For decades, LGBTQ+ representation in the music industry has been—let’s be honest—lacking, despite the fact that queer artists have always played an integral role in it. From the country to pop to indie genres, we’ve all heard some phenomenal music, and many of the talented artists behind it are actually queer. As society has become more accepting, more female artists have come out as lesbians/queer. These people have brought to the table the inclusive music and queer representation that we’ve craved for years. Without further ado, here’s a list of 20 Talented Queer/Lesbian Singers.
Hayley Kiyoko wasn’t nicknamed “Lesbian Jesus” for nothing. With hit songs like “Girls like Girls,” the triple-threat actress, singer, and dancer has become a celebrated artist among queer listeners. Kiyoko has always been public about her queer identity and sexuality—something she discovered when she was about six years old. As of now, she has released two albums and twenty-eight singles.
Girl in Red
Girl in Red, also known as Marie Ulven, is also hailed as a lesbian icon by the queer community. In fact, on TikTok, a “do you listen to Girl in Red?” trend has even emerged as a way to detect other queer women. The Norwegian singer-songwriter recorded her first two EPs, “Chapter 1” and “Chapter 2,” from her bedroom in 2018 and 2019 respectively, and has since gained a lot of popularity. Along with sapphic relationships and romance, Girl in Red sings about topics such as mental health.
Cari Elise Fletcher rose to fame in 2015 after the release of her single “War Paint,” and quickly became a mainstream queer artist. I mean, just take a look at some of her songs: “Girls Girls Girls,” “Her Body is Bible”…Recently, her newest single, “Becky’s So Hot,” has received a lot of attention on social media. In it, she sings about being attracted to her ex girlfriend’s new girlfriend, who is actually named Becky.
This singer-songwriter initially identified as bisexual, but came out as a lesbian in 2021. Later that year, they also revealed that they use she/they pronouns. Kehlani’s career started when she was only 14 years old, and following a rough patch during which she was homeless, they released a track on soundcloud called “ANTISUMMERLUV.” This was what really turned things around for the artist, and they are now very well-known not only within the queer community, but in general.
Janelle Monáe is a singer, songwriter, rapper, author, and actress (talk about multipotentiality!). She came out as pansexual in 2018 and nonbinary in 2022. They use she/they pronouns. Monáe is best-known for songs like “Make me Feel” and “Tightrope,” and for her performances in movies such as Hidden Figures (2016).
Best-known for her collaboration with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis on “Same Love,” Mary Lambert is openly gay and newly engaged to her partner, Wyatt Hermansen. Her music is very representative of her identity, as evidenced by songs like “She Keeps Me Warm.” As a Christian, she also draws from her experiences as a lesbian within the religion.
Zoe Montana Hoetzel, or Zolita, is an American singer-songwriter and openly queer artist. Her self-directed music video for her song “Explosion” went viral in 2016, propelling the artist into the spotlight and earning her an ever-increasing following. Her music videos have become a hallmark of her work; they’re very cinematic—and very gay. For instance, the music video for “Somebody I Fucked Once” features a lesbian cheerleader secretly in love with another girl at school. It provides representation to lesbian high schoolers who, like herself, may not see themselves represented in media.
Like many, Dorothy Miranda Clark’s career began on YouTube, but she has become a major figure of LGBTQ+ representation in the music industry. The British singer-songwriter came out as bisexual in 2016. Her song “She” is one of her best-known songs and focuses on a girl being in love with another girl who can’t reciprocate. In total, she has released one album and thirteen singles.
How often do you listen to lesbian country singers? Not very often, I’m willing to bet. Brandy Clark released her first album, “12 Stories,” in 2013, and has since become a leader for queer women in the genre of country music. She has always been open about her sexuality and has also received much support from the country music community. She remains one of the most well-known names within the genre itself.
