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BWW Exclusive: In Honor of Gay Pride - THE 101 GREATEST LGBTQ SONGS/ANTHEMS OF ALL TIME - from Judy Garland to Lady Gaga, from Gloria Gaynor to Frank Ocean

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BWW Exclusive: In Honor of Gay Pride - THE 101 GREATEST LGBTQ SONGS/ANTHEMS OF ALL TIME - from Judy Garland to Lady Gaga, from Gloria Gaynor to Frank Ocean

"If at the end you want them to cheer/Keep it gay, keep it gay, keep it gay!" --from Mel Brooks' THE PRODUCERS

RuPaul. Frank Ocean. Judy Garland. Elton John. Gloria Gaynor. Mary Lambert. Boy George. The Village People. Martha Wash. Scissor Sisters. And the Pet Shop Boys. All of these artists can boast being represented by more than one song on this list of the greatest LGBTQ songs and anthems of all time.

My hope with a list like this is that you seek out some of the lesser-known titles, to actually hear them on Spotify, You Tube or Apple Music. Songs like "Nobody's Straight in L.A." by the Miracles or Tom Paxton's "Anita O.J."--songs forgotten these days--will certainly open your eyes. And some songs have hidden gay meanings that you may not have realized (check out the Beatles song at #82).

The list is extremely diverse, with folk songs and disco, jazz and country, showtunes and current hip-hip. The earliest song is by Bessie Smith from the 1920's; the most recent from just last year. There's a lot here to celebrate, to be proud of. So let's start counting them down, from #101 to #1. See if your favorites made the grade. Have fun!

THE 101 GREATEST LGBTQ ANTHEMS & SONGS OF ALL TIME

101. "Rainbowland" by Mylie Cyrus with Dolly Parton [2017]

We start our Pride journey here, with Cyrus, who has come out as gender-neutral, singing this endearing duet with her godmother, Dolly Parton. As Cyrus told Ellen DeGeneres: "So it's saying if all of us are so different and we all look so different and different shades of humanity, what a rainbow we could really be and live in that land and celebrate it." Amen!

100. "The Boy from..." by Linda Lavin [1966]

The great Linda Lavin's breathy vocals make this a hoot, a parody of "The Girl from Ipanema" with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim under the nom de plume Esteban Rio Nido (from The Mad Show). It recounts a young girl who just doesn't understand why the object of her affection--the Boy from Tacarembo la Tumba del Fuego Santa Malipas Zacatecas la Junta del Sol y Cruz--wears vermillion, must be Castilian, whose friends call him Lillian, and who shows 100% no interest in her.

99. "I Love You, Alice B. Toklas" by Harper's Bizarre [1968]

The title song to a forgotten late -1960's comedy starring Peter Sellers about middle Americans devouring pot brownies. Harper's Bizarre was an American sunshine pop band, sort of poor man's Association, whose peppy "Sugar Sugar" kind of song truly belongs on the list: "I love you Alice B. Toklas...and so does Gertrude Stein!"

98. "Let's Have a Kiki" by Scissor Sisters [2012]

A "kiki" is part of gay culture, a gathering of friends for the sole purpose of gossip.

97. "Anita O.J." by Tom Paxton [1977]

There was a moment in the 1970's when Anita Bryant was as dangerous to the LGBTQ community as any politician has ever been. The high profile Florida Orange Juice spokesperson helped the horrific Save Our Children foundation in banning gay men and women from teaching in public schools in the Miami-Dace County area. "You spoke in Miami to set the record straight," Paxton sings in "Anita O.J.," his humorous take on the situation. "Gave the folks a target acceptable to hate." A similar bill would go down in flames in California, thanks in part to the political efforts of the first openly gay man elected to public office, Harvey Milk. Although Bryant would become a joke to the country, rightly forgotten by history, her efforts helped usher in the conservative Christian movement of evangelicals, also known as the Moral Majority or Christian Coalition, that would rear its ugly anti-gay head throughout the next few decades.

96. "If You Were Gay" by John Tartaglia & Rick Lyon [2003]

From Avenue Q--Sesame Street for adults--two puppets not unlike Bert and Ernie--Nicky and Rod--sing this funny but heartfelt song of gay denial.

95. "You Know What They Do to Guys Like Us in Prison" by My Chemical Romance [2004]

Word is, the song was inspired by a shared kiss between Gerald Way and Bert McCrakken in a game of Truth or Dare: "Now, but I can't/And I don't know/How we're just two men as God had made us/Well, I can't, well, I can/Too much, too late, or just not enough of this/Pain in my heart for your dying wish/I'll kiss your lips again."

94. "Are You a Boy or Are You a Girl?" by the Barbarians [1965]

Although this garage band classic was originally written against the long-haired British groups who invaded the Billboard charts, starting with the Beatles, its title now takes on a more androgynous meaning.

93. "Masculine Women & Feminine Men" by The Savoy Havana Band [1927]

Another androgyny masterpiece, way ahead of its time: "Masculine women! Feminine Men!/Which is the rooster, which is the hen/It's hard to tell 'em apart today."

92. "Take Your Mama" by Scissor Sisters [2004]

This neo-glam rocker, sounding like Elton John on his best day, was inspired by lead singer Jake Shears' coming out to his mother. A song so catchy and fun, it's impossible not to bop to it.

