The future of music

40 Best Gay Singers & Musicians of All Time (LGBTQ+ Singers)

December 8, 2023
Best gay singers

I’ve curated a list celebrating the best gay singers and musicians of all time, artists who have not only made outstanding contributions to music but also championed LGBTQ+ representation.

This article honors their talent, impact, and the indelible mark they’ve left on the music industry.

Top gay singers & musicians of all time

  1. Freddie Mercury
  2. Ricky Martin
  3. Elton John
  4. Mika
  5. Rob Halford
  6. Adam Lambert
  7. George Michael
  8. Sam Smith
  9. Melissa Etheridge
  10. Lance Bass

1. Freddie Mercury

Not long ago, being openly gay often wasn’t well-received by the public and music industry.

And that’s why gay rockstars were so important – and Freddie Mercury was probably the most influential.

After all, Queen is regarded as one of the best rock bands of all time, and their music made a huge impact on the 70s and 80s music scene. 

Although Mercury did keep his personal life private, he has been celebrated in gay community for decades.

If you’re interested in the singer’s life behind the scenes, we recommend checking out the movie Bohemian Rhapsody with Rami Malek.

2. Ricky Martin 

Ricky Martin is the ‘King of Latin Pop’, but he is also one of the most famous gay pop singers.

He came out as gay in 2010, when he was already a big star.

In one of the interviews, the singer said he was inspired by Elton John throughout his life, and he is also a famous gay singer.

Either way, coming out as gay was a life-changing (and liberating) decision for Ricky Martin, and he is now considered one of the most influential LGBT artists in the world.

3. Elton John

Speaking of Elton John… the music legend’s impact on music and culture in general is immense.

But his contribution to the LGBTQ community is also huge.

He declared he is bisexual in the 70s, but he officially came out as gay to Rolling Stone magazine in 1992.

So besides becoming a music star known for hits like “Tiny Dancer” and “I’m Still Standing”, Elton John became an LGBT advocate and icon.

4. Mika

Mika rose to fame in 2007, with his debut album Life in Cartoon Motion.

Generally, he is best-known for his catchy hits such as “Grace Kelly”, “Lollipop”, and “Relax (Take It Easy)” – and all of them still sound great.

At first, Mika declined to label himself, and he kept his personal life to himself.

However, in 2012, he described himself as gay, and he has been more open about his private life ever since. 

All things considered, Mika’s songs are an integral part of modern pop music, and he  remains one of the most influential gay pop stars. 

5. Rob Halford 

Rob Halford is widely known as the leading singer of the heavy metal band Judas Priest.

His operatic vocal style has influenced many heavy metal bands, and his band is regarded as one of the best heavy metal bands of our time.

Halford came out as gay in an interview in 1988.

He also said he is talking about his sexuality more openly now, and that he is hoping he will encourage others to do the same.

Well, he is certainly making a difference, especially in the metal genre, which makes him one of the most influential gay singers in music industry.

6. Adam Lambert 

Adam Lambert is also one of the most famous LGBT musicians in the industry.

He became popular after finishing as runner-up on the eighth season of American Idol.

He has been a successful singer and songwriter since then, selling over 3 million albums.

With the success of his album Tresspassing, Lambert was also the first openly gay singer to have an album reach number one on the Billboard 200 charts.

7. George Michael

George Michael is hands down one of the most iconic LGBT singers on this list.

He was an LGBT rights campaigner and HIV/AIDS charity fundraiser, and he was dedicated to actions aimed at helping LGBT community.

His advocacy was very important because he was one of the most significant cultural icons of the MTV generation.

He was also one of the best-selling musicians of all time.

That being said, George Michael’s contribution to LGBT right was immense, and he will always be remembered as one of the most prominent gay singers of all time.

8. Sam Smith 

And Sam Smith is one of the most influential gay singers of this century.

They are best known for the chart-topping hit “Stay With Me” from their 2014 debut studio album In the Lonely Hour.

They explained that they wrote the song about the man he once loved.

Smith also came out as non-binary and decided to use gender neutral pronouns. 

All things considered, his openness and advocacy made a lot of impact on the visibility of the LGBTQ community.

