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Music of Pride – Divas & Legends

When it comes to music, we love our strong fierce and often defiant divas.  Perhaps it’s because their songs of struggle and perseverance remind us of our own.  Other times it’s because of their singular vocal talents.  Either way, they have reached legendary status in the heart and soul of the gay Community.

As such, no celebration of Pride would be complete without recognizing some of the many performers who captivate, inspire, and lift us up with their music.  To be sure that is no short list and the songs from their discographies exponentially longer.  We tried to span the decades as well as choose the most relevant songs/performances though maybe not their biggest hit.  Hopefully we’ve included at least a few of your favorites.

To start we have an iconic performance from 1963 by two legends, Judy Garland and Barbara Streisand.


Unless you were actually there, it’s nearly impossible to imagine the gay bath houses of the 1970’s.  More than just sex clubs, “the baths” were a gay oasis, a haven, and safe space away from homophobia and the threat of violence.  Few performers have had as storied and illustrious careers as Bette Midler, even fewer have become gay icons.  That may be partly due to the fact she has never forgotten where her career began, performing at the gay Continental Baths in New York with Barry Manilow as her accompanist in 1971.


It’s been almost two years since we lost our “hopelessly devoted’ ally and radiant performer Olivia Newton-John.

Previous post: “Podcast: Remembering Olivia Newton-John” 

In 1974 she released, “I Honestly Love You” which became her first #1 record and earning Olivia a Grammy for Record of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Female.”  Written by Peter Allen, a closeted gay, the lyrics and emotion of his song take on a new and deeper meaning.


While appearing as Evita Peron eight times a week, Broadway diva Patti LuPone would do a midnight cabaret show on Saturday night down in the Village at Le Mouches.  #WhatLegendsAreMadeOf  The iconic gig turned “Meadowlark” from The Baker’s Wife into a signature song.  This is rare footage from Le Mouches.


In 1981, Freddie Mercury and Queen, together with the legendary David Bowie, surprisingly released “Under Pressure.” It was destined to become one of the greatest successes in the history of rock music with its stellar performances and message of hope and love in the worst of times.


Undeniably one of the greatest composers and musicians of the rock era, Sir Elton John is also one of the greatest humanitarians raising hundreds of millions of dollars through the Elton John Aids Foundation.  His 1983 hit “I’m Still Standing” and accompanying music video quickly became an anthem for LGBTQ empowerment, strength, and resilience.  Though John wouldn’t publicly come out until 1988, if you look closely in the video, you’ll notice the solid band on his straw skimmer changes to a rainbow.


As the plague of AIDS took hold in the early 1980s, perhaps it is more than divine coincidence Madonna arrived like a force of nature to balance the terrifying unknown.  Overnight she captured the imagination of our Community with her music, style, and ability for reinvention.  Madonna became a welcome escape from the nightmare of conservative government, virulent religious homophobia, and hatred.  Simply put Madonna has always been “A Ray of Light.”


Few artists rise to such iconic stardom they simply go by one name, and it usually requires the love and devotion of the Gay Community.  One of those select artists is the uncompromising, outspoken, and timeless Cher.  Her strength over adversity and tenacity through hardship has fueled her passionate creativity as an artist.  Cher is role model in her love and support for her transgender son, Chas and for always being true and authentic to oneself.  She has given generations of LGBTQ people countless songs to dance to, including her mega-dance hit “Believe.”


It’s been said the “gay men are simply Black women who didn’t completely reincarnate.”  (think about it lol)  If that’s true, then luck is the gay man who’s Whitney Houston reincarnated.  Miss Whitney could throw down and when it came to done me wrong songs like “It’s Not Right” few artist can even come close.


What would we do with out our allies?  Lucky for us one of greatest allies is probably the biggest recording star on Earth right now, Taylor Swift.  Not one usually for social issues or controversy,  Taylor took the haters head on in a proud stand with the LGBTQ Community in “You Need to Calm Down.”


Billy Porter has become one of the 21st century’s biggest queer icons.  From his Tony award winning performance in Kinky Boots, to his Emmy winning role on POSE that rocketed him to global status, Billy Porter has always been 100% authentic, outspoken, preached love is the way.  Here he is performing his hit “Love Yourself” as the finale of World Pride Opening Ceremonies in New York City.


Read our previous Pride Month 2024 posts:

“Proud Out Loud! – PRIDE 2024”
“Gilbert Baker’s Gift of Pride — The Rainbow Flag” 
“Make Your Voice Heard and Vote with Pride”
“Music of Pride – The Classics” 
“Amber Riley visits “MacArthur Park” for Pride: VIDEO”
“Pulse Massacre 8th Anniversary Remembrance” 
“Lady Bunny is Fired Up for ‘Hot Troll Summer’ Shows”
“Podcast: Pro Wrestler Comes Out, Pride Month TV + More” 
“Music of Pride – Broadway” 
“Forty Tony Years of ‘La Cage aux Folles’”
“Docuseries Reveals How Disco Changed the World: Trailer” 
“Rejoice on Juneteenth with Alvin Ailey’s ‘Revelations’: VIDEO” 
“Show Your “True Colors” in ASL: VIDEOS” 


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