91. "Ain't Nobody Straight in L.A." by the Miracles [1975

This one is a shocker, not only that it's so far ahead of its time in its openness in discussing gay culture, but that it was produced by Motown, a follow-up to the Miracles' seismic hit, "Love Machine." With the Miracles' (sans Smokey Robinson) smooth harmonies and the song's Latin-fueled music, this is an astounding listen: "Ain't nobody straight in L.A./It seems that everybody is gay/Homosexuality is part of society/I guess they needed some more variety/Freedom of expression is really the thing." Just two years before this song was released, homosexuality was deemed a mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association. And here is a mainstream Motown act, in the early days of disco, singing about gayness so openly, naively, but sweetly. If you haven't heard this, find it on YouTube right now and listen. Guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

90. "Pull Up to the Bumper" by Grace Jones [1981]

From the album Nightclubbing, this is one of the more suggestive songs on this list, where gay icon, Grace Jones, sings about certain sex acts not so subtly: Pull up to my bumper baby/In your long black limousine/Pull up to my bumper baby/And drive it in between/Pull up to it, don't drive through it/Back it, up twice, now that fits nice/Grease it, spray it/Let me lubricate it."

89. "Not the Boy Next Door" by Peter Allen [1983]

Allen's bouncy declaration, a sort of post-coming out anthem: "Though I may look the same way to you/Underneath there is somebody new!" I picked the original for the list, but don't miss Hugh Jackman's version either, from his hit show, The Boy from Oz.

88. "Honey" by Kehlani [2017]

In 2018, after a very tough year that involved a suicide attempt, singer Kehlani wrote about her personal life on Twitter: "I'm queer. Not bi, not straight. I'm attracted to women, men, REALLY attracted to queer men, non-binary people, intersex people, trans people. lil poly pansexual." This song fits in with those sentiments: "I like my girls just like I like my honey sweet/A little selfish/I like my women like I like my money green/A little jealous."

87. "The Woman in Your Life" by Alix Dobkin [1973]

The earnest opening track from lesbian folk singer Alix Dobkin's album, Lavender Jane Loves Women, says it all: "The woman in your life, knows simply what is true/She knows the simple ways to touch, to make you whole now/The woman in your life, she can touch so easily/She knows everything you do, because the woman in your life is you."

86. "Ballad of the Sad Young Men" by Roberta Flack [1966]

Look how far the LGBTQ community has come. In this, Flack croons a slow, sad torch song about men who seem lost because they cannot be themselves: "All the sad young men, sitting in the bars/Knowing neon nights, and missing all the stars/All the sad young men, drifting through the town/Drinking up the night, trying not to drown." It's important to hear songs like this, to see how far we as a nation have progressed.

85. "Girls/Girls/Boys" by Panic! At the Disco [2013]

Lead singer Brendan Urie, who came out as pansexual a couple of years ago, wrote this about a threesome he had in his teens, when he was with a bisexual girl and her girlfriend. He sings, "And never did I think that I/Would be caught in the way you got me/But girls love girls and boys/And love is not a choice."

84. "He's My Secret Passion" by Danny Yates & His Orchestra [1930]

83. "Secret Love" by Doris Day [1953]

82. "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" by the Beatles [1965]

Before recent years (hell, even now) so many gay men and women had to hide their true identities, like a group of Clark Kents running around so the world wouldn't know that they're in actuality Supermen. What's shocking about "He's My Secret Passion" is how frank it is for 1930, especially knowing that a man is singing it: "I don't know his name, or where he came/But I think of him night and day/He doesn't know me, never seems to see/The lovelight in my eyes when I look his way." Doris Day's "Secret Love" would become a pre-Stonewall gay anthem. And according to several music historians, the Beatles' "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" is John Lennon's ode to his gay manager, Brian Epstein, who many believe was secretly (or not so secretly) in love with John. This song, influenced by Bob Dylan, was John's response to him.

81. "Girls Like Girls" by Hayley Kiyoko [2015]

Called "Lesbian Jesus" by her many fans, Kiyoko told Us Weekly about the writing of her anthem, "Girl Like Girls: "I loved the idea of how all these guys always are stealing other guys' girls and I was like, 'There's no female anthem for a girl stealing another guy's girl,' and that is the coolest thing ever..."

80. "I Ain't Goin' to Play Second Fiddle" by Bessie Smith [1925]

Jazz age blues singer Bessie Smith, who was married more than once, was actually bisexual and had various female sexual partners. Her infidelities as well as her husbands' are the basis for "I Ain't Goin' to Play Second Fiddle": "Ain't gonna play no second fiddle 'cause/I'm used to playin' lead." In an interesting side note, Smith, who had died in 1937, had an unmarked grave until 1970 when another bisexual blues singer, Janis Joplin, bought one for her.

79. "Never Close Our Eyes" by Adam Lambert [2012]

What "Let's Live for Today" was to the 1960's, this was to the 2010's, vocals provided by the openly gay Lambert: "But you know I wish that this night would never be over/ There's plenty of time to sleep when we die/ So let's just stay awake until we grow older/ If I had my way we'd never close our eyes, our eyes, never!"

78. "Sissy the Walk" by Rupaul [2014]

Queen of the Drag Queens, Rupaul Andre Charles, lays down the law in "Sissy the Walk": "I'm a femme queen, mother of a house of no shame/My p*** is on fire, now kiss the flame!"