9. Melissa Etheridge

Melissa Etheridge is a popular American singer, songwriter, and guitarist.

She released her debut album in 1988, but she achieved mainstream success with her fourth album, Yes I Am.

But before she achieved global fame, Etheridge performed in small venues, including lesbian bars.

She came out publicly as lesbian in 1993, and she has been a gay rights activist since then.

10. Lance Bass 

Lance Bass rose to fame as a member of the famous boy band NSYNC, along with Justin Timberlake.

He came out as gay in 2006, in a cover story for People magazine.

That same year, Bass was awarded the Human Rights Campaign Visibility Award.

And he has been one of the most influential gay pop singers ever since.

11. Dusty Springfield

“Son of a Preacher Man” is one of the most popular songs from the 1960s.

It’s Dusty Springfield’s signature song, although she will also be remembered for her songs “Spooky” and “Nothing Has Been Proved.” 

In the 70s and 80s, Springfield was in several relationships with women.

And by the standard of that period of time, she made some rather bold statement regarding her sexual orientation.

In the end, she will always be remembered for her powerful vocals and successful career.

12. Tracy Chapman

When it comes to famous lesbian singers, Tracy Chapman is also one of the names that often comes up.

She is best known for her hits “Fast Car” and “Give Me One Reason.”

Over the years, she has released many successful albums and earned multiple awards.

And she has also been politically and socially active – she even got an honorary doctorate in fine arts thanks to her commitment.

But Chapman has never been really open about her sexuality and personal life in general, and she has always been eager to keep it apart from her professional life.

13. Barry Manilow

Barry Manilow has a career that spans seven decades.

His greatest hits include “I Write the Songs”, “Could It Be Magic”, and “Somewhere Down the Road.” 

Throughout his rich career, Manilow has also written and performed songs for musicals, films, and commercials.

Regarding his personal life, he was married to his high-school sweetheart Susan Deixler in the 60s, but he came out as gay in 2007.

Luckily, he was welcomed with a lot of support from his fans after that statement in People magazine. 

14. Richard O’Brien 

Richard O’Brien is best known for writing the musical stage show The Rocky Horror Show in 1973.

He also co-wrote the screenplay for the Rocky Horror Show film adaptation, and the movie got a surprisingly large cult following.

All in all, Richard O’Brien had a successful career, but he is also known to the public for identifying as third gender.

15. David Bowie

When thinking about famous music artists who made it clear they could be everything, David Bowie certainly comes to mind.

Bowie’s sexuality was a source of speculation for much of his career. 

In a way, he is an iconic gay rock star – not because of his identity, but because he inspired generations of LGBT people.

His performances and style were distinctive and gender-fluid, so although he didn’t like to be labeled and defined by his sexuality, he became an inspiring LGBT figure and icon.

16. Janelle Monae

Janelle Monae is a talented singer, rapper, and actress – in short, she is a superstar.

She has received many awards and nominations throughout her career.

And she has been known to make statements about her sexuality, including the fact that ‘she only dates androids.’

Nevertheless, she is generally supporting the LGBTQ community, and she said she identifies with both bisexuality and pansexuality.

17. Frank Ocean 

The Grammy-award-winning singer Frank Ocean has also opened up about his homosexuality.

To be more specific, he came out in an open letter in 2012.

Although he went on a 4-year hiatus, Ocean is still occasionally recording, along with his work in the fashion industry.

But he is best known for his music and his hit song “Thinkin’ Bout You.”

18. Brandi Carlile

Brandi Carlile is also one of the successful LGBTQ music artists.

Best known for her song “Story”, Carlile is the winner of 18 Grammy awards.

She has been open about her sexuality since 2002.

And she has been a part of several activism campaigns, advocating for LGBT rights as well as empowerment of women.

19. Bessie Smith

Nicknamed the ‘Empress of the Blues’, Bessie Smith is arguably one of the best blues singers of all time.

As a star in the 20s and the 30s, she helped define the sound of jazz and blues.

And she belongs on this list of the best gay singers of all time because of her bisexuality.

