to pretend to be a couple. Bit creepy really. And makes the otherwise sweet song seem fraudulent.
However, there’s no doubting this song is a timeless classic. It's a powerful, emotive song about the overwhelming infatuation (or love) of a young couple, combined with feelings of confusion.
I Kissed A Girl - Jill Sobule
So we laughed, compared notes
We had a drink, we had a smoke
She took off her overcoat
I kissed a girl
Move over Katy Perry, this song was around 13 years before your song came along!
This song is a sweet, lighthearted and humourous take on two women who find themselves captivated by one another, even though they are both in relationships with men. It's a very honest and rather endearing song. It's also extremely catchy and great to sing along to.
Glad to be Gay - Tom Robinson
The British Police are the best in the world
I don't believe one of these stories I've heard
'Bout them raiding our pubs for no reason at all
Lining the customers up by the wall
This song doesn’t just say it’s ok to be gay, it goes a lot further. Strongly criticising the treatment of LGBT people by the police and law around homosexuality at the time, this song encourages LGBT+ people to come out and celebrate their sexuality, despite this.
It sends a strong message to queer folk, that no matter what shit is thrown at you, to keep pushing through and be "glad to be gay".
Love Is Love - Naz & Ella
I could lie to you and the rest of the world
God knows I've tried
It's not the devil on my shoulder who led me astray
Love is love, you can't take that away
This was the first single we ever released as a band, and it's made its way onto tens of lesbian music playlists on Spotify, so we felt it was only right to mention it here!
Naz wrote this song about being queer and in a religious family, and the sometimes dark consequences of that. It's overall message is that love is boundless and knows no limits, quite simply, love is love.
We love performing this song. It's really delicate and melodic, and tends to grab people's attentions, even in a busy pub.
Boyfriend - Marika Hackman
Heaven knows we're meant to be
But it's turned into a mess
No one takes us seriously just because I wear a dress
It's fine 'cause I am just a girl
"It's just a dream"
A woman really needs a man to make her scream
This is a fun, tongue-in-cheek track but with serious undertones from one of my favourite artists at the moment, Marika Hackman. The song is about a woman having a relationship with another woman who is already in a relationship with a man. Yet, he doesn't take the betrayal seriously as she is having an affair with a woman rather than another man.
It challenges sexists beliefs that many gay women would sadly relate to receiving, and is all delivered in an up-beat track that'll get stuck in your head.
I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend - Girl in Red
Don't look away
Just look at me the same
I don't wanna be your friend
I wanna kiss your lips
I wanna kiss you until I lose my breath
This 20-year old, artist and bedroom producer from Norway caught my attention with her lo-fi, 90's vibe, and overtly gay lyrics.
In 'I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend' she sings about unrequited love of her friend, something many queer women will relate to. I really feel the melancholia and desperation in her vocals, despite the upbeat music behind it.
There we have it! We hope you enjoyed listening to the songs on our list. We are sure there are plenty of brilliant LGBT songs we missed out, so feel free to let us know in the comments!
If you liked this list, please check out our Spotify playlist of acoustic lesbian songs, which includes tracks from Marika Hackman, Big Thief, MUNA, and more.