Celebrating Pride Month with Independent LGBTQ+ Music Artists

"Welcome to Pride Month! It's a month that's pretty special, but it shouldn't have to be. Brands shouldn't simply splash rainbows all over their websites and products on June 1 and then remove them on July 1. Flags of support shouldn't fly only for these 30 days. And talk of how far we've come and how much our progress is in danger should be a critical discussion every day.

"Pride is not just a month of beauty and colors and parties. It's a chance to remember that many of us still struggle to live and be treated just like everybody else. It's not enough to fly a flag and wish your friends 'Happy Pride!' for a month. Speak out when you see discrimination. Contribute to and get involved with those who are fighting to make changes for the better. And take your cues from those of us who are at the center of what Pride is all about.

"Pride is not just pretty. Pride is not just fun. Pride saves lives."

Indie 102.3 Morning Host Dana Meyers

June, universally celebrated as Pride Month, is a time when the LGBTQ+ community and its allies come together to honor the progress made in the fight for equality and to advocate for continued advancement. Amid the parades, rallies, and educational events, music serves as a powerful medium for expression and solidarity. Independent LGBTQ+ music artists, in particular, play a vital role in this cultural landscape, using their talents to both reflect and shape the experiences of the community.

The Significance of Pride Month and music

Pride Month commemorates the Stonewall Riots of June 1969, a pivotal event in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights. It is a time for celebration, remembrance, and activism, highlighting the contributions and struggles of LGBTQ+ individuals. Music has always been an integral part of this celebration, providing a soundtrack to the movement and a platform for voices that might otherwise go unheard.

Independent music artists operate outside the traditional music industry framework, often producing, distributing, and promoting their own work. This independence allows for greater artistic freedom, which is particularly important for LGBTQ+ artists who may face pressures to conform to mainstream expectations. Indie artists can explore themes of identity, love, and resistance in ways that are authentic and unfiltered.

A Few of the Many Notable Independent LGBTQ+ Artists

Kehlani:  Though Kehlani has achieved mainstream success, her journey began in the independent music scene. Identifying as queer, Kehlani's music often delves into the complexities of sexuality and relationships. Her openness about her identity and struggles with mental health has made her an inspirational figure within the LGBTQ+ community.

King Princess:  King Princess, the stage name of Mikaela Straus, burst onto the scene with her single "1950," an ode to queer love inspired by Patricia Highsmith's novel "The Price of Salt." Her music blends pop and rock elements with poignant lyrics about gender and sexuality. As an openly genderqueer artist, King Princess has become a symbol of modern queer visibility in music.

Anohni: Formerly known as Antony Hegarty of Antony and the Johnsons, Anohni has been a pioneering figure in the indie and experimental music scenes. As a transgender artist, Anohni’s haunting voice and poignant lyrics tackle issues of identity, environmentalism, and social justice. Her 2016 album "HOPELESSNESS" merges electronic music with powerful political commentary.

Ezra Furman:  Ezra Furman, known for her eclectic style and thought-provoking lyrics, openly identifies as genderqueer and uses her music to explore themes of gender, religion, and mental health. Her work, both as a solo artist and with her band The Harpoons, has garnered a dedicated following. Furman’s album "Transangelic Exodus" is a vivid narrative about escape and transformation.

Perfume Genius: Perfume Genius, the stage name of Mike Hadreas, has been an influential figure in the indie music scene for over a decade. As an openly gay artist, Hadreas’s music often deals with themes of trauma, intimacy, and resilience. His deeply emotional and often experimental sound has earned him critical acclaim and a loyal fanbase.

Arlo Parks: Softly spoken and the voice of an angel is British rising star Arlo Parks. She won the 2021 Mercury Prize for her debut album Collapsed in Sunbeams. Watch her perform some stripped down songs back in 2022 in our Indie Lounge during a Live Session.

Miya Folick: Singer-songwriter Miya Folick visited the Indie Lounge for a special stripped down performance. Watch the full session here.

Janelle Monáe: Janelle Monáe’s career spans both mainstream and independent music spheres. Identifying as pansexual and non-binary, Monáe’s futuristic and genre-blending music addresses themes of freedom, self-expression, and social justice. Her 2018 album "Dirty Computer" is a powerful celebration of queer identity and a critique of societal norms.

Kali Uchis: You may already know R&B darling Kali Uchis due to the millions of streams of her viral sensation tune "telepatia", but she's not stopping there.

Black Belt Eagle Scout: Indigenous musician Black Belt Eagle Scout celebrates her queerness while also working through trauma bestowed on the native community. Her album The Land, The Water, The Sky honors the ancestral land and tells the story of her and her peoples' journey to healing.

MUNA: Donned the "gayest band on the planet" is trio MUNA! Signed to Phoebe Bridgers' label Saddest Factory Records, the band put out their self-titled album and has toured all over the world to the queer masses and toured with Taylor Swift last year.

Romy: 1/3 of beloved indie band The xx has gone solo. Romy has been spreading her wings as a DJ and singer on many singles over the past couple of years. She performed her first major set at Coachella last year. We're hoping for a full tour soon.

Omar Apollo: Omar Apollo has been a mainstay of indie R&B since 2017. His album Ivory caught the attention of listeners with honest storytelling of queer relationships filled with passion and absolutely devastating heartbreak.

As we celebrate Pride Month, it is essential to recognize and support the independent music artists who represent the LGBTQ+ community. Their contributions enrich our cultural tapestry and serve as powerful reminders of the importance of authenticity and resilience. Through their music, these artists not only entertain but also pave the way for a more accepting and diverse world. In honoring their voices, we celebrate the spirit of Pride and the ongoing journey toward equality and love for all.