LGBT Musicians of the 90s

When starting this blog, I originally focused on the 60s and 70s, but I’ve since expanded to talking about the 80s and 90s as that’s now considered classic rock. Generally speaking, when 30 years have passed since a decade, that decade is now considered classic rock. Time has flown and it means that I can’t avoid talking about the 90s anymore.

My LGBT musicians of the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s post is still to this day the most popular post in my blog’s history and it’s only right that I make a sequel for the 90s. Without further ado, LGBT musicians of the 90s!

If you want to check out other LGBT related posts check out my posts on LGBT themed songs of the 60s, 70s, and 80s and my post on classic rock musicians in drag.

Ani DiFranco – bisexual – Folk/alternative singer-songwriter who started her career in the early 90s. Throughout her music career, she has done activism for the anti-war, pro-choice, feminist, environmentalist, music education, and pro-LGBT causes. She’s always been an independent musician, starting her own record label called Righteous Babe Records because she’s a progressive who takes an anti-corporate stance and she wanted artistic freedom, which a major record label would never give her. All of her albums are released through her own label.

She came out as bisexual in the 90s and has written love songs about men and women. Her song “In Or Out” talks about her sexuality. Here’s a lyric from that song:

Some days the line I walk turns out to be straight. Other days the line tends to deviate. I’ve got no criteria for sex or race. I just want to hear your voice. I just want to see your face”

Billie Joe Armstrong – bisexual – Lead vocalist, songwriter, and lead guitarist of Green Day. He came out as bisexual in 1995 in an interview with The Advocate, saying this:

“I think I’ve always been bisexual. I mean, it’s something that I’ve always been interested in. I think people are born bisexual, and it’s just that our parents and society kind of veer us off into this feeling of ‘Oh, I can’t.’ They say it’s taboo. It’s ingrained in our heads that it’s bad, when it’s not bad at all. It’s a very beautiful thing.”

In later interviews, he’s said that he doesn’t like to confine himself to a label. Green Day’s 1994 major label debut, Dookie, touches on the topic of bisexuality, for example on the song “Coming Clean” – which talks about his experiences of being a bisexual teenager.

Billie Myers – bisexual – One hit wonder known for the 1997 hit, “Kiss the Rain”. She is openly bisexual and has spoken about her struggles with not feeling “gay enough”. In 2009, she sang “America The Beautiful” at the National Equality March in Washington DC. At that time, President Obama didn’t (publicly) support marriage equality and she criticised him for not talking about marriage equality and the fact that many states at the time were trying to outright ban same sex marriage. It’s very common for politicians to not stand up and do the right thing and only support policies when it’s politically convenient or popular.

Brett Anderson – bisexual – Lead vocalist and lyricist of Britpop group, Suede. In the 90s, he had a trademark androgynous appearance. Of his bisexuality, he described himself in the 90s as “a bisexual man who has yet to have a homosexual experience.”

Brian Molko – bisexual – Lead vocalist and guitarist of Placebo. He grew up in a strict family who had expectations of him to become a banker, but he was a rebel who liked to wear makeup, nail polish, eyeliner, and listen to punk music.

Chris Xefos – gay – Multi-instrumentalist, producer, and former member of avant-garde band King Missile.

Cris Bonacci – lesbian – Lead guitarist for heavy metal band Girlschool and session musician. She has dated model, actress, and singer Samantha Fox.

Corin Tucker – bisexual – Singer-songwriter and guitarist best known for her work in Heavens to Betsy and Sleater-Kinney. She came out at the age of 19 and dated bandmate Carrie Brownstein in the early years of Sleater-Kinney. She wrote “One More Hour” about her breakup with her ex-girlfriend.

Debbie Googe – lesbian – Bassist for My Bloody Valentine from 1985-1996. She is originally from Somerset and moved to London in the mid 80s. Her ex-girlfriend recommended her as a bassist to My Bloody Valentine members Kevin Shields and Colm Ó Ciosóig.

Deborah Dyer (Skin) – bisexual – Lead vocalist of Britrock band Skunk Anansie. She came out as bisexual in the mid 90s.