77. "Real Men" by Joe Jackson [1982]

76. "Macho Man" by the Village People [1978]

What constitutes a manly man? When the famous Real Men Don't Eat Quiche book came out, Joe Jackson, who identifies as bisexual, came back with an answer song, "Real Men": "See the nice boys, dancing in pairs/Golden earring golden tan/Blow-wave in the hair/Sure they're all straight, straight as a line/All the gays are macho/Can't you see their leather shine." In that same vein, years earlier, the Village People emerged with this gay anthem, thanks to Jacques Morali. The Village People were formed after Morali placed an ad in the papers: "Macho types wanted: must dance and have a moustache." And thus came the iconic group made up of a cowboy, Native American, police officer, construction worker and leather man. "Macho Man" would be their first Top-40 hit (it made it to #25, not bad for overtly gay music in 1978): "Jogging in the mornings, go man go/Work outs in the health spa, muscles glow/You can best believe that, he's a macho man/Ready to get down with, anyone he can!"

75. "Transgender Dysphoria Blues" by Against Me! [2014]

Against Me!'s "Transgender Dysphoria Blues" doesn't mince words when it comes to trans rights: "You've got no c*nt in your strut/You've got no hips to shake/And you know it's obvious/But we can't choose how we're made."

74. "All the Girls Love Alice" by Elton John [1973]

73. "The Killing of Georgie, Parts 1 & 2" by Rod Stewart [1976]

Before society grew more enlightened regarding LGBTQ rights, in the world of pop culture, gays either wound up as villains or victims. In these two songs, the title character is murdered. In the fantastically rocking "All the Girls Love Alice," Elton sings about an unmistakable gay character, once claiming "[it's] about a young girl who gets seduced by naughty ladies." And yes, that's Kiki Dee with the background vocals. "Poor little darling with a chip out of her heart," Elton sings. "It's like acting in a movie when you got the wrong part/Getting your kicks in another girl's bed/And it was only last Tuesday they found you in the subway dead." The powerful and sad "The Killing of Georgie" recounts the true-life murder of a flamboyant New Yorker, killed on the streets by a New Jersey gang. A song like this could get too lurid in the wrong hands, but Rod's empathy and love for his gay friend, along with the matter-of-fact way he describes the incidents, save the day. The ending, sounding a lot like the Beatles' "Don't Let Me Down," has Rod pleading over and over for his friend to stay and not go away. It's a devastating song--an outcast from his family finds a new "family" in New York, where becomes the toast of the city, only to be killed on the streets with a switchblade. But it's Stewart quoting his friend at the end of Part 1 that makes me misty-eyed every time: "He said, 'Never wait or hesitate/Get in kid, before it's too late/You may never get another chance/'Cause youth's a mask but it don't last/Live it long and live it fast'/Georgie was a friend of mine."

72. "Follow Your Arrow" by Kacey Musgraves [2013]

You thought country songs only dealt with drinking beer or two-timing men, didn't you? Thanks to country artist Kacey Musgraves' "Follow Your Arrow," that stereotype was thrown out of the pick-up truck window. Worries abounded that her country audience would not accept what could be construed as country music's first gay anthem, especially with lyrics like this: "Make lots of noise (hey)/And kiss lots of boys (yeah)/Or kiss lots of girls/If that's something you're into...". She needn't have worried; the Nashville audience wholeheartedly embraced the song. "More than anything," Musgraves told The Boot, "even if they don't agree with the girls kissing girls thing or even the drug reference, I would hope that they would agree that no matter what, we all should be able to love who we want to love and live how we want to live." It would eventually win the CMA for Song of the Year award, and Rolling Stone magazine would rank it as the 39th greatest country song of all time!

71. "At Seventeen" by Janis Ian [1975]

70. "Emmie" by Laura Nyro [1968]

Janis Ian's heartfelt ode to the loneliness of teenage-hood, "At Seventeen," is so stark, so emotionally naked, that it's sometimes hard to listen to. Even the world's most popular jock or "hometown queen" will feel what it's like to be "those whose names were never called/When choosing sides for basketball." But it's not a depressing song; the "ugly ducklings" would grow up and become better people, more empathetic. Ian would come out of the closet. Laura Nyro, who was bisexual, wrote and sang "Emmie," causing Entertainment Weekly to dub it "pop's first lesbian love song." Nyro's family disagrees that the song is "lesbian themed" and considers it more of an exploration of a general "eternal female." Either way, it's one of the most beautiful songs on this list.

69. "Relax" by Frankie Goes to Hollywood [1984]

68. "This Charming Man" by the Smiths [1984]

67. "A Little Respect" by Erasure [1988]

The 1980's were such a great time for music, especially with the second British Invasion all over the radio. Frankie Goes to Hollywood's "Relax" seethes, a frantic tollercpaster in the era of AIDS, one of the more sexually suggestive songs with its orgasmic thumping humping beat and those overt, leave-nothing-to-the-imagination lyrics that make it sound like a satire of a tries-too-hard porn film: "Got to hit me (hit me)/Hit me (hit me)/Hit me with those laser beams/(Ow, ow, ow)/Laser beam me/Ah, ah, ah/Relax/Don't do it/Relax/When you want to come/Come/Ahhhhh/Whoo!Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah/I'm coming/I'm coming, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!" The Smiths' "This Charming Man" spotlights the dour vocals of the one and only Morrisey. And Andy Bell of Erasure told Spin magazine where the inspiration of "A Little Respect" came from: "When I was a little girl, I asked my mummy, 'Can I be gay when I grow up?' She replied, 'Yes, if you show a little respect.'"

66. "Watercolor Roses" by Ness Nite [2018]

This is an underrated glory, a trance-like fever dream in what Ness Nite terms "braless music" due to their no rules approach. "Watercolor Roses" shows how much talent this performer, still in their early twenties, has; it creates its own mood, its own hypnotic joys: "She look like watercolor roses on her Instagram posin'/Snap trappin', rack stackin', she said baby hold/My degree, don't you speak, don't be talkin' down on me/All this wig snatching, snap trappin', it's a life..."

