30 Gay Love Songs: Frank Ocean, Troye Sivan, Kele Okereke & More
From Troye Sivan to Kele Okereke, it’s time to celebrate gay artists and same-sex love.
Finally. Gay narratives are getting their just desserts in the world of mainstream music. There’s a wave of talented acts storming out of the LGBTQ community who aren’t just gay, but also queer, bisexual and sexually fluid as well.
While trailblazers like Adam Lambert, Troye Sivan and Frank Ocean have each made inroads for other queer male artists after them, there’s an entire generation of stars sweeping the music industry with stories of their own. Our gay love soundtrack, below, is evidentiary of the eargasmic quality of male-on-male romance and sexual identity.
From emotional showcases by Perfume Genius, to bedroom ballads by morgxn, to somber serenades by Wrabel, these 30 gay love tunes pay a beautiful homage to gay love culture. Follow the playlist below.
Related: Top LGBTQ Anthems | Modern LGBTQ Anthems | Lesbian Love Songs | Songs That Celebrate Bisexuality | Lesbian & Queer-Woman Fronted Bands | Transgender & Non-Binary Artists | Music Videos with LGBTQ Themes | Songs About Gender Identity
Kele Okereke, “Yemaya”
In “Yemaya,” the Bloc Party frontman pulls listeners into an oceanic escape. Destination: the motherland. With soft strumming bass rhythms and waves of an acoustic arpeggio, Okereke’s calming voice on this track has never sounded so crystal clear.
Years & Years, “Memo”
On “Memo,” Olly Alexander tries to convince his lover to continue their secret affair, though, due to the distance brought on by these circumstances, he’s unsure how long it will last. A powering tale that recounts the ending of an affair between two men, this song encapsulates the sort of forbidden love many have come to know.
morgxn, “love you with the lights on”
Morgxn leaves little to the imagination on “Love you with the lights on,” an honest, open-armed serenade perfect for body-to-body contact, if you ask us. Charismatic and enchanting, the LA-bred singer’s bedroom banger sounds like an outtake from a Fifty Shades soundtrack.
Frank Ocean, “Forrest Gump”
Frank Ocean’s “Forrest Gump” makes good on its namesake with an endearing, runaway love story. Anyone who’s ever loved then lost a partner will understand Ocean’s beautiful imploration and admiration over the captivating chorus.
Disclosure (feat. Sam Smith), “Latch”
Disclosure’s infectious collab with Sam Smith is intoxicating for its lyrical brilliance and gripping chorus. Aside from the song’s trancy notes, Smith’s yearning croons perfectly captures that euphoric feeling recognized as love at first sight.
A resounding eulogy for his former self, Wrabel’s “Bloodstain” attempts to salvage the pieces of a failed relationship and a broken heart in this bruised ballad. Picking himself off the ground, the singer comes to accept the fact that these unfortunate trials are nothing but small stepping stones to something better.
SAKIMA, “Ur Bdy”
This sweat-dripping boogie by SAKIMA doesn’t dance around the subject of what should and shouldn’t be said out loud. Once this dance floor jam begins to play, chances are there won’t be much more talking going on anyway if you know what we mean.
Adam Lambert, “If I Had You”
A perfect pre-game party record, Adam Lambert’s “If I Had You” taps into the singer’s hottest fantasies of claiming a guy all for himself. And quite honestly, we’ve all experienced the feeling of wanting to bring that guy back home from the club.
Troye Sivan, “YOUTH”
The breakout that made Troye Sivan a young hitter upon his arrival in 2015, “Youth” is a beautiful sacrament to finding love at all costs. The singer’s willingness to let down his walls in the name of love is an encouraging, selfless act we can all aspire to emulate.
Tyler, The Creator, “Garden Shed”
Californian wordsmith Tyler, The Creator’s 2017 album Flower Boy in itself was a perfumed proposal and coming of age confessional that also insinuated the hip-hop star’s bisexuality. In the self-addressed love letter “Garden Shed” preluded by melodies courtesy of Estelle, the rapper uses poignant imagery to step out of his comfort zone in more ways than one.
MIKA, “Make You Happy”
MIKA has one goal in mind: make his partner happy. This feel-good, synth-bumping ditty will have you up on your feet in no time.
A Great Big World (feat. Futuristic), “Hold Each Other”
“Hold Each Other” is an anthem that preaches love for all. Switching up the hetero-narrative chorus in the song’s second verse is A Great Big World member Chad King (who is openly gay), who croons, “Something happens when I hold him/ He keeps my heart from getting broken.”