Gretchen Phillips – lesbian – Folk/riot grrrl singer songwriter. She has been openly lesbian throughout her life and her identity inspires a lot of her music. One of her most famous songs is “I Spent My Last $10.00 (on Birth Control and Beer)”, which is a satire of heterosexual relationships. Here are the opening lyrics to the song:

“When I was a young girl like normal girls do
I looked to a woman’s love to help get me through
I never needed any more than a feminine touch
I hated the thought of kissing a man it really was too much”

Jill Sobule – bisexual – Singer-songwriter best known for her 1995 hit “I Kissed A Girl” – considered much better than Katy Perry’s 2008 hit, which was a completely different song.

In a 2009 interview with The Rumpus, Sobule made this tongue in cheek comment about Katy Perry’s song:

“When Katy Perry’s song came out I started getting tons of inquiries about what I thought. Some folks (and protective friends) were angry, and wondered why she took my title and made it into this kind of “girls gone wild” thing….

“As a musician I have always refrained from criticising another artist. I was, “Well, good for her.” It did bug me a little bit, however, when she said she came up with the idea for the title in a dream. In truth, she wrote it with a team of professional writers and was signed by the very same guy that signed me in 1995. I have not mentioned that in interviews as I don’t want to sound bitter or petty…

“Okay, maybe, if I really think about it, there were a few jealous and pissed-off moments. So here goes, for the first time in an interview: Fuck you Katy Perry, you fucking stupid, maybe ‘not good for the gays,’ title-thieving, haven’t heard much else, so not quite sure if you’re talented, fucking little slut.

God that felt good.”

John Grant – gay – Lead vocalist of The Czars. He was raised in an Orthodox Methodist family and found it at odds with his sexual orientation. In secondary school he was often bullied. As a musician he sings about life events and experiences that shaped his life.

For a time, he lived in Germany. His goal there was to be a translator because he’s a polyglot speaks German, Russian, Spanish, and Icelandic. He can also speak a little French and Swedish. He lives in Iceland, where his boyfriend his from. He likes to keep his romantic life private and has not revealed the name of his boyfriend.

He was diagnosed as HIV positive in 2011. Of his diagnosis he said:

“In my particular situation it’s not very pleasant to have to admit that the fact I have HIV is because I was living in a fantasy world where I didn’t matter at all,”

“I was messing around with my life and indulging in destructive behaviours and ended up getting a disease that could have totally been avoided. When I look at the fact that there are millions of children in Africa with HIV, who never got to choose, it makes me need to figure out why I let that happen to myself. That song is saying all those things.”

He said this about his health in that same interview with the Sydney Morning Herald:

“I don’t have anything to complain about. You get used to taking the meds every day and you barely even notice it. But of course, if you stop taking them then you die, so that’s something that stays with you.”

He wrote the song, “Disappointing”, as an ode to his boyfriend, who he refers to as the Icelandic graphic designer.

Jónsi – gay – Vocalist and multi-instrumentalist for Sigur Rós. He has a side project with his partner, Alex Somers. He also advocates for the environment and for animal rights. He said this about being a vegetarian:

“I just love animals and I do not want to kill them, cook them or eat them so it’d be hard for me to watch anyone do that.”

Josephine Wiggs – lesbian – Bassist for The Breeders and The Perfect Disaster. She dated Kate Schellenbach.

Lance Bass – gay – One of the members of boy band NSYNC. He came out as gay in 2006 in a cover story for People magazine. Before that, the paparazzi spotted him outside gay bars and clubs. He said this in People magazine about his coming out:

“The thing is, I’m not ashamed – that’s the one thing I want to say. I don’t think it’s wrong, I’m not devastated going through this. I’m more liberated and happy than I’ve been my whole life. I’m just happy.”

His coming out got a lot of media attention and he got a lot of support from NSYNC fans, but he was criticised for referring to himself as “straight-acting”, which perpetuates gay stereotypes and perpetuates marginalisation of gay men who act more feminine.

Laura Jane Grace – transgender – Founder, lead singer, songwriter, and guitarist for punk group Against Me!, formed in 1997. She was one of the first highly visible punk rock musicians to come out as transgender, when she came out in May 2012. Growing up in the closet was difficult for her because transsexualism was something that she was taught by society to be ashamed of and to hide. Before her transition, she felt like she was putting on an act of “angry white man in a punk band”. She’s also a vegan!

