Heart On Sleeve: Modern Queer Icons

modern queer icons

Growing up a deeply closeted queer kid, I didn’t know that all it would take for me to come careening out of the closet was a visible queer hero. When I discovered underground lesbian filmmaker Sadie Benning in my teens, it was a sucker punch to my carefully constructed “straight” facade. Oh, I was queer. Oh, I was a weirdo. Oh, I’m really OK with that. I’d spend the next decade gently coming out to various people in my life and discovering underground queer hero after underground queer hero. But when I look to today’s artists, those who courageously and unabashedly wear their identities with pride, who challenge mainstream gender norms and publicly claim their queerness as undying strength, my heart sings for all the listeners who find themselves in their music — who can find pride, self-acceptance, and joy in their queerness. From Frank Ocean’s minimalist heartache to Alynda Lee Segarra’s folk outfit Hurray For The Riff Raff, from Christine and the Queen’s androgynous synth-pop to Against Me!’s transgender dysphoria blues, this mix from the class of 2015/16 reveals a queerness that’s both everything and nothing, complex and simple, political and personal.