Smith was married to a man, but she was open about her bisexuality and known to have affairs with women.

20. Ma Rainey 

On the other hand, Gertrude “Ma” Rainey earned the nickname the “Mother of the Blues.”

She was an influential early blues singer and an inspiration for many generations of blues singers.

Many of Ma Rainey’s songs emphasize her attraction to women.

And there was a rumor that she was romantically involved with Bessie Smith.

21. Lady Gaga 

Lady Gaga is known for his image reinventions, and that includes gender-bending performances.

She is definitely one of the most innovative pop artists in the industry, and she keeps making new music and projects. 

Some of her smashing hits also became the LGBT anthems – we’re talking about “Born This Way” and “Just Dance.”

But besides openly supporting gay community, Lady Gaga has also spoken openly about her bisexuality.

22. Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus has also been an active supporter of LGBT community throughout her career.

Even though she rose to fame as a Disney teen star, she turned out to be a bold pop star who keeps exploring and experimenting with her image.

When it comes to her private life, Miley is probably mostly spoken about in the context of her turbulent relationship with Liam Hemsworth. 

But she has also identified with pansexuality and being gender fluid.

23. Janis Joplin

Janis Joplin is arguably one of the best vocalists of all time

She was known for her powerful vocals and unmatched stage presence.

Some of Janis Joplin’s classics include “Me and Bobby McGee”, “Maybe”, and “Piece Of My Heart.”

But she will also always be remembered as one of the best gay musicians of all time.

She had several significant relationships with men, but she also had relationships with women.

24. Michael Stipe

Known as the lead singer of R.E.M, Michael Stipe has one of the most recognizable voices in the music industry.

He inspired many other successful artists, and he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. 

In one of the interviews, Stipe described himself as a ‘queer artist’, although he previously didn’t want to label himself gay or straight. 

He lives with his long-term partner, the photographer Thomas Dozol.

25. Lil Nas X

Montero Lamar Hill, known to the world as Lil Nas X, rose to fame with the release of the country rap single “Old Town Road” in 2019.

The song spent 19 weeks on the top of the Billboard Hot 100 – meanwhile, Lil Nas X came out as gay, which made him the first artist to do so while being on the top of the chart.

The same year, Time named him as one of the 25 most influential people on the Internet.

All things considered, Lil Nas X has a well-deserved spot on this list.

26. Tyler, The Creator

Tyler, The Creator is a successful rapper and record producer who rose to prominence after releasing his debut mixtape in 2009.

Eventually, he became one of the most important names in the alternative hip hop scene, and his songs like “Yonkers” and “Earfquake” have gotten a lot of praise and attention.

There has been a lot of speculation regarding his sexuality, until he came out as bisexual. 

27. Billie Joe Armstrong

Green Day’s frontman Billie Joe Armstrong came out as bisexual in 1995.

So it’s fair to say that he is one of the most famous LGBT rock singers in the music industry.

His band helped define the sound of a generation, and their impact on the genre is undeniable.

Billie Joe Armstrong is also credited with popularizing the sound of punk rock in the U.S.

28. Jason Mraz

Jason Mraz is best known for his 2008 song “I’m Yours.” 

He also recorded a successful duet with Colbie Cailat called “Lucky.” 

Besides being a talented musician, Mraz is also known for his philanthropy and activism.

The issues he is involved in include environment and human rights, as well as LGBT rights.

When it comes to Jason Mraz’s personal life and sexuality, he identifies as bisexual.

29. Joan Jett

When it comes to the greatest female musicians of all time, Joan Jett is definitely on the list. 

Her impact on the rock music genre is huge, especially because of the work she did with the Blackhearts.

Joan Jett & the Blackhearts are best known for their rendition of the song “I Love Rock ‘n Roll.”

Although Joan Jett never made a statement regarding her sexuality, she is often associated with LGBT community, and she was known to be involved with women.

30. Troye Sivan 

Troye Sivan is a famous Australian-South African singer-songwriter, actor and YouTuber.

His debut studio album Blue Neighborhood brought him international fame, and he became an idol to many young people. 

He has been open about being gay since 2013, when he confirmed his sexuality in a YouTube video.