She chose her name based on this: Laura was the name she would have been given if she were assigned female at birth, Jane was a fitting middle name that she liked, and Grace is her mother’s maiden name. She’s said that she doesn’t want to just be known as that trans punk rocker, but treated like any other musician:

“I don’t want to be just that transgender performer or that transgender musical artist. I want to create songs and art and have those be judged on their merit alone.”

In 2014, Against Me! released the album, Transgender Dysphoria Blues.

k.d. lang – lesbian – Pop and country singer-songwriter from Canada. She has collaborated with Roy Orbison, Tony Bennett, Elton John, Anne Murray, Ann Wilson, and Jane Siberry. She even performed at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary and the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

She came out as lesbian in June 1992 in an article in The Advocate. Since then, she has been a vocal LGBT rights advocate. She is also an animal rights advocate and long time vegetarian.

Kate Schellenbach – lesbian – Drummer of Luscious Jackson and founding member of The Beastie Boys. She at one point dated Josephine Wiggs.

Kathleen Hanna – bisexual – Riot Grrrl pioneer, punk scene writer, and lead vocalist of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre. She came up with the title of the Nirvana hit “Smells Like Teen Spirit” when she wrote “Kurt smells like Teen Spirit” on Kurt Cobain’s wall. She co-wrote “Baby Blue” (which is about bisexuality), with Joan Jett.

Kurt Cobain – (possibly) bisexual – Nirvana frontman. Doesn’t really need any introduction. In the 90s he said a few things about his sexuality in interviews. When asked if he was gay, he answered “If I wasn’t attracted to Courtney, I’d be a bisexual.” He also said he identified with the gay community. He revealed that as a kid he felt different and liked to crossdress.

He’s used the following phrases and would write them on things: “God is gay”, “Jesus is gay”, “Homosexual sex rules”, and “Everyone is gay”.

He was always very vocal about his support of the gay community. One of his most famous quotes was this:

“If any of you in any way hate homosexuals, people of different colour, or women, please do this one favour for us—leave us the fuck alone! Don’t come to our shows and don’t buy our records.”

Linda Perry – lesbian – Singer-songwriter who has written hits like “Beautiful” for Christina Aguilera, “What Are You Waiting For?” for Gwen Stefani, and “Get The Party Started” for Pink. In the 90s, she was in 4 Non Blondes. At a performance at the 1994 Billboard Music Awards, she reclaimed the d-slur and displayed it on her guitar. She told The Advocate:

“All my life I’ve loved women, and that’s it. I’ve never been any other way”

Mark Weigle – gay – Singer songwriter who recorded albums from the late 90s to the late 2000s. He always marketed himself as a gay writer and musician. In 2003, he won 3 Outmusic Awards and was nominated for 5.

Martin Sorrondeguy – gay – Singer for hardcore punk bands such as Los Crudos and Limp Wrist. He was born in Uruguay and raised in Chicago. In his music for Los Crudos, he would sing about issues Latinos face in America and released songs in English and Spanish. Limp Wrist are a queercore band and many of their lyrics cover themes concerning the gay community.

Mel B – bisexual – Scary Spice in the Spice Girls. She has been in relationships with men and women. When she was in a relationship with Christine Crokos, people made assumptions about her experimenting or being lesbian, but she said this in response to those comments:

“It wasn’t experimentation. I fell in love with a woman for five years. An experiment doesn’t last five years. People call me lesbian, bisexual or heterosexual, but I know who’s in my bed and that’s it. I have a huge libido and a great sex life.”

She once hooked up with bandmate Geri Halliwell, aka Ginger Spice.

Melissa Etheridge – lesbian – Grammy winning singer-songwriter, activist, and one of the most famous lesbian musicians. She came out as lesbian in 1993 at the Triangle Ball. Besides advocating for LGBT rights, she advocates for environmental issues and the legalisation of marijuana.

