Equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is today's defining civil rights issue, but the music world has always played a significant role in LGBT progress. With Pride Month here, Billboard reflects on 25 musical moments that have been pivotal in advancing LGBT understanding, acceptance and rights.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Serenade 33 Gay & Straight Weddings at the Grammys with 'Same Love'
When Macklemore & Ryan Lewis took to the Grammys stage on January 26, 2014 to serenade 33 gay and straight couples being married in the audience simultaneously by Queen Latifah, the Seattle hip-hop duo elevated "Same Love" -- already a gay anthem AND hit song that rose to No. 11 on the Hot 100 -- into something even greater: a joyous live, national celebration of marriage equality. The nearly three dozen pairs of newlyweds stepped into married life with this all-star performance that also included Madonna singing "Open Your Heart," and both "Same Love" vocalist Mary Lambert and horn player Trombone Shorty lending their talents. "This song is not a love song for some of us but for all of us," said Latifah as she introduced the "Same Love" segment. In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, GLAAD called the performance "the latest in a long line of signs that our nation not only accepts, but celebrates the love and commitment of gay couples today." --Jessica Letkemann
Frank Ocean Opens Up About Sexuality
On July 4, 2012, Odd Future member and R&B artist Frank Ocean published an intimate Tumblr post explaining that his first love was a man. The declaration was initially meant to be included in the liner notes to his debut major-label album, "Channel Orange," which came out a week later, but Ocean chose to pre-emptively announce it after a British journalist speculated about the use of the pronoun "he" in love songs like "Bad Religion" and "Forrest Gump." "The night I posted it, I cried like a fucking baby," Ocean told GQ in December. "It was like all the frequency just clicked to a change in my head." (To be clear, Ocean has never publicly defined his sexuality as gay, bisexual or anything else.)
Subsequently, "Channel Orange" was lauded as a major musical accomplishment, earning album of the year at the Soul Train Awards and Grammy nods for album and record of the year, best new artist and best urban contemporary album, the lattermost of which he won-a milestone as the first openly non-straight male in hip-hop and R&B to reach mainstream acclaim. While Ocean's confession garnered support from across the industry--from Beyonce and Jay-Z to executives Russell Simmons and Joie Manda--his accolades proved that the music spoke for itself. --Julianne Escobedo Shepherd