Music

12 Queer Anthems From The ’90s & ’00s That You Need To Revisit For Pride Month

From RuPaul’s “Supermodel (You Better Work)” to Lily Allen’s “F*ck You.”

Performer RuPaul attends the 1995 Fall Fashion Week on April 4, 1995 at Bryant Park in New York City, New York. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images

Like those who make up the LGBTQ+ community, queer anthems cannot be defined by any single characteristic. In fact, there are many reasons queer people gravitate toward particular songs, whether their relatable lyrics recall hardships often experienced by LGBTQ+ individuals (Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors,” Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive”) and help listeners feel less alone or feature the belting chops of a big-voiced diva á la Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” Other songs receive queer anthem status for tongue-in-cheek nods to coming out (Diana Ross’s “I’m Coming Out”) or more straightforward references to gay cruising (Village People’s “YMCA”). And let’s not forget about songs like ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” and Madonna’s “Express Yourself,” which are beloved by the LGBTQ+ community for promoting unabashed happiness and celebration — feelings that many individuals strive for in situations where their sexualities aren’t embraced.

Long before Lil Nas X slid down a pole and gave Satan a lap dance in one of the gayest music videos of all time for “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name),” artists like Crystal Waters and Janet Jackson released tracks in the ’90s that reflected LGBTQ+ issues like homelessness and the AIDS crisis. Such songs allowed affected individuals to be seen at a time when their deaths were literally denied by scientists. This gave another level of importance to queer anthems that carried into the ’00s when the United States finally legalized same-sex sexual activity, and musicians like Christina Aguilera represented LGBTQ+ individuals and relationships through music videos shown on platforms like MTV.

Queer anthems have historically provided visibility for the LGBTQ+ community, and they’ll continue to do so. Just look at Lady Gaga, who became the first person ever to say the words “lesbian,” “gay,” “bi,” or “transgender” at the Super Bowl in 2017 while performing “Born This Way.” While you celebrate pride month this year, here are 12 queer anthems from the ’90s and ’00s that should be on your playlist.

Madonna, “Vogue”

Madonna has long embraced and stood up for her LGBTQ+ fanbase. After meeting José Gutiérrez Xtravaganza and Luis Xtravaganza of Harlem’s “House Ball” community, prominently featured in the 1990 film Paris Is Burning, she was inspired to bring their voguing dance style to the mainstream with her now-iconic club hit “Vogue.” She also featured the House of Xtravaganza in her Blond Ambition world tour and later on the big screen in Madonna: Truth Or Dare and has been credited with introducing the world to a subculture now represented in TV series like Pose and Legendary.

Robin S, “Show Me Love”

Not to be confused with gay icon Robyn’s 1997 hit of the same name, Robin S’s “Show Me Love” is a feel-good house track about searching for true love after a series of hardships, a concept all-too-relatable to many LGBTQ+ individuals.

CeCe Peniston, “Finally”

Similarly, this 1991 dance hit is another positive, upbeat song about “meeting Mr. Right” after a long romantic drought. Though it was her only song to reach the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, to this day, CeCe Peniston appears at pride festivals across the country to perform “Finally,” a bonafide queer anthem.

Crystal Waters, “Gypsy Woman (She’s Homeless)”

After an encounter with an unhoused woman dressed in full glam who recently lost her retail job, singer Crystal Waters was inspired to write “Gypsy Woman (She’s Homeless).” Considered one of the biggest house music classics of all time, the track aimed to raise awareness about homelessness, which LGBTQ+ youth are 120% more likely to experience in their lifetimes than non-LGBTQ+ youth, per True Colors United.

RuPaul, “Supermodel (You Better Work)”

Nearly two decades before the premiere of Drag Race, RuPaul scored his highest-charting hit song of all time with “Supermodel (You Better Work).” Telling the story of a young Black girl who aspires to be a model through its lyrics, which also reference real-life supermodels like Naomi Campbell and Linda Evangelista, the song has been widely regarded as a club classic.

Melissa Etheridge, “Come to My Window”

Not all queer anthems feature bumping dance beats. Released shortly after she came out as a lesbian on the album Yes I Am, titled as a direct response to questions about her sexuality, Melissa Etheridge’s “Come To My Window” reached the top 25 of the Billboard Hot 100 in 1994. It features the bravely empowering lyrics: “I don’t care what they think / I don’t care what they say / What do they know about this love, anyway?”

Janet Jackson, “Together Again”

Inspired by her own loss of a close friend to AIDS and a fan letter from a young boy in England who lost his father to the disease, Janet Jackson wrote “Together Again,” a touchingly-uplifting anthem that reached #1 in the United States. Featuring heart-wrenching lyrics about reuniting with lost loved ones in the afterlife, the euphoric track provides a moment of solace for those who can relate.

Cher, “Believe”

Notably the first song in existence to use Auto-Tune, Cher’s Grammy-winning joyous dance classic “Believe” is a life-changing experience every time you hear it. Cher is known for her unwavering support of the LGBTQ+ community, who has embraced the song in part for its message of overcoming challenges to achieve happiness.

Whitney Houston, “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay”

The original R&B version of “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay” is already a Whitney Houston classic, but its dance remix by production duo Thunderpuss is what elevated it to queer anthem status. By adding a shimmering club beat and emphasizing the line “I’m gonna be okay / I’m gonna be alright,” Thunderpuss perfectly crafted the track to be shouted along to on the dance floors of gay clubs for life.

Britney Spears, “Stronger”

LGBTQ+ individuals often have to muster up courage in order to live their lives, which is why the community can relate to the message of Britney Spears's “Stronger.” Written as a breakup banger, its lyrics feature Spears pushing back against those who doubt her and proving that she’s “stronger than yesterday.”

Christina Aguilera, “Beautiful”

The empowering lyrics of Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” are pretty universal, but its music video features a gay couple kissing in front of a judging crowd and a drag queen confidently embracing their identity, which wasn’t an everyday sight on TRL. It’s been embraced by the queer community for its self-love messaging and was even honored by GLAAD for its positive portrayal of LGBTQ+ people.

Lily Allen, “F*ck You”

In perhaps one of the most straightforward queer anthems ever released, UK singer Lily Allen literally says “F*ck You” to homophobes and other hateful people everywhere. Allen has said that its lyrics were written with former president George W. Bush in mind, who was famously against same-sex marriage. Nowadays, she dedicates it to Donald Trump.