Since the dawn of time (approximately), the LGBT community has latched on to certain artists and songs, using their images or lyrics as sources of inspiration and empowerment.
Songs such as Diana Ross’ “I’m Coming Out,” and Cher’s “Believe” achieved tremendous levels of success both within and outside of the queer community. The strong, independent divas also found themselves with a strong, loyal fan base in the community.
That tradition continues today, with gay-friendly artists such as Madonna, Britney Spears and Katy Perry. Songs like Perry’s “Firework” or Pink’s “Raise Your Glass” (both of which came out around that time when a bunch of Top-40 female artists randomly decided to try their hand at creating the next gay anthem – not that we’re complaining) work to inspire a whole new generation of gays.
Here, we countdown the best of the more recent gay anthems by today’s pop divas.
10: Selena Gomez & the Scene – Who Says
This one is for our baby gays. While a lot of us look up to artists like Britney or Rihanna, younger stars like Selena and Demi Lovato are carving out their own niche among the younger generation of LGBT folk (and okay, we admit, us, too).
While Selena’s bigger hits, like the luscious “Love You Like a Love Song” or her explosive breakout hit, “Naturally,” are closer to the dance hits of most popular gay anthems, this song, from her 2011 release, When the Sun Goes Down, is her most empowering.
With lyrics like, “When it comes to me, I wouldn’t want to be anybody else” and “You’ve got every right to a beautiful life,” this song can inspire anybody who’s feeling down.
9: Natasha Bedingfield – Strip Me
We consider Natasha Bedingfield to be the queen of feel-good pop songs. With a catalog full of epic empowerment pop like her biggest hit, “Unwritten,” and the ode-to-singledom, appropriately titled “Single,” you can’t help but smile when you shuffle through her songs on your iPod.
This midtempo masterpiece, released in 2010, takes the cake as her most inspiring song for the gay community. With a theme of rejecting extravagant, unnecessary things (“If you strip it all away / I’ll be alright”), lyrics like “It’s what you do and say that makes you who you are,” and “I’m only one voice in a million but you ain’t taking that from me,” reinforce the idea of standing up for what you believe in.
8: Jessie J – Stand Up
Another artist known for feel-good songs, like her breakout hit “Price Tag,” Jessie J’s 2011 debut album is so full of inspirational songs (“Rainbow” or the title track, “Who You Are,” anyone?), it was hard to narrow it down. However the funky, feel good, “Stand Up,” is one of the most obvious gay anthems on the disc.
With a hook that consists of the lyrics, “So stand up for the love,” it’s positive message is hard to ignore. Check out the video for her equally uplifting breakout hit, “Price Tag,” below.
7: Lady Gaga – Marry the Night
Gaga was hailed as a gay icon since her debut in 2008, but with her 2011 release, Born This Way, she worked hard to try to earn the title of Queen of the Gays.
While the title track made history for being the first number one song to have the word “transgender” in the lyrics and is a gay anthem by nature, we feel the true standout track of Born This Way is the first number, “Marry the Night.”
The lyrics describe going out dancing to release bottled up emotions (“I’m gonna’ marry the night / I won’t give up on my life”), a pretty universal message that is especially applicable to queer people who might be struggling with coming to terms with their identities.
While this is our personal favorite gay anthem from this album, a close second worth checking out is the “Hair,” in which Gaga proclaims, “I just want to be myself and I want you to love me for who I am.”
The epic 14-minute video for “Marry the Night” is worth checking out, as well. View it below.
6: Heidi Montag – My Parade
When we saw the title “My Parade” on the track listing for reality star Heidi Montag’s 2010 debut, Superficial, we knew just from the title that it was gay anthem material.
We were right – though the song is really about going out for a night on the town (“You better follow me, we headed to the after party / Keep dancing to the song all night long”), there is an underlying theme of perseverance.
Lyrics like, “You can keep on talking up a storm / I will stay strong, got my marching boots on,” and “Won’t let you rain on my parade / Gonna’ take it one step at a time / Won’t get out of line,” are both deliciously camp and inspirational, as any true gay anthem should be.
