As Pride Month is wrapping up, we’re taking a look at the songs that let us celebrate our identities all year long. From staples like Lady Gaga to smaller artists like Cassadee Pope, artists are standing up for their fans as well as themselves to celebrate sexuality and identity. These are five pop songs that will elevate your Pride playlist and jam out to during celebrations this weekend!
1. girls girls girls – FLETCHER
Throughout her career FLETCHER has made no secret of her sexuality. She’s out, proud, and loving everything about women. However, in her work there’s a distinct lack of gendered pronouns. The artist has been quoted as saying, “…A reason why I always have been careful about my use of gender pronouns in my music because I never want anybody to feel taken out of the context of a song; but also because it doesn’t fucking matter who the gender is if it’s like a trans woman, a non-binary person, like whoever it is that broke your heart or made you feel something, if that’s a human experience, it doesn’t matter who did it.”
“girls girls girls,” released in 2021, is one of the first times I can recall hearing a pronoun in FLETCHER’s music at all. The twist to that is, she still accomplishes leaving the listener within the context of the song regardless of whether or not they’ve been attracted to a ‘she’. The song reads a celebration of lust through any lens and discovering one’s identity, cleverly utilizing the line “go tell your mom it’s not a phase.”
It gets a special shout out for the chorus lyrics “I kissed a girl and I liked it.” Drawing a parallel to Katy Perry‘s smash hit “I Kissed A Girl”- which is often criticized for being homophobic with lyrics like “it felt so wrong” and “it’s not what good girls do.” Instead, FLETCHER celebrates the exploration of sexuality and the rightness of allowing yourself to claim your identity- whatever it may be.
2. Lights Up – Harry Styles
It’s important that we take a moment to discuss “Lights Up” impact on Styles‘ listeners without speculating about the superstar’s own identity. He’s known for being quite private about his personal life and his sexuality rings no different. Even when discussing the song he deflects on the meaning, but instead the feeling behind it.
“For me, the song is about freedom. It’s about self-reflection and self-discovery and just, like freedom. It feels like very free to me. A couple things that I’ve thought about and I guess wrestle with a little bit over the last couple years. It’s kind of like just accepting all of those things. It’s a very positive song to me.”
Regardless of what those things he wrestled with may be, he hit the nail on the head with the freeing feeling of the song. The song is uplifting and empowering, as he makes promises that he’s never going to go back to pretending to be what he isn’t. The imagery for the video- Harry is shirtless, oiled, and felt up by people of all genders- make it clear that Harry is beyond accepting of the LGBTQ+ community. He’s rather welcoming of it. A sentiment that’s reflected at his shows as well, where he makes a point to incorporate bisexual, lesbian, and gay pride flags.
2. Born This Way – Lady Gaga
Truly we could not have a Pride Playlist without Lady Gaga or “Born This Way”. Some might be tired of hearing about her, but her championing of the LGBTQ+ community and advocacy knows no bounds. Especially considering the time in which she released Born This Way (2011) with the lyrics “No matter gay, straight, or bi’, lesbian, transgender life/I’m on the right track, baby, I was born to survive.”
This song came out four years prior to gay marriage becoming legalized by the Supreme Court and one year prior to Obama reversing his opinion on the issue to become the first president to publicly support same sex marriage. It could be considered a stretch to declare this as a direct result of Lady Gaga’s song, but it’s fair enough to claim that Gaga’s song assisted in altering the mainstream view of gayness.
As a child in the 2010’s Gaga’s song seemed like the first real depiction of LGBTQ+ identities as something to thrive within rather than survive from.
4. Mind Your Own – Cassadee Pope
While the previous songs on this playlist addressed uplifting who you are, Cassadee‘s “Mind Your Own” takes a different approach by calling the haters out. The singer reignited her career as a country musician after her season three win of NBC’s The Voice. The show and her subsequent career after gifted her a generous social media following. And when she voiced her opinions on gay rights, black lives matter, and women’s right on her platform, she started to receive some heat from followers.
In the “Mind Your Own” commentary track on Spotify, Pope addresses how in 2020 she “kept seeing people chiming in on who they chose to love, how they chose to hold their baby. Just a lot of judgement out there.” Fed up with seeing the unprovoked hate, she walked into the studio with an axe to pick.
“If you were happy you would mind your own business/Start working on your heart’s sad sickness/These words are meant for you, I’m not finished/If you don’t like/what you hear, quit bitching/Let ’em love who they love/Let their colors shine through/Let everybody be themselves/What’s it gotta do with you?/Why are you so hateful? Why are you so cold?/’Cause if you were happy you would mind your own, mind your own.”
The chorus is a big ‘fuck-you’ to those who chose to bring others down, but with the chaotic punk rock/country blend Cassadee’s built, it’s truly reassuring to those who have been criticized for their lifestyle. Ultimately, reminding listeners that if a hateful person has something to say about who you love or how you live your life, it’s about their own inner sadness.
5. The Kind of Lover I Am – Demi Lovato
Demi Lovato’s had their share of self discovery. With each album the artist blesses us with a new level of growth and self-realization. Shortly after their last album release, Dancing with the Devil… the Art of Starting Over, Lovato came out via social media as non-binary. Amidst the papers misgendering them (a back-handed acceptance if I’ve ever seen one) to present the news, it never got lost that Demi has been rather open about all aspects of their life with fans.
For over a decade, they’ve assisted in destigmatizing mental illness by discussing their journey (whether they genuinely wanted to or that the symptoms of their mental health became public knowledge and therefore unable to ignore). After a while, it’s tiresome to be known as the problem child in the public eyes and Demi addresses being known for her sickness on the same album the “The Kind of Lover I Am” is featured on.
It’s part of the reason the song is so masterful. This album was an opportunity to be unapologetically vivid within their own life, health, and sexuality. In the past, they’ve been forced to justify their actions and health status. However, Demi is not going to let you question their love for their partner or who they chose for their partner to be.
“Doesn’t matter, you’re a woman or a man/That’s the kind of lover I am/You can safely put your heart in my hands/That’s the kind of lover I am/I’ll hold you, console you, really get to know you/I’ll hold you, console you, every night I’ll show you/With the passion of a one night stand/That’s the kind of lover I am.”
It stands as a love is love anthem and the LGBTQ+ relationships aren’t any different from straight ones.