A reminder: culture wouldn’t exist without the contributions of the LGBTQ+ community. From behind the scenes to in front of cameras and mics, they’ve forged paths through sports, dance, and music both mainstream and indie. This is even more impressive given the immense pushback they’ve received, and continue to experience. The Hays Code guiding early films meant that references to homosexuality were heavily coded. Likewise, musicians often changed pronouns in lyrics rather than risk radio censure, or simply bypassed mainstream media all together in favor of creating underground non-closeted spaces. So much for being given the freedom to be here, queer and well…you get the idea.
But the gears of change are slowly grinding. With artists like Hayley Kiyoko and Years and Years singling about the gender of their paramours, Laura Jane Grace and Kim Petras crafting acceptance anthems, and Janelle Monae defining her sexuality as being a “free-ass motherfucker,” visibility—and respect—for the LGBTQ+ community’s contributions is growing.
Here, for your binging pleasure, are a few of our favorite stories from our own past celebrating the community’s most exciting creators.
Serpentwithfeet – “Cherubim” video
Serpentwithfeet’s 2018 debut “soil” was riddled with standout moments, including album jewel “Cherubim,” a spectral, R&B gospel ode to losing yourself in a partner. In the video from director Allie Avital, the musician finds himself in a dilapidated house, dancing and cuddling with a lover in a scene that borrows heavily from renaissance paintings, fashion editorials and Avant-garde theater, creating an otherworldly collision of love, lust, and devotion.
JaQuel Knight Foundation is here to make a difference
With the pandemic stopping most creative industries dead in their tracks, JaQuel Knight was worried about his friends’ ability to support themselves. That’s when Beyoncé, Pharrell, and Megan Thee Stallion’s favorite chorographer got to work. His foundation has raised over $200,000 aimed at helping dancers stay in the game until they can strut across the stage again—and hopefully change a few minds about the value of artists in the process.
“Vogue Virgin” follows voguer Travii Mizrahi’s ballroom debut at “Red Bull Presents: ATL is Burning Ball in Atlanta.” Featuring a special appearance from Andre Mizrahi—the Father of House of Mizrahi—the seven-minute journey is a must for any “Pose” fan craving more time on the dancefloor. The category is: Spectacular with just a dash of sentimental.
Snail Mail’s Three Pieces of Advice
Turns out Lindsey Jordan isn’t just good at crafting emotionally tinged-guitar rock. The Snail Mail mastermind is also incredibly thoughtful in the way she moves through life. From the creative process, to dating, to body image, here’s three pieces of advice that she’s actually used—and hopefully you will too.
Momentum: Chicago’s Queer Underground
"Momentum: Chicago’s Queer Underground"
Chicago is home to house music—and some of the best drag queens to ever dust on a layer of glitter. Keeping the city of broad shoulders a place for outsiders is a series of collectives, featuring musicians, actors, designers, and dancers who create record labels, parties, and events like Queen, The Futurehood, and Party Noire. Their goal: to create inclusive art that’s non-heteronormative, minority focused, and fun.
SOPHIE – “Ponyboy”
It’s almost difficult to believe there was time when SOPHIE was considered an enigma. But in December 2017, the producer released her second-ever onscreen performance, a dance routine to what would eventually become Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides’ “Ponyboy.” Filmed as part of Red Bull Music Academy Festival Los Angeles’ Open Beta Series, with the assistance of performance duo FlucT, the clip features SOPHIE onstage the way we’d like to remember her, full of color, joy, and life. (Note: this video contains flashing lights.)
"Inspire The Night: Batekoo"
If a corner of Brazil’s nightlife prismatic blur includes an air of inclusivity, it’s the Afrocentric dance party collective Batekoo they have to thank. That’s no small task, though, given the high rate of LGBTQ+ violence faced by the country. However, the Salvador-based founders are dedicated to maintaining low-cost spaces where party-goers can enjoy the life they love through the fashion, music, and art that speaks to them the most.
pineappleCITI Artist to Watch
Red Bull may have called pineappleCITI an artist to watch in 2019—but rest assured the recommendation remains true in 2021. The perennially perky, “Fresh Prince”-obsessed artist remains an example of positivity. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been marginalized, you can still be exactly who you want to be.
Sheopatra and YoE Apolinario are quite possibly dance’s coolest power couple. Collectively, the pair have worked with Missy Elliot, Pharrell, Taylor Swift, Cardi B, and Backstreet Boys. On Instagram, they’ve used the power of dance to protest police brutality, amplify marginalized voices, and create art that supports the ongoing activism efforts, proving that together they can do pretty much anything.
Sprint champ Kaylin Whitney: Be Yourself. Beat The Competition.
"Sprint champ Kaylin Whitney: Be Yourself. Beat The Competition."
"We celebrate world record-holding youth sprint champion Kaylin Whitney, who through running found the strength to come out - and dominate the track in the process."