5: Ke$ha – Warrior
While the obvious choice when considering potential gay anthems by Ke$ha might be her 2010 number one, “We R Who We R,” the title track from her latest album, 2012’s Warrior, rings much truer.
While “We R Who We R” does inspire you to be yourself, encouraging donning “stockings ripped all up the sides,” and “dancing like we’re dumb,” “Warrior” is a lot stronger as a gay anthem.
Lyrics like, “We were born to break the doors down, fighting till the end / It’s something that’s inside of us, it’s how we’ve always been,” that encourage people to “stand up for true love” because “it’s time for a revolution,” are Ke$ha’s most straightforward musical expressions of support for equality.
And though the lyrics on their own are strong, Warrior’s hard beat – especially the dubstep-inspired breakdown in the bridge – definitely gives the song some extra attitude.
“Die Young,” the debut single from Warrior, shares the same edgy attitude. Check out the video for the song below.
4: Miley Cyrus – My Heart Beats for Love
Another effort from the newest generation of aspiring divas, this ballad, off of Miley’s 2010 album Can’t Be Tamed, seems tailor-made for the gay community.
Lyrics like, “Standing here with my flag held high / Can’t you see that it’s worth the fight,” and “My heart beats for love / It’s the sound that I hear, tells me not to give up,” highlight the importance of fighting for equal rights. Some might call such lyrics pandering but to us, they’re perfection.
Another honorable mention from this album – the liberation anthem, “Liberty Walk.” Miley was all about letting loose on this album. She definitely went wild in the video for the album’s title track — check it out below.
3: Jessie and the Toyboys – Runaway
Jessie and the Toyboys, a “band” made up of singer Jessie Malakouti and some mannequins, stepped into the spotlight (literally) as the opening act for Britney Spears on her 2011 Femme Fatale tour.
The band performed their singles – hot dance numbers that totally rival Britney’s, such as “Let’s Get Naughty,” and our personal fave, “Push It.” One of the bands hottest tracks, however, is actually a ballad, released on Valentine’s day of 2012 to celebrate the overturning of California’s Proposition 8.
The song, “Runaway,” is a sweet love song with a queer twist. Jessie sings sweet lyrics like, “Baby, we could run away and be in love,” and “I don’t care what they say / ‘Cause we’re old enough to fight for freedom,” over a breathtakingly atmospheric beat. The video is even more beautiful. Check it out below.
2: Chris Crocker – Love You Better
Chris Crocker rose to infamy as an internet celebrity when his clip in defense of Britney Spears, “Leave Britney Alone,” went viral. But with his 2008 debut single, “Mind in the Gutter,” Chris proved he was more than a YouTube sensation and could hold his own when it comes to making a catchy pop track.
But his best music moment came when he was at his most vulnerable. His 2010 single, “Love You Better,” is a bittersweet ballad about being in love with someone who doesn’t look past the surface.
With lyrics like, “I know I’m really not his type / But I can’t win him if I never try,” and “Look past my disguises / Now my make-up is disappearing,” the song plays as a sort of drag queen/gender queer lament.
Available as both a pop mix and stripped-down acoustic track, both versions hit close to home. Check out a clip of the song below.
1: Willa Ford – Who I Am
Most people remember Willa Ford for her 2001 top 25 hit, “I Wanna Be Bad.” While Willa failed to achieve much mainstream success after that, she leaked a track planned for her second album in 2009 titled, “Who I Am.”
The track is literally the soundtrack to anyone who is coming to terms with their sexuality. “I am longing to be free from longing / Haunted by questions I’m afraid to face,” Willa sings on the ambient midtempo.
The beat builds up with each chorus, where Willa sings, “A woman’s supposed to love a man / And I’ve tried the best I can / But this is not who I am,” before settling into a beautiful arrangement of synths and strings, over which Willa declares, “It’s not my fault, this is just who I am / We can’t help who we are.”
While it’s not the best song ever, the sincerity and rawness of the lyrics take the song to a whole other level. Hear it for yourself below.
What do you think of our choices? Are there any lesser-known anthems you think belong in this list? Let us know in the comments section!