65. "Brave" by Sara Bareilles [2013]

A power pop civil rights anthem, "Brave" was inspired by a friend of Bareilles who was struggling with coming out: "Don't run, stop holding your tongue/Maybe there's a way out of the cage where you live/Maybe one of these days you can let the light in/Show me how big your brave is...". Bareilles said, "There are so much honor and integrity and beauty in being able to be who you are." And her fans roared with approval.

64. "Altar Boy and the Thief" by Joan Baez [1977]

Don't judge a record by its cover. Blowin' Away by Joan Baez has one of the worst covers in the history of music--with the folk singer in full blown pilot gear, happily waving. It's too goofy for Baez; it looks like it's a record for a truly unfunny comedian. It's an odd choice, a certain nominee for the Album Art Hall of Shame, but with it containing beautiful songs like the classic "Altar Boy and the Thief," a gift to her many gay fans, who cares?

63. "C7osure (You Like)" by Lil Nas X [2019]

By the age of 20, Nas X seemed to take over the world. His "Old Town Road" hit #1 longer than any other song, and he was named by both Time and Forbes magazines as one of the most influential young people. But even more important, he became the first and only openly gay artist to win the Country Music Association Award. Country Music documentarian Ken Burns said: "Well, to me, Lil Nas X is my mic drop moment. We spend eight episodes and sixteen and a half hours [in the documentary] talking about the fact that country music has never been one thing. ... And there's a huge African American influence, and it permeates throughout the whole story. ... And here we are in a new modern age that we're not touching, with all these classic, binary arguments about Billboard not listing ['Old Town Road'] on the country chart, and it turns out to be not just the No. 1 country hit but the No. 1 single, period, and it's by a black gay rapper!" As Nas X tweeted during the last day of Pride Month last year, the lyrics of "C7osure" deal with his LGBTQ status: "Ain't no more actin', man that forecast say I should just let me grow/No more red light for me, baby, only green, I gotta go/Pack my past up in the back, oh, let my future take a hold/This is what I gotta do, can't be regretting when I'm old..."

62. "Forrest Gump" by Frank Ocean [2012]

Early listeners wondered why Ocean kept using the word "boy" for the object of his desire in the song "Forrest Gump," from the album Channel Orange. This caused Ocean to blog a letter describing the unrequited feelings he had for a man, his first true love, when he was nineteen years old: "Forrest green, Forrest blues/I'm remembering you/If this is love, I know it's true/I won't forget you."

61. "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me" by Culture Club [1982]

60. "Stay With Me" by Sam Smith [2014]

Boy George penned "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me" about his heated off again/on again relationship with Culture Club drummer, Jon Moss; at first George didn't want the single (an eventual #2 blockbuster) released because it stung too deeply and too painfully every time he heard it. And Sam Smith sings "Stay with Me," to the tune of "I Won't Back Down" by Tom Petty, about a one night stand that he wants to continue into a relationship: "This ain't love, it's clear to see, but darling, stay with me." But the man didn't stay, leaving Smith all alone and vulnerable. When Smith later won the Grammy for Record of the Year, he said, "Just a quick one: I want to thank the man who this record is about who I fell in love with last year. Thank you so much for breaking my heart because you got me four Grammys."

59. "I Am Her" by Shea Diamond [2018]

Black trans artist Shae Diamond spent a decade in prison before transitioning. According to her website, "While incarcerated, I spent time talking to other like-minded women of trans experience about their stories. It was because of these women and the community I was a part of in prison where I really found my voice. I was locked up but my mind was free." Her "I Am Her" has become a trans power anthem: "There's an outcast in everybody's life and I am her (I am her)/There's a shadow in everybody's front door and I am her (I am her)/There's a dark cloud in everybody's sunlight and I am her (I am her)/Oh you know I am her..."

58. "Garden Shed" by Tyler, the Creator (featuring Estelle) [2017]

Did Tyler, the Creator come out of the closet (or in this case "the garden shed") with this beautiful song? Not officially, but it sure can be interpreted that way, as he seems to be struggling with his sexuality since childhood: "Truth is, since a youth kid, thought it was a phase/Thought it'd be like the Frank; poof, gone/But, it's still goin' on..."

57. "American Boyfriend" by Kevin Abstract [2016]

56. "Tuesday" by iLoveMakonnen (featuring Drake) [2014]

"Burn bridges, American Boyfriend," Kevin Abstract, who came out in 2016, sings in "American Boyfriend." "No one knows, no one calls home/American Boyfriend/I found my way/You're my American boy." A year after Abstract came out, "Tuesday" creator Makonnen came out via Twitter: "As a fashion icon, I can't tell u about everybody else's closet, I can only tell u about mine, and it's time I've come out. And since y'all love breaking news, here's some old news to break, I'm gay. And now I've told u about my life, maybe u can go [live] yours."

55. "King for a Day" by Green Day [1997]

Originally influenced by a football player donning panty hose, and his closed-minded fans who dubbed him as a "G.I. Joe in panty hose." Lead singer Billie Armstrong, who has come out as bisexual, found this the perfect story to address homophobia and the knee-jerk closed mindedness of people: "My daddy threw me in therapy/He thinks I'm not a real man/Who put the drag in drag queen/Don't know it until you've tried it!"