31. Fergie

Fergie rose to fame as a member of the Black Eyed Peas.

But she’s also been having a successful solo career, and she released many hits throughout her career, including “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “London Bridge.”

Fergie has always been open about her sexuality, and she has discussed it in several interviews.

She has also always been supportive of the LGBT community.

32. Rufus Wainwright

A Canadian singer and songwriter Rufus Wainwright has been open about his homosexuality since he was a teenager.

He married German art administrator Jörn Weisbrodt, and he also has a daughter – she was conceived via sperm donation to Lorca Cohen, daughter of Leonard Cohen.

Besides music, Wainwright has also worked in television, film, and theater.

All in all, he is a famous gay musician with a rich, versatile career.

33. Neil Tennant

Neil Tennant is a co-founder of Pet Shop Boys, one of the most popular music duos of all time.

In fact, he is one of the most successful musicians in British history.

Tennant publicly came out as gay in 1994, when he confirmed it in the interview for the British gay lifestyle magazine Attitude. 

However, he has been rather quiet about his personal and romantic life.

34. Billy Porter 

Billy Porter is one of the famous gay black singers who achieved fame performing on Broadway.

He won a Tony for his role as Lola in Kinky Boots in 2013, and he has been in the spotlight ever since.

Billy Porter came out as gay when he was 16, and he is an outspoken advocate for LGBT and racial rights.

35. Hayley Kiyoko

Hayley Kiyoko is an American singer, dancer, and actress.

Her 2018 debut studio album Expectations charted in several countries, and she is also known for her early roles in movies. 

Kiyoko has been an advocate for LGBT rights, and her music often revolves around her experiences as well as general LGBT-related topics. 

Over the years, Kiyoko has gathered a lot of fans around the world, and that’s one of the reasons why her advocacy makes a huge difference. 

36. Mark Feehily 

Mark Feehily rose to fame as a member of the Irish boy band Westlife.

Westlife is one of the most successful Irish groups of all time, and they achieved huge success.

During Westlife media interviews, Feehily never talked about his sexuality or personal life.

But in 2005, Feehily came out as gay, and he has been an activist for LGBTQ rights ever since.

Feehily is also the highest-charting LGBT performer on the UK Singles Chart.

37. Steve Grand

Another famous gay singer we want to mention is Steve Grand.

The “All-American Boy” singer has always been open about his sexuality.

In fact, Grand is one of the few openly gay country artists, which makes his openness even more important and influential.

Grand has performed on numerous Pride events, and his music often revolves around his experiences as a gay person.

38. Stephen Gately

Stephen Gately was a co-lead singer of the Irish pop group Boyzone.

Gately came out in 1999, and that was a bold move considering Ireland’s conservative attitudes towards LGBTQ people.

But he came out as gay nevertheless, which made him one of the most influential gay pop singers of his era.

39. Halsey

Ashley Nicolette Frangipane, known professionally as Halsey, is currently one of the most famous pop singers.

Aside from music, Halsey is an activist – she has been involved in suicide prevention awareness and racial justice protests.

She has also been open about her bisexuality, and she often tackles her orientation in her music.

Moreover, Halsey is known for regularly donating to pro-LGBTQIA+ organizations.

40. Demi Lovato 

Demi Lovato got a lot of attention in 2021 when she publicly came out as non-binary.

She describes her sexuality as fluid, generally identifying as pansexual.

Her openness and advocacy are very influential because of her large fan base.

Demi was a Disney star in the TV show Camp Rock.

But she has established herself as a successful singer and songwriter, releasing many successful hits and receiving numerous accolades.

All in all, Demi Lovato is hands down one of the most famous LGBT music artists out there.

Best Gay Singers & Musicians Of All Time – Final Thoughts

There’s no doubt about it – there are more LGBTQ role models in the music scene than ever before.

And all of the LGBTQ musicians we mentioned today helped make that come true.

That being said, they’re being celebrated for their contribution to music as well as LGBTQ visibility and rights.

Similar Articles:

Best Gay Songs

Best Female Singers

Best 80s Musicians

Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

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