Neon Trees, “Sleeping With a Friend”
The pop-rock band’s most electrifying hit to date will have you out of your clothes sooner than you know it. Of all their successes, “Sleeping With a Friend” showcases Tyler Glenn’s vocals at its most addictive peak.
Vampire Weekend, “Diplomat’s Son”
On “Diplomat’s Son,” gay Vampire Weekend songwriter Rostam Batmanglij croons about falling head over heels for one of his close friends and all the emotions leading up to the call to arms. Leaving little the imagination concerning that event, Batmanglij sings: “That night I smoked a joint / With my best friend / We found ourselves in bed / When I woke up he was gone / He was a diplomat’s son / It was ‘81.”
Blood Orange, “Better Than Me”
The mystique of Dev Hynes (the brains behind Blood Orange) is undeniable on “Better Than Me,” which Carly Rae Jepsen assists on the calming chorus. While the sexually fluid star croons of feeling not queer or black enough, there also seems to be a semblance of self-love and independence as well.
Perfume Genius, “Die 4 U”
This oozing, erotic serenade by Mike Haedras of Perfume Genius is what we’d imagine good sex sounds like in electronic piano form. Fused together with Haedras’ coaxing whispers and tantalizing falsetto, “Die 4 U” is a sexual surrender on the brink of a climax.
Sam Smith, “Lay Me Down”
What would a gay love soundtrack be without Sam Smith’s “Lay Me Down”? A beautiful and promising request made ideal for those walking down the aisle, Smith creates the perfect song for those wanting to spend the rest of their lives with their lover.
Vardaan Arora, "Like A Polaroid"
Looking to find love in the club tonight? Hit the dance floor with this body-to-body banger by Vardaan Arora and thank us later.
Scissor Sisters, “Baby Come Home”
Timing is everything in the churchy track “Baby Come Home.” In it, vocalist Jake Shears of Scissor Sisters airs out his frustrations over the absence of his fleeting lover, whom he spends his time waiting up for till the wee hours of the night.
Trey Pearson, “Love is Love”
The former Christian rock crooner makes his breakout with a unifying statement in “Love is Love,” an all-encompassing message of self-acceptance for every dark horse of the LGBTQ community.
Leon Else, “What I Won’t Do For Love”
One-night stand? Think again. This British darling is in no hurry to sell his soul — or his body, for that matter — on “What I Won’t Do For Love.” Albeit fated to another lonely night, Leon Else has high hopes and even higher standards for the one who shares his bedspace.
Alfie Arcuri, “If They Only Knew”
In “If They Only Knew,” Arcuri, the winner of last year’s The Voice Australia competition, pens a heartfelt confessional torn straight from the pages of a well-used diary. As the singer wonders what it might be like to act on his tendencies with an unattainable lover, the song works as a remarkable disclosure of something much more complicated than it seems.
Benny, “Never Apart”
A hand-in-hand declaration to the partner whom he serenades, Benny breaks not a single promise to his lover on the sonically cohesive lullaby “Never Apart.” With the emotional energy reminiscent of a shotgun love, this dream bop burns with good rhythms and even better vibes.
Kadie Elder, “First Time He Kissed a Boy”
There’s a first time for everything, and that includes locking lips with the same sex. Together, pop duo Kadie Elder rewrite that indescribable sexual awakening in this delightful dance ditty.
Planning a getaway? Whether you’re planning a much-needed vacation or your next red light special this evening, be sure to put MNEK’s climactic R&B escape on your playlist.
Justin Michael Williams, “Here With Me”
This falsetto trip by Justin Michael Williams is sincere, intoxicating and pouring with soft melodies. In just a handful of verses, Williams comes apart at the seams with this vulnerable S.O.S.
Brandon Stansell, “Slow Down”
Love, like honey, is slow and sweet in “Slow Down.” At its peak, Brandon Stansell’s stripped-down country ballad is a testament for easygoing tenderness.
The Hound, “Can’t Let You Go”
Sticking by its namesake, John Constantine can’t let go of his ex-lover, even if that means giving in to his guilty pleasures. Constantine’s hot-blooded hit strikes a chord with the idea that even mortals are no match against their carnal desires.
Kele Okereke and Olly Alexander, “Grounds for Resentment”
Two queer rising stars in music collide over light piano grooves on “Grounds for Resentment,” a record laden with hard truths and old flames being blown out, making it a master class in closure.
Oscar and the Wolf, “Runaway”
What transpires in “Runaway” is a sonically disarming cautionary tale of what it means to give in to the forces of forbidden fruit. The lovers in this song become spliced by their own juxtaposing desires, for better or for worse.
For more stories about the LGBTQ community and our fiercest allies, follow Billboard Pride on Facebook.