54. "Sweet Transvestite" by Tim Curry [1975]

53. "Wig in a Box" by John Cameron Mitchell [1998]

52. "Raise You Up/Just Be" by Billy Porter & the Cast of Kinky Boots [2013]

51. "Ring of Keys" by Sydney Lucas & Beth Malone [2014]

50. "Take Me or Leave Me" by Idina Menzel & Fredi Walker [1996]

Broadway, Off-Broadway and the movies have produced some of the most indelible LGBTQ anthems. In film version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Tim Curry steals the screen and gives an award-worthy performance as Dr. Frank N Furter; his version of "Sweet Transvestite" still cannot be beat. John Cameron Mitchell's Hedwig and the Angry Inch brought us one of the catchiest showtunes of all time--"Wig in a Box." Is there a song more adrenaline-pumping and likable than the gotta-dance "Raise You Up/Just Be" from Kinky Boots? "Ring of Keys" from Fun Home has become a lesbian anthem, a young girl's sexual awakening; it has also become a favorite of Jr. Thespian competitions. And "Take Me or Leave Me" from Rent has become one of the great break-up songs, this one between two polar opposite women: flirty Maureen and controlling Joanne. The number is a favorite of teenage girls and karaoke lovers who get to flex both their acting and musical chops whenever performing it.

49. "Don't Leave Me This Way" by the Communards (featuring Sarah Jane Morris) [1986]

48. "Tainted Love/Where Did Our Love Go" by Soft Cell [1982]

Two of the great gay dance songs from 1980's UK also deal with love-gone-badly. The Communards take on the Thelma Houston/Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes classic is a call to arms: frantic, explosive, a desperate plea for survival if he--whoever he is--does not stay. And "Tainted Love," a cover of Gloria Jones' 1964 song, followed by a sultry cover of the Supremes "Where Did Our Love Go," has the coolest beat and bass line on this list, which is saying something indeed.

47. "Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover" by Sophie B. Hawkins [1992]

46. "Constant Craving" by k.d. lang [1992]

45. "Come to My Window" by Melissa Etheridge [1993]

There was a renaissance of lesbian singles in the 1990's, and these three songs led the way. "Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover" is an impeccably produced ode to another woman, although mainstream listeners did not pick up on that right away. Hawkins, who has described her sexual orientation as "omnisexual," had created perhaps the first Top-40 hit that dealt openly with sapphic love. k.d.lang came out the same year her "Constant Craving" became ubiquitous on the radio. She and the openly gay Melissa Etheridge (whose iconic "Come to My Window" would capture the charts a year later) performed at the first ever inaugural ball that honored gays and lesbians in 1993, dubbed "The Triangle Ball."

44. "Think' Bout You" by Frank Ocean [2012]

Mellow, minimalist, honeyed, with vocals as smooth as a marble tabletop. The intimate song, an "I'm sorry" track to an unnamed lover, was originally written for a female singer (Bridget Kelly), which makes it all the more powerful in Ocean's hands and more sexually ambiguous.

43. "Same Love" by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis [2012]

42. "She Keeps Me Warm" by Mary Lambert [2014]

Mary Lambert makes her mark here. "Same Love," featuring Lambert on vocals, actually put a Michigan performing arts teacher in hot water when she was suspended by her principal for allowing one of her middle school students to play "Same Love" in the classroom. It was ahead of its time. Macklemore (real name: Ben Haggerty), who is straight, wrote this in honor of the gay men he knew; its popularity would open the door for a hip-hop culture that would become more accepting of homosexuality. Haggerty said: "I don't think a song like 'Same Love' would have been received the same way even five years ago. We as a society and a culture have proven throughout time that we evolve, that we become slowly more compassionate and tolerating and accepting..." Openly gay Lambert wrote the exquisite "She Keeps Me Warm" about her growing up lesbian in a highly religious home: "I'm not crying on Sundays/Love is patient, love is kind..."

41. "Raining Glitter" by Kylie Minogue [2018]

Dance and disco mix with country for a post-glam anthem, performed by gay icon Minogue at the 2018 New York City Pride celebration. And the words are certainly a salute to her many gay fans, 50+ years after Stonewall: "Raining glitter down on us tonight/No more hiding in the shadows..."

40. "Americans" by Janelle Monae [2018]

On June 15th of this year, the Supreme Court handed the LGBTQ community a major victory with their ruling that federal law protects gay workers from discrimination. But not all gay people felt completely satisfied, pointing out that the ruling, good as it was, still didn't cover such important issues as housing and adoption. The good fight obviously continues. Janelle Monae, who openly identifies as bisexual and pansexual, ended her brilliant Dirty Computer album with "Americans," an imploration to uplift blacks, women and gay people: "Until women can get equal pay for equal work/This is not my America/Until same gender loving people can be who they are/This is not my America/Until black people can come home from a police stop/Without being shot in the head/This is not my America."

39. "We Exist" by Arcade Fire [2013]

The anthem of acceptance and empowerment by the Canadian indie group is about a son coming out to his straight dad: "Daddy it's true/I'm different from you/But tell me why they treat me like this?/If you turned away/What would I say?/Not the first betrayed by a kiss." Don't miss the video featuring Andrew Garfield as a trans woman. According to AF's Win Butler, "For a gay kid in Jamaica to see the actor who played Spider-Man in that role is pretty damn powerful, in my opinion."