Katorah Kassanova Marrero knew she was gay at age five. Now, at 30, she is one of the most well-known openly gay rappers. While she refuses to label her sexuality, the rapper isn’t interested in dating men. Despite the fact that the hip hop genre is very male-dominated, Young M.A. has become very successful; her single “Ooouuu” was in the top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100.
Halsey’s real name is Ashley (Nicolette Frangipane), which utilizes the same letters (did you know that?). She proudly identifies as bisexual and, in March of 2021, changed the pronouns in her Instagram bio to she/they. After the change, however, they stopped doing interviews after having their pronouns disrespected. The artist released her debut album, “Room 93,” in 2014. As of 2020, Halsey had sold over a million albums and their music had been streamed over 6 million times in the US.
Claire Elizabeth Cotrill, better-known as Clairo, became famous after a viral YouTube video in 2017. A year later, she came out online as bisexual. Her song “Sofia,” from her debut album “Immunity,” is hailed as a gay anthem. In an interview with Beats Insider, she pointed out the corniness in the lyrics and that while “everyone’s done that,” it hasn’t always been done about lesbian romance.
This indie singer-songwriter from Los Angeles identifies very openly as bisexual. She began as a member of the band Sloppy Jane before becoming a solo artist, and has released two albums and nineteen singles. The artist stated that after coming out, she had a falling out with her mother. Despite her mother’s initial stance, however, the two have since reconciled. Bridgers is very outspoken in her support for the LGBTQ+ community, and her music’s deep themes tend to resonate with many queer listeners.
Feloni, also known as Trish Best, is an American rapper and lesbian. She came out in 2006 during an episode of MTV’s documentary series “Coming Out Stories,” and has been very open about the fact that she is a lesbian. When her hip-hop album “A Woman’s Revenger” was released the following year, Feloni became the first “out” rapper with an album so focused on her sexuality.
Michaela Mullany Strauss, known as King Princess, has had a very early start in the music industry. She was offered a record deal at just eleven years old, though she didn’t take it. Now 23, the Brooklyn-born singer-songwriter has become a lesbian icon for queer listeners. They are also nonbinary and, according to their Instagram bio, use she/they/it pronouns.
Tegan and Sara
This Canadian indie-pop duo has been a hallmark of queer representation in the music industry since their career began in 1998. The two, who are identical twins, have been open about their sexual orientation from the outset. They’ve released a whopping nine studio albums and, in 2016, established the Tegan and Sara Foundation, which aims to aid projects, summer camps, etc. for the LGBTQ+ community.
The vocalist of this rock band, Lyndsey Gunnulfsen, is a lesbian. Since the band’s formation, Lynn has been openly queer, though hesitant to express it despite her increasing popularity within the LGBTQ+ community. The band recognizes the importance of representation in the music industry, Lynn herself valuing that as a lesbian. They have currently released three albums.
A former-Disney star, Dove Cameron officially came out as queer during an Instagram Live in 2020. In 2022, released the single “Boyfriend,” in which she sings about how she can “be a better boyfriend than him.” While Cameron tends not to label her sexuality, she has called herself both queer and bisexual in the past.
Queen Latifah, also known as Dana Elise Owens, is not only a famous musician, but an actress as well, having appeared in films like The Equalizer (2020–) and Hustle (2022). In terms of music, she began as a hip hop artist and transitioned into soul. She tends to keep her personal life private, but in 2021, made reference to her female partner during the BET Awards.
Melissa Etheridge began her career in lesbian bars and is now one of the most famous and classic lesbian artists. She came out in 1993, pioneering the way for future artists to share that part of themselves. Her debut album was released in 1988 and, as of now, she has 14 studio albums and 13 singles.
Are you surprised to discover that some of your favorite artists are actually queer? The people on this list have worked extremely hard to make it in the music industry; 50 years ago, the kind of representation they have given us would have been unheard of. Now, some of the most popular songs are sung by lesbians. Go listen to them, if you haven’t already! Their music is truly changing the music industry.