Last night (Oct. 17), Justin Tranter put the focus on the unsung LGBTQ heroes in the music industry during his GLAAD Spirit Day concert at The Sayer’s Club in Hollywood, Calif. The showcase raised over $400,000 for the LGBTQ media advocacy group and was attended by the likes of Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds, Nick Jonas, Darren Criss and Shea Diamond.
While Tranter has become a high-profile songwriter with co-writes on tracks for Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber and Halsey, they used their showcase to highlight two other queer songwriters: Sarah Aarons and Cameron Forbes.
During the show, Tranter brought Aarons to the stage for a cover of Zedd, Maren Morris and Grey’s colossal hit “The Middle,” a song she had a hand in co-writing. The performance served as a coming out party of sorts for Aarons.
“We were talking before and she was like, ‘I don’t know if people know that I’m a lesbian.’ I was like, ‘Well now they do, sweetie. Now they all do!” Tranter said while summoning Aarons to the stage.
After her performance, rising singer Vincint tributed Aarons with a rendition of Zedd and Alessia Cara’s team-up “Stay,” another song she had a hand in writing.
Later in the evening, Tranter introduced a performance of Tyga and Offset’s “Taste” from Forbes, highlighting that the queer songwriter had co-written such a massive hip-hop hit.
“As someone that was bullied growing up, the best revenge is knowing that the people who bullied you are singing your motherfucking songs,” Forbes said before his rendition. The songwriter then invited three voguers to the stage, who treated the crowd to a performance of Teyana Taylor’s “WTP.”
Tranter admitted he initially thought “WTP” was too risque for the night given its heavy usage of the word “pussy,” but he looked back to his days fronting glam-punk band Semi-Precious Weapons. “My queer punk band was vulgar as fuck, and femme as fuck, and sexual as fuck — and we never got invited to these fancy LGBTQ events,” they said. “I had to check myself and I had to check my privilege.”
Tranter added that voguing and ballroom culture has left a major imprint on the music industry. “If you do not know how much what you just saw has influenced every single pop star since the ‘80s, do your homework and come back next year. You’ll have a lot more fun when that happens.”