38. "I Feel Love" by Donna Summer [1977]

37. "Vogue" by Madonna [1990]

36. "Losing My Mind" by Liza Minnelli [1991]

35. "Believe" by Cher [1998]

34. "The Man That Got Away" by Judy Garland [1954]

No list of LGBTQ songs would be complete without classics from these icons, some of the world's most famous divas: Donna Summer, Madonna, Liza Minnelli, Cher, Barbra Streisand and Judy Garland. When musician and producer Brian Eno first heard disco queen Donna Summer's hypnotic dance classic, "I Feel Love," he bubbled with enthusiasm, and told David Bowie a very accurate prediction: ""I have heard the sound of the future." Even though Summer would have a checkered past with the gay community due to her fervent religious beliefs, her music, especially an influential hit like this, has to be included. Madonna's #1 hit, "Vogue," took the underground voguing dance craze of the "Harlem Ball" gay scene (as showcased in the 1991 documentary, Paris Is Burning) and made it mainstream. Liza Minnelli was given the Pet Shop Boys treatment with her rendition of "Losing My Mind," from Stephen Sondheim's Follies. Perhaps the most beloved icon of the gay community, Cher, at age 52, became the oldest woman to have a #1 hit on the Billboard Hot-100 with "Believe." And Judy Garland's essential, torchy "The Man That Got Away"--from A Star Is Born--would certainly be her signature song had she never dreamt of a land somewhere over the rainbow.

33. "Elton's Song" by Elton John [1981]

Even though he was not completely, officially out of the closet yet, Elton John told Rolling Stone magazine, "[This song] was the first gay song that I actually recorded as a homosexual song." Written with Tom Robinson, the latter whose "Glad to be Gay" would become a British gay anthem (see further down the list), "Elton's Song" is a personal ode, stark with just a piano and some synthesized strings, and is obviously a boy-meets-boy love song.

32. "John, I'm Only Dancing" by David Bowie [1972]

In 1972, during the height of Ziggy Stardust-mania, Bowie made headlines when he outed himself as "bisexual" in Melody Maker magazine. "John, I'm Only Dancing" meaning seems rather obvious: The singer is reassuring his male lover that he's just dancing with a girl and not interested in her romantically. But rumor has it that it's also Bowie's answer to John Lennon, who made a snide comment about Bowie's cross-dressing.

31. "Il Adore" by Boy George [1995]

30. "Being Boring" by the Pet Shop Boys [1990]

The New York Times headline on July 3, 1981 was alarming: "Rare Cancer Seen in 41 Homosexuals" Though it was not named yet, AIDS had reared its hideous head and would eventually ravage the gay community throughout the 1980's and 1990's. It was a scary time to be alive, to witness such horrifying loss. These two songs deal with the devastation caused by AIDS. Boy George's "Il Adore" is heartbreaking in its tear-inducing starkness: "Laughing screaming tumbling queen/Like the most amazing light show you've ever seen/Whirling swirling never blue/How could you go and die, what a lonely thing to do." The Pet Shop Boys' "Being Boring" also deals with the loss of a loved one from AIDS. Pet Shop Boy Neil Tennant told The South Bank Show about inspiration for the song: "A very good friend of mine from that era, my best friend really, had died of AIDS. So it was a kind of elegy for him...it became a really elegiac song." "Being Boring" is one of the loveliest numbers on this list, a time capsule to an age of loss, a time period the LGBTQ community must never forget: "All the people I was kissing/Some are here and some are missing/In the 1990's/I never dreamt that I would get to be/the creature that I always meant to be/but I thought in spite of dreams/you'd be sitting somewhere here with me..."

29. "Supermodel (You Better Work)" by RuPaul [1992]

28. "Everybody's Free (To Feel Good)" by Rozalla [1991]

27. "Carry On" by Martha Wash [1992]

26. "Finally" by CeCe Peniston [1991]

Four of the great 1990's dance anthems and gay club staples. Rupaul's "Supermodel" would quickly become the drag queen anthem; even Nirvana's Kurt Cobain called it one of his favorite songs of 1993. "Everybody's Free (To Feel Good)" proved so popular that it was later sampled in such diverse songs as "Everybody's Free to Wear Sunscreen" and "Powerless in the Face of Death." "Carry On" (not to be confused with the Crosby, Stills and Nash song) was used in the fifth episode of RuPaul's Drag Race, where Martha Wash, that great belter for the Weather Girls and C+C Music Factory, was a judge. And CeCe Peniston's celebratory "Finally" would be performed to outrageously hilarious effect by the drag queens in Priscilla Queen of the Desert.

25. "Go West" by the Pet Shop Boys [1993]

It originated in the 1800's as a rallying cry by John Babsone Lane Soule in the Indiana Express: "Go west, young man!" The Village People originally used it in the 1970's as a rallying cry of a different sort. Years later, the Pet Shop Boys added their synth-pop sound, a male voice choir and even a musical allusion to "Canon in N*E*R*D Major" at the start to make it a supremely fun gay anthem. They first performed it for an AIDS charity event at the Hacienda in Manchester, and "Go West" has continued to be a call to arms ever since: "There where the air is free/We'll be what we want to be/Now if we make a stand/we'll find our promised land!"

24. "Lola" by the Kinks [1970]

23. "Walk on the Wild Side" by Lou Reed [1972]

Is it possible that both of these songs were written about the same person, infamous transgendered actress Candy Darling? There's some doubt that "Lola" is. Ray Davies of the Kinks said: "The song came out of an experience in a club in Paris. I was dancing with this beautiful blonde, then we went out into the daylight and I saw her stubble...So I drew on that but colored it in, made it more interesting lyrically." But Ray Davies allegedly also "dated" Candy Darling for a short time, so who knows? As for Lou Reed's most famous song, the ultra cool "Walk on the Wild Side," Candy Darling is certainly mentioned, along with other gender-bending Andy Warhol superstars like Holly Woodlawn and Jackie Curtis. But Candy gets the best line, perhaps the only time "giving head" was sung in a Top-40 hit nearly 50 years ago: "Candy came from out on the island/In the backroom she was everybody's darling/But she never lost her head/Even when she was giving head..."