Melissa Ferrick – lesbian – Singer-songwriter who taught herself how to play guitar. Her career took off when she opened for Morrissey. “Drive” is considered a lesbian anthem

Michael Stipe – doesn’t like labels – Lead vocalist and songwriter for R.E.M. His singing style influenced Kurt Cobain and Thom Yorke. Bono is a huge fan, saying that he’s his favourite lyricist. On his sexuality, he described himself as an “equal opportunity lech”. He doesn’t label himself as gay or bisexual, but rather, queer if anything. He’s been in relationships with both men and women.

Patty Schemel – lesbian – Drummer of alternative rock band Hole. She joined Hole in 1992 and Kurt Cobain recommended her to Courtney Love when she said she was looking for a new drummer. She came out as lesbian when she was a teenager and said that punk and rock music helped her find herself and said that it’s a place where you can be whoever you want to be. Her early influences are Echo & The Bunnymen, AC/DC, and Wire.

Peaches – bisexual – Electroclash musician who first started recording under her real name Merrill Nisker, under which she released her 1995 debut, Fancypants Hoodlum. Her career didn’t take off until the early 2000s when she moved to Germany and started touring Europe. Her music is provocative and has sexual themes and will sometimes have lyrics about gender identity and playing with gender roles. On the cover of Fatherfucker, she is wearing a beard. Of her bisexuality she said this in an interview with Attitude:

“I remember watching a movie and it had a scene with a bunch of women touching each other, and I felt funny in my pants. I’m bisexual. I like women, I like men, I like combinations, and it’s all good to me.”

Ricky Martin – gay – He’s known as the King of Latin Pop. He got his start in boy band Menudo at the age of 12 and had a successful solo career in the 90s and early 2000s, making him one of the best selling Latin music artists of all time. You’d know him for the songs “Cup of Life” and “Livin’ La Vida Loca”.

There were rumours for a long time that he was gay because he had a huge gay fanbase. In 2000, Barbara Walters asked an inappropriate question that put him on the spot to out himself. One decade later, he came out as gay on his official website, making this statement:

“I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man. I am very blessed to be who I am.”

Simon Fowler – gay – Ocean Colour Scene frontman. He came out in the late 90s. He said the following about growing up gay:

“I just realised that I fancied boys and the thought had never crossed my mind until then. I didn’t get picked on at school or anything and I didn’t know anyone else who was gay.”

 

“Neither of us got any useful advice about being gay. A record company once told me I should see a psychiatrist and Robert [his partner] was told at school he should talk to the Samaritans about it. Ten years ago being gay wasn’t cool like it is today. Then Aids was rife and everyone was pretty scared.”

Sinéad O’Connor – bisexual – Irish singer-songwriter best known for her version of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U”. She is very outspoken and has spoken about religion, a united Ireland, women’s rights, war, and child abuse.

One of her most famous controversies was her 1992 SNL performance which she made a platform of to protest against sexual abuse of children in the Catholic Church. She held up a picture of the Pope and tore it, shouting “Evil!” and said “fight the real enemy”. The producers of the show had no idea she was going to do that and the network got hundreds of calls complaining. One decade later, in an interview with Salon, she said she had no regrets about that performance.

She has been in relationships with men and women and in interviews she has identified herself as a lesbian, but later said it was overcompensating of her to describe herself that way and that she doesn’t like to fit herself in a confining box.

Stefan Olsdal – gay – Bassist/guitarist for Placebo. He came out in a 1996 Melody Maker interview.

Stephen Gately – gay – Co-lead singer of Boyzone. He came out in 1999. He and his husband were the first gay couple in a boy band music video – appearing in the music video for “Better” by Boyzone. He died in 2009 of an undiagnosed heart condition.

Tegan & Sara Quin – lesbian – Identical twin indie pop duo. They released their debut, Under Feet Like Ours, in 1999. The following year, they signed to Neil Young’s Vapor Records and released The Business of Art.  Their influences include Nirvana, Green Day, Hole, Smashing Pumpkins, Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Madonna, Kate Bush, David Bowie, and Ani DiFranco, among others.

They started their own foundation to improve the lives of LGBT women and girls. Here’s an interesting interview from 2012 on Tegan’s views on Pride and marriage equality.

“Hey, I’m Just Like You” is considered a lesbian anthem.

Shoutout to my friends Patrick and Matt for supporting the blog!

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