Gay anthem

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Geri Halliwell's "Mi Chico Latino", "Bag It Up", "It's Raining Men" and "Ride It" are classic gay anthems.

A gay anthem is a popular song that has become widely popular among, or has become identified with, the gay community, particularly gay men, although some of these songs may also become anthems for the rest of the LGBT community. Multiple top-charting popular songs, such as "I Think I'm in Love with You" by Jessica Simpson, "The Boys are Back in Town", "True Colors" by Cindy Lauper, "For Once in My Life" by Mel B, "Mi Chico Latino", "It's Raining Men" and "Ride It" by Geri Halliwell, "I Kissed a Girl" by Katy Perry, "Raise Your Glass" by Pink and "We R Who We R" by Kesha have become a "refuge of unambiguous support for gay rights".[1] Not all songs labelled as "gay anthems" were written with that purpose, but they are included in this subgenre of popular music if they have become particularly popular among the gay community.

The lyrics of gay anthems are often marked by themes of perseverance, inner strength, acceptance, pride, and unity.[2] Ten elements were identified by the editors of the 2002 book Queer, which they claim describe themes common to many gay anthems: "big voiced divas; themes of overcoming hardship in love; "you are not alone;" themes of throwing your cares away (to party); hard won self-esteem; unashamed sexuality; the search for acceptance; torch songs for the world-weary; the theme of love conquers all; and of making no apologies for who you are."[2]

According to Popular Music, a music journal, the song most commonly identified as a gay anthem is "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor.[3] The song is described as "a classic emblem of gay culture in the post-Stonewall and AIDS eras and arguably disco's greatest anthem." UK LGBT rights charity Stonewall named Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful" the most empowering song of the 2000s decade for LGBT people,[4] and Elton John predicted it would replace "I Will Survive" as the pre-eminent gay anthem.[2]

Village People's "Y.M.C.A.",[5] The Weather Girls's "It's Raining Men",[6][7] Diana Ross' "I'm Coming Out" and "Ain't No Mountain High Enough",[8] ABBA's "Dancing Queen" are classic gay anthems.[2]

Mariah Carey's "Hero", Ultra Naté's "Free", Janet Jackson's "Together Again", Cher's "Believe", Jessica Simpson's "I Think I'm in Love with You" and "A Public Affair", Kylie Minogue's "Spinning Around" and "Can't Get You Out of My Head", Geri Halliwell's "It's Raining Men" and "Ride It", Dannii Minogue's "I Begin to Wonder", Melanie C's "Never Be the Same Again" and "Think About It", Tamar Braxton's "Hot Sugar" and "My Man", Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" and Ariana Grande's "Break Free" are considered as gay anthems for the new generation.[2]

Famous soundtracks as "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston from The Bodyguard, "There You'll Be" by Faith Hill from Pearl Harbor, "Can't Fight the Moonlight" by LeAnn Rimes from Coyote Ugly, "It's Raining Men" by Geri Halliwell from Bridget Jones's Diary, "Lady Marmalade" by Christina Aguilera, Mýa, Lil' Kim and Pink from Moulin Rouge! and "We Can" by LeAnn Rimes from Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde are beloved by gay community and are considered as gay anthems.[2]

The main single of I Turn to You by Melanie C, which became a gay anthem, was released as the "Hex Hector Radio Mix", for which Hex Hector won the 2001 Grammy as Remixer of the Year.[9]


Melanie Brown was shown kissing another woman in her "For Once in My Life" video, making this song a hymn of the gay community.

Although every song is individual, the criteria for what makes a gay anthem has shown a trend among the years. In the book Queer, the following ten main themes were listed that are common among many, if not all gay anthems:[6]

