Pride Playlist: LGBTQ+ Celebs Pick Songs For Pride Month 2023 – Hollywood Life

The Sound Of Pride 2023: LGBTQ+ Celebs Pick Songs For Your Perfect Pride Month Playlist (Exclusive)

Happy Pride! To celebrate LGBTQIA+ equality, stars from the worlds of music, television, and the squared circle pick songs throughout June for the ultimate Pride Month playlist.

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Image Credit: Scott Garfitt/Global/Shutterstock

It’s Pride Month, and now, more than ever, it’s time to celebrate and support the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, Two-Spirit community. First observed in June 1970 on the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, Pride Month has become a way for members of the LGBTQIA2s+ community to demand equality, protest injustice and proclaim their right to exist happily. Pride Month has also become a time for those to celebrate their sexuality and gender identity while proudly and joyfully embracing themselves for who they are.

To help celebrate, HollywoodLife returns with The Sound Of Pride, our monthlong feature where members of the community pick songs for the ultimate Pride 2023 playlist. Until the end of June, HL will feature members of the music, television, movie, and wrestling world, each picking songs to make this year’s playlist the best. The stars will also share some of their Pride Month memories, some of their unsung LGBTQ+ heroes, and messages for others in the communities, allies, and more.

Be sure to subscribe to the Spotify playlist and check back at HollywoodLife throughout June to see every edition of 2023’s The Sound of Pride.

This year’s curators are (updating):

  • Margaret Cho (“Fight for queer rights.”)
  • V Spehar of UnderTheDeskNews (” I celebrate being queer, and queer folks, all year round.”)
  • Hayfitz (“Be patient and forgiving to yourself.”
  • Landon Reid (“It’s important for us to always choose love and acceptance over hatred and fear.”)
  • Effy (“Pride cannot be a celebration while parts of our group are suffering.”)
  • Brian Welch of GayC/DC (“The community is banding together again to protect each other and fend off those who wish us harm. And we’re here for it.”)
  • Alaska Thunderf-ck (“Pride is suddenly controversial again, which I guess feels familiar to when I first started going to Pride years ago.”)
  • Shamir (“I guess when I played and celebrated my first Pride back in 2016 for LA Pride. It was such a joyous experience and the perfect first Pride experience!”)
  • Softee (“This is an extremely scary time, and the queer community needs to band together to protect trans people.”)
  • Edith Surreal (“It’s not a celebration this year; it should be a call to arms.”)
  • Chris Freeman (“The temperature has risen to a level I haven’t seen since the ’80s with Anita Bryant.”)
  • BeBe Zahara Benet (“This year, we’re going bigger and celebrating harder than last year, for sure.”)
  • IDMAN (“Pride [is] a beautiful reminder of how Black Muslims have always been a part of the Queer community.”)
  • Ginger Minj (“Visibility and joy and strength in our community needs to be seen and shared with the world.”)
  • Dark Sheik (“We don’t often realize the importance of this communion, but it is healing and powerful.”)

For those who would like to revisit the 2022 edition of TSOP and see who picked what for the 2022 playlist, check out: Bob The Drag Queen; Grag Queen; Vico Ortiz; Kid Congo Powers; Peppermint; George Perris; Mercury Stardust; MuMu; Sam Kogon; Ash Gordon; Elizabeth Wyld; Maryze; Sonny Kiss; Jada Michael; Nyla Rose; Mercedes Martinez; Anthony Bowens; Brandon Stansell; ONICKS; Darren Hayes; VINCINT, Ian Paget; and Shea Coulée.

The Grammy-winning Kim Petras (Scott Garfitt/Global/Shutterstock)

The fight for gay rights didn’t start in 1969, but the Gay Liberation Front was born out of the Stonewall Uprising – the July 28th incident that saw plainclothes police officers raid the Stonewall Inn in New York City. According to the Library of Congress, the police entered the bar and interrogated the patrons. Raids like these were common for queer establishments (listen to the You’re Wrong About episode about Stonewall for further info), but this time around, a butch woman fought against the police. The bar’s staff and “cross-dressers” were often arrested, the latter being the most visible law-breakers.

However, the raid came at a time when the LGBTQ+ community was simply tired of the oppression. They fought back, throwing stones and various objects at the police. Several people were arrested, and by 4 am, most of the crowd had dispersed. But, word of the rebellion spread through the city, and by the evening of the 28th, thousands of protestors gathered around Stonewall and throughout lower Manhattan. The protests continued into the following week.

A year later, the GLF organized the three Pride parades – in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles – kicking off the modern gay rights movement. As The New York Times covered its breakdown of the myths around Stonewall, the GLF went on “to create the first LGBTQ community center and the first organization for gay youth.”

Though Martha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera have been credited with “throwing the first brick,” The New York Times notes that they both disputed that claim. It was possibly gender-nonconforming Stormé DeLarverie, a bouncer at Stonewall, who was the butch woman who first called people to action.

More than fifty years later, LGBTQ+ rights and those in the community remain under attack. As of May 2023, the American Civil Liberties Union is tracking nearly 500 anti-LGBTQ bills in the United States, per PEOPLE. Most of the legislation attacks drag performances, though many have pointed out that these are also covert attacks on trans people. The Human Rights Campaign has also tracked legislation preventing people under 18 from receiving gender-affirming care.

