1. Christine and the Queens
Heloise Letissier, or Christine and the Queens as you might know her, is taking over the French pop scene. Openly pansexual, Letissier shamelessly writes, sings, produces, and choreographs in both French and English about the lovers who have ever done her wrong over upbeat 80s influenced tempos.
Quote:“For men, with success comes power, admiration, and respect. But when you’re a woman and you succeed, people either question your authorship immediately, or you get accused of being bossy, b****y, or capricious” (The New York Times).
Favorite Song: Doesn’t Matter
2. Ivy Sole
Reigning from Charlotte, North Carolina, Ivy Sole self identifies as queer but doesn’t want it to be the “thesis” of her music. Instead, she’d rather her sexuality be just a “detail” of her career as a whole. Sole said she’s been aware of her queer identity since middle school but grew up going to church three times a week. Beginning with spoken word poetry, Sole continues to write all of her own music that she began releasing in college when she attended the University of Pennsylvania.
Quote:“I think my mental health often makes me feel despair even when there is light and love around me, but being able to see through the fog of depression and anxiety is something so invaluable to me” (NPR).
Favorite Song: Rollercoaster
Signed to Atlantic Records, Kehlani Parrish, has made it clear that she does not care about what others think of her lifestyle. African American, Native American, Filipino, Mexican, and Spanish, Parrish not only pays homage to her multiple races but to her pansexuality, mental health, and hometown of Oakland, California. Parrish just recently had a baby with her friend, Javie Young, which sparked controversy with people who criticized her for not being “gay enough”.
Quote: “My art mimics my life, so you know I have a girlfriend, and it’s only right that that’s what I make music about and that I’m able to put that out confidently” (MTV).
Favorite song: Honey
Queen Sateen and Exquisite met on OkCupid looking for strictly professional additions to their music. However, after some time they later would become two married disco drag queens that are reinventing music in Brooklyn, New York. Identifying themselves as one of the only female and straight male drag queens, they experimented with drag after a winter studying Rupaul and other iconic queens. Many are confused of the married couple’s lives and claim that they only married each other to satisfy Exquisite’s green card. Sateen claim that they are entertained by this confusion.
Quote:“I hope that one day, gender and sexuality will be completely fluid. I hope to see a transgender woman of colour as our President! I hope racists and bigots will become extinct, or at least move to an island and be brutes together” (i-D Vice).
Favorite Song: Take My Picture
Washington D.C. native and American University alumna, Kelela is the queer R&B singer that you need to add to your playlist…like right now. She is a second-generation Ethiopian American who grew up in Maryland and speaks of her identity often through her music. After working extensively on mixtapes, she finally quit her telemarketing career to fully pursue music. This career-switch decision seems to be working out.
Quote: “Living in between being queer, being second generation, being a person of colour and a woman — all of these things cross and overlap and intersect in some tricky-ass ways. I think I’ve always wanted to point to those intersections so that anyone who may be having an alienating or othering experience can feel like we’re in the same boat” (The LGBT Update).
Favorite Song: Onanon
6. Rina Sawayama
Rina Sawayama is not only dismantling traditional Asian beauty expectations through her music, but also through her modeling career as well. Sawayama is signed to Elite Model Management and Anti Agency. She’s been featured in campaigns including Versace, Missguided, and MAC. She also has a degree in politics from Cambridge University. Sawayama was born in Niigata, Japan but grew up in London which she says has complicated her identity over time. Sawayama has been incredibly transparent with her bisexuality and anxiety throughout her art.
Quote:“The truth for me is that it’s so great I’m able to identify as queer, but realistically, there’s still a lot of shame—from parents or from past experiences” (Vice).
Favorite Song: Flicker
7. Kim Petras
Kim Petras was one of the youngest to ever undergo gender-affirmation surgery when she was only sixteen but doesn’t want this to be the only thing known about her. Petras is trans but she also wants the world to know that she is just like everyone else. She has remained apolitical on many issues and promotes herself as carefree like her inspiration, Katy Perry.
Quote: “I just hate the idea of using my identity as a tool. It made me the person I am and that’s a big part of me, but I think music is about your feelings and your fantasies and it goes deeper than your gender or your sexuality” (Huffpost).
Favorite Song: Tell Me It’s a Nightmare
8. Princess Nokia
Destiny Nicole Frasqueri, or Princess Nokia, is a self-proclaimed loner. She wears her Puerto Rican, sexual fluidity, and Bronx hometown proudly on her sleeve. Frasqueri notes that she oftentimes is outspoken and even says she believes she “overshares” in interviews. Although her energy is playful oftentimes, Frasqueri has also been vocal about losing her mother to AIDS when she was ten years old. She grew up in foster care where her foster mother was physically and emotionally abusive to her over the course of her life. Without those experiences, she says, she would not be the same Princess Nokia that we all know and love.
Quote: “When I was young, all I wanted was to have a show where young girls could mosh together and hold hands and take off their bras and just be so liberated on some real punk-rock s**t. I want girls to feel free; I want them to feel like they’re empowered, liberated feminists” (NME).
Favorite Song: Young Girls
9. Tiffany Gouché
Reigning form Inglewood, California in a strict Christian household, Tiffany Gouché grew up listening and singing Gospel music. Her unique sound of chillhop derived beats serves as the mixture of genres that revitalizes the image of what women in R&B are to sound like. She’s worked with artists such as Ty Dolla Sign, Solange, Anderson Paak, Jill Scott, Lauryn Hill, Missy Elliot, Pussycat Dolls, etc. but has decidedly stayed under the radar.
Quote:“I was the black sheep of the family, so I had to accept my identity as well, and how I express myself. I believe you can’t be your vulnerable self unless you truly understand who you are as a person. Just a full acceptance of who I am as a person and my sound” (Billboard).
Favorite Song: Fantasy
10. Tommy Genesis
Genesis Yasmine Mohanraj, or Tommy Genesis, considers herself a “fetish rapper”. Most of her songs focus on sexuality but Mohanraj has made it clear that society wouldn’t be so focused on this aspect of herself if she were male. She openly sings of both men and women, which many have said make the Tamil and Swedish singer a target for the male gaze. She was recruited by Calvin Klein and has received modeling recognition from British model, Alexa Chung, and Italian blogger, Chiara Ferragni.
Quote: “I definitely went in and out of being comfortable with who I was as a person. I’m one of those kids who had phases. I wouldn’t even really say I’m comfortable with who I am now. I think it’s ok in admitting that you’re still growing” (Clash Music).
Favorite Song: Bad Boy