Tamar Braxton's "Hot Sugar", "If I Don't Have You" and "My Man" are gay anthems.
  • Big-voiced divas
Rather than particular songs, this area of gay anthems is more akin to a cult of personality of a large gay male following for some particular diva-style pop music vocalists who are almost always female gay icons. Modern examples include Cher, Cyndi Lauper, Britney Spears, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Céline Dion, Kylie Minogue, Madonna, Barbra Streisand, Donna Summer, Evelyn "Champagne" King, Tamar Braxton, Geri Halliwell, Christina Aguilera, Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, Jessica Simpson, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Adele, Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez and Ariana Grande.
  • Overcoming hardship in love
Usually a narrative of a wronged lover who comes back stronger than before.
  • You are not alone
Songs about coming together as a community or reassurance to the lonely that there are others like them out there.
  • Throw your cares away
A carefree narrative about putting your troubles aside and partying.
  • Hard-won self-esteem
Here, the theme involves fighting through oppression, darkness or fear to gain freedom, beauty or self-esteem.
  • Celebrating unashamed sexuality
The theme here is of transcending cultural shame to celebrate one's sexual nature.
  • Search for acceptance
Songs about a welcoming promised land where the dream of acceptance and belonging and hope lives.
  • Torch song for the world weary
A narrative about being used, abused and surviving to tell the tale of lament.
  • Love conquers all
Tales of not giving up on love despite seemingly insurmountable odds.
  • No apologies
Here, the theme revolves around defiantly living one's life despite what others may want.

List of historically significant gay anthem songs[edit]

Year Released Song Title Artist(s) Gay anthem reference
1920 "The Lavender Song (Das Lila Lied)" Lyrics by Kurt Schwabach [10]
1939 "Over the Rainbow" Judy Garland [11][7]
1954 "The Man That Got Away" [12]
1957 "Somewhere (There's a Place for Us)" From the musical West Side Story [6][7]
1960 "As Long as He Needs Me" Shirley Bassey [6][7]
1966 "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" Dusty Springfield [6]
1970 "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" Diana Ross [6]
1972 "All the Young Dudes" Mott the Hoople [13]
1975 "Sweet Transvestite" Tim Curry from the Motion Picture The Rocky Horror Picture Show [14]
"I Was Born This Way" Valentino [15]
1976 "Dancing Queen" ABBA [6][7]
"Turn the Beat Around" Vicki Sue Robinson [6]
1977 "I Feel Love" Donna Summer [16]
1978 "I Will Survive" Gloria Gaynor [7][17][18]
"Glad to Be Gay" Tom Robinson Band [19]
"You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)" Sylvester [7]
"Macho Man" Village People [20]
"Y.M.C.A." [21]
1979 "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight) ABBA [7]
"Boys Keep Swinging" David Bowie [7]
"We Are Family" Sister Sledge [22]
"No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)" Donna Summer & Barbra Streisand [6]
"Go West" Village People [7]
1980 "I'm Coming Out" Diana Ross [7][23]
1982 "I've Never Been to Me" Charlene [14]
"Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?" Culture Club [7]
"And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" Jennifer Holliday [6]
"It's Raining Men" The Weather Girls [6][7]
1983 "So Many Men, So Little Time" Miquel Brown [6][7]
"I Am What I Am" From the musical La Cage aux Folles [7][24]
"Holiday" Madonna [6]
1984 "Smalltown Boy" Bronski Beat [6]
"Why?" [25]
"You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)" Dead or Alive [14]
"I Want to Break Free" Queen [14]
1985 "Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves" Eurythmics and Aretha Franklin [6]
1986 Don't Leave Me This Way" The Communards [26][27]
"True Colors" Cyndi Lauper [28][29]
1987 "Boom Boom (Let's Go Back to My Room)" Paul Lekakis [14]
"Express Yourself" Madonna [14]
1988 "A Little Respect" Erasure [6]
1989 "I Want That Man" Deborah Harry [14]
"Closer to Fine" Indigo Girls [30]
1990 "Vogue" Madonna [7]
1991 "Finally" CeCe Peniston [6]
1992 "Constant Craving" k.d. lang [14]
"Supermodel (You Better Work)" RuPaul [14]
"I Will Always Love You" (theme from the movie The Bodyguard) Whitney Houston [14]
