The mainstream music industry presents a wide gender gap, where women are seriously underrepresented. Just under 22% are musical artists, around 12% are songwriters and only 2% are music producers. Among obstacles, some stood out: discounted and doubted for their skillset, stereotyped and sexualized, as well as having difficulty navigating a male-dominated industry. Since entertainment industries are highly based on relationships and networking, it makes sense that such challenges would severely damage a career in these fields.
Thankfully, some solutions to this glaring problems are emerging: starting artistic collectives centered around women’s success in music to promote an inclusive environment and equal opportunities, creating directories to find female professionals for those wishing to be more inclusive, as well as mentorship programs to encourage more women into technical professions in the music industry. This is why supporting and bringing the spotlight onto female music talents is incredibly important, as well as, for those in the field, to be hiring and recommending female audio engineers, sound designers, etc.
Pride is still a big deal. It may have undergone criticism for its commercialization in certain cities or people being ill-informed about its history of bravery and discrimination, but it is still a dedicated time to acknowledge and celebrate who we are. That is why the best songs according to us are the ones that make us feel empowered and seen. But also allow us to have some fun: nothing screams celebration like The Village People’s “YMCA”! Let’s also not forget Lady Gaga’s iconic hit “Born This Way,” an unapologetic anthem to shout the lyrics to. We’ll also add “Immaterial” by SOPHIE, an incredible queer figure and trailblazer in the hyperpop sphere. Share your favorite Pride songs with us on social media; we’d love to hear them.
Queerness in pop music
Queer people have always been a part of pop music; one of the people responsible for synthesizers being commercially sold is Wendy Carlos, a woman that had undergone a medical transition in the 1960s. There is definitely an increase in openly LGBTIQ+ music creators in the last decade though, such as Lady Gaga, Sam Smith, Hayley Kiyoko, Janelle Monae, Troye Sivan, Kim Petras or Kehlani. More recently, Lil Nas X has pushed through a barrier in bringing black queer representation to the forefront of hip hop, a genre considered closed minded to this type of diversity, with his record-breaking hit “Old Town Road”.
Fierce allyship has also developed within the past few years. From Macklemore’s “Same Love”, an anthem for the same-sex marriage campaign in America, to Jennifer Lopez producing “The Fosters”, a show about a biracial lesbian couple’s family to Taylor Swift’s song “You Need To Calm Down” with a prominent queer cast in the music video, allyship has become more outspoken and more commonplace in pop music. More has to be done, but progress in making LGBTIQ+ issues more visible to our allies has been undeniable.
Gay Music Icons
Throughout decades, there have been gay icons, particularly in music, that were heavily supported by the gay community and welcomed into their spaces. Acts like Freddy Mercury, Elton John, David Bowie or Boy George provided direct representation of gay creatives in the spotlight, while also showing alternative ways of fashion and lifestyles. Gay clubs also had an unforgettable impact: they were an incredible launching platform and devoted supporters of various types of dance music, such as disco and house music. This is the case for Cher; her music was so appealing to the love for dance, that the gay community fully embraced her as an icon as well.
Barbara Streisand began her career in a gay nightclub as well, so it came as no surprise that she would be venerated as well. Finally, fierce allies have also found heaps of support from the gay community, one so vulnerable to discrimination. For instance, Madonna and Annie Lennox (Eurythmics) became faces of inclusivity by being outspoken and compassionate during the HIV/AIDS epidemic. More recently, Ariana Grande has been welcomed in Pride spaces for advocating for the LGBTIQ+ acceptance unapologetically.
What are songs for my WLW playlist?
Unfortunately, the representation for WLW songs has been incredibly poor on the mainstream stage. The ones that do see the day have an audience of dedicated fans, hungry for representation of their feelings and experience. While a bigger playlist is on the way for sweet WLW tunes, we’ll tease you with a few of our favorites, including: the iconically catchy pop anthem “Girls Like Girls” by Hayley Kiyoko, the unapologetic and infectious “Pussy is God” by King Princess, the acoustic ballad “Honey” by Kehlani and the retro and dancy track “Girlfriend” by Christine and The Queens. Stay tuned for our list of the best WLW songs to cover all of your moods!