The Best Of: LGBT+ Love Songs

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We all love love, and it should be celebrated and enjoyed no matter how you identify. Here are a few of the best people championing love in all forms, with some words on what makes their tracks so great.

Frank Ocean – ‘Chanel’

‘Chanel’ is arguably Frank Ocean’s most honest and prominent display of his bisexuality to date, introspectively showing a heartfelt intimacy, whilst representing the LGBT+ community on the mainstream commercial stage.

Beginning with the line “My guy pretty like a girl”, Ocean opens the door for listeners to understand the fluidity of love, the perception of beauty, and the pride that Ocean takes in just being true to himself. With the affirming chorus “I see both sides like Chanel”, ‘Chanel’ maintains the artist’s distinctive idiosyncratic style whilst also celebrating his sexual ambiguity.

Uniting themes and lyrics regarding his own sexuality with his racial identity as a black man is a sure sign of pioneering genius, showing that there is a place for sexual freedom in one of music’s historically most gated communities. Tackling homophobia in hip-hop is something that Ocean has risen to the challenge of, and he is doing so with gallantry and poise.

words by Harry Fortuna

Mary Lambert – ‘She Keeps Me Warm’

This beautiful song is best known for being featured in Macklemore’s equally wonderful ‘Same Love’. From the first chords and lyrics exploring Mary Lambert’s relationship, ‘She Keeps Me Warm’ promises a soft and unapologetic ode to the beauty of queer relationships. The song tells the listener of the playful first questions the two used to get to know each other, and this exposition of a relationship is interrupted only by the repeated chorus; ‘And I can’t change, even if I tried, even if I wanted to.’

The song isn’t simply about being gay, or about being in love; it’s about the universalities of intimacy and being with someone, and I challenge anyone to be able to walk away after listening to it believing that anyone should be denied that right because of the limitations of gender or sexuality.

words by Nelly Mair 

Tyler, The Creator feat. Estelle – ‘Garden Shed’

At first glance, the choice of a Tyler, The Creator track as an LGBT+ love song is a controversial one. The California native has a chequered past when it comes to homophobia. His 2011 album Goblin uses the word ‘fag’ or ‘faggot’ nine times and has been described as ‘unambiguously homophobic’. Moreover, his regular use of the above terms on Twitter and in other lyrics has angered the gay community.

However, ‘Garden Shed’ is unmistakably Tyler, The Creator coming out. The entire track revolves around how he has previously hidden and concealed his true feelings but now is the time to set them free. A simple study of the lyrics reveals an artist stripped bare – with all his deepest feelings and emotions laid out on the table. The track is beautiful – the mellow, laidback beat perfectly complemented by the soft vocals of Estelle and the metaphorical and literal brilliance of Tyler’s lyrics. As Estelle sings “fly, baby, fly, out of the cocoon”, you get the distinct impression that this track has enabled Tyler, The Creator to do just that.

words by Tom Hills 

Hayley Kiyoko – ‘Girls Like Girls’

Until the release of this song and the rise of Hayley Kiyoko’s career, songs about women interested in women seemed to be divided into two categories; slow and mushy love songs, often about unrequited love, and pop songs fetishizing female attraction for straight girls to chant along to in clubs. This song is groundbreaking, even now. It is certifiable pop, has an amazing beat and catchy tune. Most significantly, its title and chorus normalise gay love and desire in a way that is upbeat and cheery, and offers hope to queer youths who feel ostracised for their same sex desires. Even the video is adorable, telling a beautiful story of forbidden love.

words by Nelly Mair

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