5 Rising LGBT Artists
For the month of June, the world celebrates Pride, a time for many to set aside the daily struggle and find joy in being part of the queer community. It is also a month to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Riots and recognize and honor those fighting to end homophobia, legalize same sex marriage worldwide, and stand up for trans rights.
With positive visibility growing every year, a new wave of artists has emerged, choosing to launch their careers out and proud. Here are our top five favorite LGBTQ artists of the moment.
Troye Sivan’s meteoric rise to fame began in his native Australia, where he performed on a charity telethon before signing with EMI Australia. Since then, he’s gone global, releasing chart-topping EPs and his acclaimed debut album Blue Neighborhood. Sivan’s array of talents is seemingly limitless. Beyond singing and songwriting, he is an accomplished actor, portraying a child James Howlett in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. He’ll soon appear in the upcoming film Boy Erased, alongside Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe.
Sivan came out as gay in 2013, and is known for being honest about his sexuality in his music. His sophomore LP, titled Bloom, is both a celebration and exploration of his daily life as an openly gay man. The songs on the album detail a variety of experiences, from Sivan’s early adventures to his current maturity, all rooted in the context of increasing self-esteem. Also on Bloom is Sivan’s collaboration with Ariana Grande, the catchy single “Dance To This.”
Bloom will be released August 31st, and three singles (including “Dance To This”) are already available. Be sure to check out the new album and keep an eye out for upcoming tour dates.
Actress and musician Hayley Kiyoko is no stranger to the world of entertainment. At age 6, she asked for drum lessons and soon began writing her own songs. As a child, she appeared in several ad campaigns as well as a Nickelodeon feature about youth athletics. During her teenage years, Kiyoko performed with girl group The Stunners, signing with Columbia Records and supporting Justin Bieber on tour. In 2009, she landed her first big role as Velma Dinkley in Scooby-Doo! The Mystery Begins. With such a résumé, one might expect Kiyoko’s career to blast into the mainstream with ease. Indeed, her first solo release, A Belle to Remember, met with critical acclaim. Yet it wasn’t until Kiyoko did the unexpected that she truly broke into the spotlight and cemented her legendary status.
The unexpected came in the form of her 2015 single “Girls Like Girls.” The single and the music video served as a public coming out for Kiyoko, who identifies as gay. The response was tremendous; “Girls Like Girls” currently has over 92 million views and helped Kiyoko establish a bolder, more confident sound, evident on her debut album Expectations. The album’s songs revolve around Kiyoko’s sexuality, and ultimately aim to normalize lesbian identity. Her fans certainly approve, semi-jokingly dubbing Kiyoko the “Lesbian Jesus.”
Expectations is out now and Kiyoko is currently on tour; catch her live when she plays near you
Who is Mykki Blanco? The NYC-based artist is notoriously hard to define, embracing multiple musical styles, gender identities, and personas. Blanco’s influences range from Lil Kim to GG Allin to Marilyn Manson. Blanco originates from a punk rock background, running away to New York City at the age of 16 before moving to California and then back to New York in 2008. From 2011 to 2014, Blanco put out several mixtapes and EPs, with contributions from major artists including Kathleen Hanna and Le1f.
Blanco is HIV positive, which the artist disclosed on Facebook in 2015. Blanco originally planned to change careers after the announcement, but the incredibly supportive response inspired a change of heart. Blanco released the debut album Mykki in 2016, a dark, humorous work full of twists and turns. The artist excels in defying categorization, breaking down boundaries, and having enormous fun while doing so.
Listen to Mykki and check Blanco’s website for future tour dates!
Hailing from North Las Vegas, singer-songwriter Shamir spent his childhood steeped in the musical teachings of his aunt and parents. His aunt worked in the music industry and often had musicians over to the family home. Shamir started writing songs at age 9, later recording tracks during his high school years. He released his initial EP Northtown in 2014. The record’s first song, “If It Wasn’t True,” garnered massive praise. Not content to rest on his laurels, Shamir put out his debut LP Ratchet in 2015, following it with Hope and Revelations, both in 2017. With a huge array of different sounds and styles, Shamir’s work displays not only his skill, but also his versatility.
Part of Shamir’s unique sound is his countertenor voice, perceived as androgynous on much of his music. Though he accepts male pronouns, Shamir identifies as queer and non-binary. In his songs, he examines the world from this perspective, providing wry insights and assured declarations. Still, the music is poppy enough to never be bogged down by his thoughtful commentary. Now based in Philadelphia, Shamir released his latest album, Resolution, this past march. Resolution is contemplative, genre-bending, and catchy; there’s a lot going on, but Shamir makes it all a pleasure to listen to.
Check out Resolution and visit Shamir’s tour dates to see when he’ll be in your town!
In 2013, at a party near the University of Southern California, two students began playing guitar together. A third student soon added her voice, and electro-pop trio MUNA was born. Initially unsure of the sound they wanted to pursue, the group settled on a dark electronic pop, accented by clean production and strong vocals. MUNA made their major-label debut in 2016 with the EP Loudspeaker, followed by a performance at Lollapalooza, a national tour, and an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
MUNA didn’t slow down after this success, releasing their first studio album About U in 2017. The record exhibits the group’s increasingly professional, sophisticated sound, as well as their dedication to delivering a powerful message. All three members of MUNA identify as queer, and they explore issues of identity, discrimination, and sexuality in their music. The band makes a point of being role models for the next generation of queer youth. By showing that one can be queer and cool and successful, the members of MUNA hope to make life easier for young queer people. The group’s popularity indicates that their message is certainly being heard.
Make sure to listen to About U, and look for MUNA next time they hit the road!