22. "Freedom '90" by George Michael [1990]

Although George Michael would officially come out in 1998, perceptive audiences already knew by listening to the lyrics of this song eight years earlier: I think there's something you should know/I think it's time I told you so/There's something deep inside of me/There's someone else I've got to be...All we have to do now/Is take these lies and make them true somehow..." And, eight years later, he did.

21. "Smalltown Boy" by Bronski Beat [1984]

Although this is a dance song, there's something haunting about it. It makes you want to get on the dance floor the moment that beat starts, and yet, it's also a song about gay shame and isolation in a backwoods community. Lead singer Jimmy Somerville says it's autobiographical, about growing up in provincial Scotland. Although there's alienation and abuse involved--a gay teen having to leave home to find himself--there's also so much anger and defiance along with the sadness, of holding the bullies' taunts inside and never giving them the satisfaction of letting them know how deep it hurts: "And as hard as they would try they'd hurt to make you cry/But you never cried to them, just to your soul/No, you never cried to them, just to your soul/Run away, turn away, run away, turn away, run away...". But he escapes his small town, running away to the big city, where hopefully he will find his pride, his dignity, his strength...and his people.

20. "I Kissed a Girl" by Jill Sobule [1995]

19. "Closer to Fine" by the Indigo Girls [1989]

Two lesbian anthems, with the shallow fun of Sobule's "I Kissed a Girl" followed by the serious depth of turning away from the ordinary, an ode to nonconformity and being true to who you are, in the Indigo Girls' decade-defining "Closer to Fine."

18. "It's Raining Men" by the Weather Girls [1982]

Donna Summer said "No!" when songwriters Paul Jabara and Paul Shaffer first offered her "It's Raining Men." According to Jabara, she hated the song on religious grounds and sent him a Bible the next day. But who would record it? Diana Ross, Cher and Barbra Streisand also passed on it. Which left Two Tons o' Fun--Martha Wash and Izora Armstead--who would change their name to the Weather Girls. The song instantly became iconic. On January 19, 2014, a UK Independent Party politician announced that the recent floods and bad weather plaguing the UK happened due to "divine retribution" for England allowing gay marriage. So, a campaign on Facebook was launched to get the Weather Girls' "It' Raining Men" to flood the radio airwaves and climb the charts in response to the demagoguery/ idiocy. "It's Raining Men" would become divine in and of itself by reaching #21 on the very first day of its re-release. "Hallelujah!"

17. "A Deeper Love" by Aretha Franklin [1994]

Is there no greater song for Gay Pride Month? Aretha + the impossible-not-to dance-to music + those empowering lyrics ("Pride! A deeper love! Pride! A deeper love!") = #17 on our list.

16. "Dancing Queen" by Abba [1977]

How can you not include this Abba anthem, their only American #1 hit and a gay favorite (even covered by the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus in 1997)? Is the dancing queen a girl...or a drag queen? Chris Evans of BBC Radio quoted Queen Elizabeth II, who said that whenever "Dancing Queen" was played at Windsor Castle, "I always try to dance when this song comes on because I am the Queen and I like to dance."

15. "(You Make Me Feel) Mighty Real" by Sylvester [1978]

14. "Got to Be Real" by Cheryl Lynn [1978]

13. "Y.M.C.A." by the Village People [1978]

12. "Glad to Be Gay" by the Tom Robinson Band [1978]

Four of the greatest gay anthems were released in the same year; proof that 1978 was a key 365 days in the development of gay rights. The year would be historic even without these songs, with the good news of the creation of the rainbow flag and the anti-gay Briggs Initiative failure to pass in California and the tragedy of the killing of San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk. Yes, the biopic on Milk's life, aptly titled Milk starring Sean Penn is incredible, but even better is the 1980's documentary The Times of Harvey Milk. Sylvester's great "(You Make Me Feel) Mighty Real" is featured in the documentary as well as Milk, 54, The Normal Heart, and most bizarrely, the episode of Friends where Danny DeVito plays a stripper. Critic Robert Christgau called Sylvester's masterpiece "one of those surges of sustained, stylized energy that is disco's great gift to pop music." Cheryl Lynn's euphoric "Got to Be Real" would become a drag anthem, utilized in the brilliant documentary Paris Is Burning. Everybody knows "Y.M.C.A.," which would start in the gay community and then hijacked by straight society; who, gay or straight, doesn't spell the name of the song with their arms whenever it's playing? And Tom Robinson's fist-in-the-air power song, "Glad to Be Gay," was way ahead of its time and would become Britain's gay national anthem. Homosexual acts may have been legalized in England in 1967, but it was still hard to be gay a decade later: "I had a friend who was gentle and short," Robinson sings. "He was lonely one evening and went for a walk/Queer-bashers caught him and kicked in his teeth/He was only hospitalized for a week." Yes, so much has changed regarding the world's outlook on gay rights since these songs were hits in 1978...but how much?

11. "Somewhere" by Barbra Streisand [1985]

"Somewhere" from West Side Story may have been written by two gay men--Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim--but it was not originally intended as the gay anthem it would emerge as. It fit perfectly into the storyline of Tony and Maria, both wanting to find a place to escape. It's been covered by numerous artists, as diverse as Aretha Franklin, the Bee Gees, PJ Proby, Bobby Darin, the Supremes and the Pet Shop Boys. But with time, the song has taken on new meaning, and with the version by goddess of the gay community, Barbra Streisand, has risen as one of the top gay anthems, a song of hope and the promise for a better tomorrow.

