6 LGBTQ+ Hip-Hop and R&B stars paving the way
10 June 2021, 15:00 | Updated: 10 June 2021, 15:45
We're celebrating some of the most influential LGBTQ+ singers and rappers who've been changing the game.
Representation and inclusion within the music industry is really important, so it's amazing to see so many artists proudly celebrating the LGBTQ+ community and encouraging their fans to embrace their individuality.
From Lil Nas X and Frank Ocean to Kehlani and Kaytranada, there are tons of musicians across the Hip-Hop and R&B genres paving the way and helping people find their voice.
June is Pride Month, so let's check out some of the most inspirational and important figures in the community below.
Lil Nas X
Chart-topping rapper Lil Nas X, who catapulted to stardom with his viral hit 'Old Town Road', publicly came out as gay in June 2019.
On the last day of Pride Month, he tweeted, "some of y'all already know, some of y'all don't care, some of y'all not gone fwm no more. but before this month ends i want y'all to listen closely to c7osure."
The rapper has been open about feeling uncomfortable with his sexuality growing up, but remains determined to inspire his LGBTQ+ fans to live their truth.
Following the controversy surrounding his 2021 single 'Montero (Call Me By Your Name)', Nas tweeted, "y’all told a 19 year old who had just escaped the lowest point of his life that he would never have a hit again.
"you told him to stop while he’s ahead. he could’ve gave up. but 4 multi platinum songs and 2 #1’s later, he’s still here. thank you to my team and my fans! ily".
Kehlani came out as gay in April 2021, proudly declaring in a TikTok video, "I am gay, gay, gay. I finally know I’m a lesbian."
The Platinum-selling Oakland native, who uses she/they pronouns, has long been an LGBTQ+ advocate and has openly spoken about her sexuality in the past.
"i felt gay always insisted there was still a line drawn as to which ‘label’ of human i was attracted when i really jus be walking around thinking ERRYBODY FINE," she wrote in a since-deleted tweet.
In a 2020 interview with Diva Magazine, she said, "I’m definitely on the non-binary scale. But I still prefer and am totally fine with the pronoun ‘she’."
She added, "My energy has always been extremely fluid between masculine and feminine so that’s why I use ‘queer’, and also, queer is inclusive to non-binary people."
Frank Ocean's debut album Channel Orange, which dropped back in 2012, saw the singer-songwriter open up for the first time about his sexuality.
The record hears Ocean speak on his experience falling in love with a man during his teenage years, resulting in many journalists speculating about Ocean's sexual orientation.
Just days before it's release, he shared an open letter on his Tumblr page addressing rumours. "It was my first love, it changed my life," he wrote, "I feel like a free man."
In an interview with GQ, Ocean said of the letter, "I was just like, ‘F**k it. Talk about it, don’t talk about it. No more mystery. Through with that’. The night I posted it, I cried like a f**king baby."
Grammy Award-winning producer and DJ Kaytranada came out as gay in 2016, the same year his esteemed debut album 99.9% dropped.
During an interview with Fader, the Canadian hitmaker opened up about the moment he came out to his family.
"I just snapped," he said, "Something inside me was like, ‘Wake the f**k up.’ I felt like there were two people inside me. I was trying to be somebody I was not, and I was frustrated that people didn’t know who I was."
Initially telling his mother and brother that he was bisexual, Kay later admitted that he was gay. "I feel better than I ever have, you know?" he said.
"I’ve been sad my whole life, but f**k that. I know I have good things ahead. I don’t know honestly if I’m fully, 100 percent happy, but I’m starting to get there."
"I don’t call myself straight, I don’t call myself gay, it’s just me…” he said. "But, I guess, I am gay."
Janelle Monae is a proud advocate of the LGBTQ+ community, with the singer coming out as pansexual in an interview with Rolling Stone in 2018.
"Being a queer black woman in America," she said, "someone who has been in relationships with both men and women – I consider myself to be a free-ass motherf**ker."
Revealing she previously identified as bisexual, Janelle said she later "read about pansexuality and was like, ‘Oh, these are things that I identify with too.’ I’m open to learning more about who I am."
Janelle expressed her hopes for younger people who are having difficulties dealing with their sexuality to feel seen and heard, admitting she was "terrified" to come out at first.
"It was my fear of what people were gonna say. And I’m thankful that I didn’t allow that fear to get in the way of my freedom.
“I just hope we can get to a point where black women who don’t identify as strictly heterosexual are normalized. It’s about normalizing and telling more stories, and inviting more LGBTQIA+ folks into the conversation on the front end, and giving us a seat at the table early on. Because we can’t afford to see things in a binary way. That’s not how the world works."
Brockhampton frontman Kevin Abstract came out as gay in 2016. He often raps about his sexuality in his lyrics, telling Gay Times that his goal is to "normalise" homosexuality.
"I’d see negative comments and forget being gay was a big deal to some people, that some people hadn’t heard it before," Kevin admitted. "My goal is just to normalise it. Straight rappers talk about their sexual relationships without warning me.
"And they are more explicit and violent. I have to express myself and who I am."
However, Abstract admitted he doesn't want his sexuality to define his success. "I don’t want to be a queer icon. I want to be an icon. In order to make a change, I have to exist in a traditionally homophobic space such as hip-hop.
"If I were to just be this queer rapper, who only spoke to queer kids… I don’t think I could as effectively make a change for another young, black queer kid growing up in Texas. Brockhampton’s music is for all types of people."