Aino Jawo and Caroline Hjelt of Icona Pop at Stockholm Pride festival (IBL/Shutterstock)

In April, Missouri became the first state in the country to severely restrict gender-affirming treatment for people of all ages, per The New York Times, unless they “adhere to a slew of significant restrictions, including 18 months of psychological assessment. The rule also said that patients should not receive gender treatments until any mental health issues are ‘resolved.'”

Similarly, many fear the right-wing Justices on the Supreme Court – who overturned Roe v. Wade – would set their sights on Obergefell v. Hodges, the case allowing same-sex marriage in the United States. The court’s 6-3 conservative majority seems poised to side with Lorie Smith, a Colorado web designer and conservative Christian, who argued that the state’s nondiscrimination law violates her free speech. Smith halted her web design business from expanding into making wedding websites since she believes marriage is only between cisgender heterosexual couples. Being unable to turn away non-hetero couples because she disagrees with their desires to marry is, in her view, a violation of free speech.

The attitude in 2023 America has also gotten to the point – thanks to fearmongering, hate-breeding, and misinformation – that the Conservative Political Action Coalition (CPAC) has attacked Target over items in its Pride collection designed by trans designer Erik Carnell, who says he’s received hundreds of death threats, per The Guardian. Pink News also reports that videos have been shared on social media of anti-LGBTQ+ people harassing Target employees and destroying their Pride displays. (Also, no: Target did not offer “tuck-friendly” swimsuits for kids.)

There was also the recent violent backlash to Bud Light teaming with Dylan Mulvaney for a TikTok video, spearheaded by a video of aging rock musician Robert “Kid Rock” Ritchie unloading a round of bullets into cases of the beer he had bought.

“I think going after a trans woman who has been doing this for 20 years is a lot more difficult,” Dyaln said when speaking about the unusually loud backlash (especially since half of America’s most popular beer brands have Pride Month partnerships.)

“Maybe they think there’s some sort of chance with me that they can,” asked Dylan, “but I mean, what is their goal?”

Rolling Stone may have summed it their “goal” best with their headline about what Daily Wire host Michael Knowles said during the 2023 Conservative Political Action Conference: “CPAC Speaker Calls For Eradication Of ‘Transgenderism’ – And Somehow Claims He’s Not Calling For Elimination of Transgender People.”

As The New York Times piece above covered, the gay rights movement has been going on for years. And denying the LGBTQ+ community’s right to equality and their contributions to history is a grave error. Though the climate hasn’t always allowed them to live freely, queer people have been instrumental in the creation of music.

Mai Rainey, a pioneering blues musician, sang about how she “don’t like no men” in her 1928 song, “Prove It On Me Blues,” per Billboard. She and Bessie Smith, another bisexual blues singer, pushed the envelope of what society deemed fit at the time. That spirit was also found in Esquerita, the provocative rock’ n’ roller of the late 1950s. With a trademark towering pompadour, the rocker born Eskew Reeder Jr. blazed his own path in music history – one commemorated by Norton Records adopting Esquerita’s face as their official mascot.

It would take numerous books to comprehensively summarize the impact that the LGBTQ+ community has had on modern music (one could check out Sasha Geffen’s Glitter Up The Dark: How Pop Music Broke the Binary, Darryl W. Bullock’s David Bowie Made Me Gay: 100 Years of LGBT Music or his other book, The Velvet Mafia: The Gay Men Who Ran The Swinging Sixties as a start.)

Paula Abdul at LA Pride 2019 (MediaPunch/Shutterstock)

Pop music – both behind the scenes and behind the microphone – is full of LGBTQ+ people. Hip-hop wouldn’t exist without queer people, specifically the queer people of color who pioneered the genres of disco, house, and dance music that spawned hip-hop. Sylvester, Big Freedia, and Frankie Knuckles walked so that Lil Nas X and Frank Ocean could run (check out more unsung heroes here and here.)

Similarly, rock, punk, and metal music wouldn’t exist without Freddie Mercury, Kid Congo Powers, Jayne County, Jobriah, Elton John, Rob Halford, Wayne County, Joan Jett, Bob Mould, Linda Perry, and more paving the way. Aye Nako, The Dilators, TDA, Gender Envy, and Trap Girl are just some of the awesome bands keeping punk alive. Similarly, Lzzy Hale, Billie Joe Armstrong, Haela Ravenna Hunt-Hendrix, Laura Jane Grace, and more rockers – which you can find here – continue to light the path for today’s youth, making space for the next generation of LGBTQ+ rockers to fly their flags while banging their heads.

There’s also a bevy of queer country artists, from Orville Peck to Brandy Clark, Ty Hendron, Lily Rose, and Amythyst Kiah. For more, check here.

Face it: Music is just better when everyone gets a chance to play. And LGBTQ+ people have been making some of your favorite music for years.

So, in the spirit of Pride Month, go out and research new LGBTQ+ musicians. Find out those that influenced your favorite artists. And keep coming back to HollywoodLife for the latest installment of The Sound of Pride and the latest additions to The Sound Of Pride 2023 playlist.