10. "This Is Me" by Keala Settle & The Greatest Showman Ensemble [2017]

"I am brave, I am bruised/I am who I'm meant to be, this is me/Look out 'cause here I come/And I'm marching on to the beat I drum/I'm not scared to be seen/I make no apologies, this is me!" This standout number from The Greatest Showman scores quite high in our 101. At the LoveLoud musical festival for LGBTQ youths, a trans singer brought down the house (and caused many tears) with a stirring rendition of it. American Idol's first drag performer, Ada Vox, chose this song as a favorite to perform, and It's now a key song to many Pride parades. And with those lyrics about making "no apologies," this has to be in the Top 10.

9. "We Are Family" by Sister Sledge [1979]

"Are you family?" This Sister Sledge classic is the only song on the list to be both a theme song to the Pittsburgh Pirates and gay anthem that joyous revelers dance to on Gay Pride floats.

8. "Beautiful" by Christina Aguilera [2002]

"I am beautiful/No matter what they say/Words can't bring me down." Inner beauty and self-empowerment make this haunting ballad, gorgeously sung by Ms. Aguilera, a perfect LGBTQ anthem. Jonas Akerlund's video, featuring two men kissing and a transgender woman putting on make-up and a wig, was awarded a GLAAD Media Award for its positive portrayal of gays and transgender individuals. But the song is universal in its meaning (Ms. Aguilera says that she wrote it for anyone who has "been discriminated against or unaccepted, unappreciated or disrespected just because of who you are"). Nine years after the song's release, Stonewall, a UK LGBT rights organization, chose "Beautiful" as the most empowering song of the 2000's for the gay community.

7. "True Colors" by Cyndi Lauper [1986]

Cyndi wrote this, one of the great songs about friendship, in honor of her friend, Gregory Natal, who had died of AIDS. And what did Cyndi call her non-profit to help end LGBTQ youth homelessness and to help "inspire and engage everyone, especially straight people, to become active participants in the advancement of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality"? The True Colors Fund.

6. "I Want to Break Free" by Queen [1984]

Freddie Mercury of Queen has become quite a favorite of a new generation, thanks to the movie Bohemian Rhapsody (a great award-winning central performance but only a so-so film). The video of the song, with members of Queen in drag in a Coronation Street spoof, confused MTV so much that they banned it from their channel, and the single didn't take off here. Knowing Mercury's sexual orientation of late brings new focus onto the song and its lyrics: "I don't want to live alone, hey/God knows, got to make it on my own/So baby can't you see/I've got to break free..."

5. "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor [1979]

Perhaps disco's greatest song, a post-Stonewall, pre-AIDS snapshot to empowerment, embraced by the gay community. And whether gay or straight, you sing along with it whenever it plays on the radio, wagging a defiant finger in the air, don't you?

4. "I'm Coming Out" by Diana Ross [1980]

A call to arms care of Diana Ross, reminding us of Glinda's plea in The Wizard of Oz: "Come out, come out, wherever you are." And Harvey Milk's Gay Freedom Day speech on June 25th, 1978: "Gay brothers and sisters,...You must come out. Come out... to your parents... I know that it is hard and will hurt them but think about how they will hurt you in the voting booth! Come out to your relatives... come out to your friends... if indeed they are your friends. Come out to your neighbors... to your fellow workers... to the people who work where you eat and shop... come out only to the people you know, and who know you. Not to anyone else. But once and for all, break down the myths, destroy the lies and distortions. For your sake. For their sake..."

3. "Born This Way" by Lady Gaga [2011]

"Don't hide yourself in regret/Just love yourself and you're set/I'm on the right track, baby/I was born this way...". Any one of the top five songs on this list could be #1, including this Lady Gaga anthem from nine years ago. At one point in the song, she sings, "Don't be a drag, just be a queen," an obvious salute to her many gay fans.

2. "Over the Rainbow" by Judy Garland [1939]

"Somewhere over the rainbow, blue birds fly/Birds fly over the rainbow/Oh why, oh why can't I?" Yes, Gilbert Baker created the rainbow flag as a symbol of the gay community in 1978; was this song one of his inspirations? We also know that the story of Dorothy Gale and her adventures in Oz in The Wizard of Oz connected with the gay community so much that they referred to themselves as "Friends of Dorothy." Dorothy became dear friends with individuals much different than she was-a Scarecrow, a Tin Man, and a nelly Lion; their arm in arm march down the Yellow Brick Road was like the first Gay Pride parade. And she was played by the gay icon of icons, Judy Garland. In some ways, Garland is also tied directly to the Gay Pride anniversaries. Her death and funeral in 1969 put many of the Stonewall Inn's customers in a sad and foul mood that June 28th evening, an anger that life had done this and deprived them of their idol, an anger that would smolder and then explode in rioting after one too many police raids. Garland' death laid the groundwork; history was made.

1. " I Am What I Am" by Gloria Gaynor [1983]

We end here, with the finest of all gay anthems, a disco version of a showtune written by a gay man and sung by a black woman. Jerry Herman wrote "I Am What I Am" as drag queen Albin's declaration of self worth and pride at the end of Act 1 in La Cage Aux Folles. But disco diva Gloria Gaynor turned it into a hit, a coming out plea. We culminate our journey with this powerful message of hope, of understanding, of empathy, of strength, of defiance, of individuality, of courage, of love, and, of course, of pride: "It's one life and there's no return and no deposit/One life so it's time to open up your closet/Life's not worth a damn till you can shout out/I am what I am!"


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From This Author Peter Nason