1993 "Come to My Window" Melissa Etheridge [30]
"Yes I Am" [30]
"This Is It" Dannii Minogue [14]
"I'm Every Woman" (theme from the movie The Bodyguard) Whitney Houston [14]
"Hero" Mariah Carey [31]
1994 "Put Yourself in My Place" Kylie Minogue [14]
1995 "I Kissed a Girl" Jill Sobule [32]
1997 "Young Hearts Run Free" Kym Mazelle [14]
"Free" Ultra Naté [6]
"Together Again" Janet Jackson [6]
"Outside" Mariah Carey [31]
1998 "Outside" George Michael [7]
"Believe" Cher [33]
1999 "Strong Enough" Cher [14]
"New York City Boy" Pet Shop Boys [14]
"Mi Chico Latino" Geri Halliwell [14]
"It's Not Right, But It's Okay" Whitney Houston [14]
2000 "Proud" Heather Small [14]
"Bag It Up" Geri Halliwell [14]
"I Think I'm in Love with You" Jessica Simpson [14]
"Never Be the Same Again" Melanie C [14]
"I Turn to You" Melanie C [14]
"Can't Take That Away (Mariah's Theme)" Mariah Carey [34]
"How Many Licks?" Lil' Kim featuring Sisqó [14]
"Can't Fight the Moonlight" (theme from the movie Coyote Ugly) LeAnn Rimes [14]
"Spinning Around" Kylie Minogue [14]
2001 "Your Disco Needs You" Kylie Minogue [7]
"Can't Get You Out of My Head" [35]
"It's Raining Men" (theme from the movie Bridget Jones's Diary) Geri Halliwell [6][7]
"Murder on the Dancefloor" Sophie Ellis-Bextor [36]
"Lady Marmalade" (theme from the movie Moulin Rouge!) Christina Aguilera, Mýa, Lil' Kim and Pink [6][7]
"There You'll Be" (theme from the movie Pearl Harbor) Faith Hill [6][7]
2002 "Beautiful" Christina Aguilera [37][38][39][40]
"Shined on Me" Praise Cats [6][7]
"Dove (I'll Be Loving You)" Moony [6][7]
2003 "Defying Gravity" Introduced by Idina Menzel, from the musical Wicked [41]
"I Begin to Wonder" Dannii Minogue [42]
"Don't Mess with My Man" Nivea [42]
"We Can" (theme from the movie Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde) LeAnn Rimes [7]
2004 "Take Your Mama" Scissor Sisters [7]
2005 "Ride It" Geri Halliwell [42]
2006 "A Public Affair" Jessica Simpson [42]
"I Belong to Me" Jessica Simpson [7]
"Nothing in This World" Paris Hilton [7]
2009 "Fuck You" Lily Allen [43]
"Bad Romance" Lady Gaga [44]
2010 "Firework" Katy Perry
2011 "Born This Way" Lady Gaga [45]
"Think About It" Melanie C [7]
2012 "Same Love" Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert [46]
"Party or Go Home" Trina Braxton [7]
2013 "For Once in My Life" Melanie Brown [47][48][49][50]
"Hot Sugar" Tamar Braxton [51][better source needed]
"Woman's World" Cher [7]
"Girls/Girls/Boys" Panic! at the Disco [52]
"Limpido" Laura Pausini and Kylie Minogue [7]
"Let It Go" Written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez & Robert Lopez; originally performed by Idina Menzel [53][54]
2014 "Break Free" Ariana Grande [55]
"Born An Angel" Afida Turner [56][57]
"Fancy" Iggy Azalea featuring Charli XCX [7]
"Really Don't Care" Demi Lovato featuring Cher Lloyd [58][59]
"Sledgehammer" Fifth Harmony [7]
"Let Me Know" Tamar Braxton [51]
2015 "If I Don't Have You" Tamar Braxton [51]
"The Way We Are" Alesha Dixon [7]
2016 "Secret Love Song (song)" Little Mix featuring Jason Derulo [60]
2017 "My Man" Tamar Braxton [51]
"Angels In Chains" Geri Halliwell [7]
"Heart Attack" Chuu [7]
2018 "Thank U, Next" Ariana Grande [61]

See also[edit]


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  3. ^ Hubbs, Nadine (May 2007). "'I Will Survive': musical mappings of queer social space in a disco anthem". Popular Music. 26 (2): 231–244. doi:10.1017/s0261143007001250.
  4. ^ "Media: Current Releases". Archived from the original on September 16, 2011. Retrieved May 19, 2013.
  5. ^ Jeff Perlman. ""Y.M.C.A." (An Oral History)". Spin magazine. Retrieved April 26, 2009.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x Simon Gage, Lisa Richards, and Howard Wilmot. "Queer". pp. 26–7. ISBN 1-56025-377-0. Retrieved April 26, 2009.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj "The pink hit parade: Sing if you're glad to be gay". The Independent. London. November 1, 2006. Retrieved April 26, 2009.
  8. ^ "25 Essential LGBTQ Pride Songs". Rolling Stone. Retrieved July 30, 2017.
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  13. ^ "All The Young Dudes". July 26, 2012.
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  15. ^ "Valentino...he was born that was Carl Bean". QMH. June 2002.
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