It’s nearly time for 2017 to wrap up, but we can all agree that despite the bizarre happenings and frustrating climate, it was an amazing year for queer representation — specifically for women. The Emmys saw major wins for Kate McKinnon, Lena Waithe and the queer-centric episode of Black Mirror, “San Junipero.” Veteran queens like Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus and buzzy newcomers like Fletcher and Kim Petras rocked our worlds with some of the best stand-up-and-cheer moments in queerness we’ve seen over the past year — and we’ve been here for it every step of the way.
These 17 moments will give you some girl power to fuel another bright and shiny new year of inclusivity, diversity, and fearless women in the LGBTQ space.
Lady Gaga slays Super Bowl LI
Pop queen Lady Gaga stole the show at Super Bowl LI with a dazzling performance that included a tribute to America and a selection of some of her biggest hits. From leaping down to her stage and absolutely killing vocals on one of her most memorable ballads of all time, Gaga owned the crowd and captivated audiences around the world tuning into the Super Bowl, continuing to spread a message of love and acceptance, one of the biggest things we appreciate about her.
Kehlani’s queer expression in “Distraction”
Kehlani‘s sexy hit “Distraction” is packed with sexual tension and energy, but this banger isn’t about a man, as the singer explained during her appearance on Genius’s video series “Verified.” “I was talking to this girl and I was like, it’s cool to have a little thing but right now I’m so in my vibe like I can’t even like, so you got to be a distraction but you really can’t take away from what I got going on,” Kehlani explained in the video, explaining to the publication later on that she doesn’t feel the need to specifically state whether she’s speaking of a man or woman in her songs since she feels attraction to both men and women. “Distraction” is an honest account of her vibing with a woman, but not letting her take the spotlight and knock her off her game.
Fletcher isn’t wasting any more time
Fletcher’s single “Wasted Youth” sounds like a downer if you go by the title, but it’s actually an anthem about falling in love, being young, and savoring every single moment of it all. The LGBTQ-focused music video captures all of this quite well, and Fletcher captured her intentions for the video quite nicely when speaking to Billboard about it: “There’s definitely been a shift with my generation that we aren’t so quick to box ourselves into labels, and I feel like people have a lot more freedom in their expression of their sexuality and gender.”
Halsey and Lauren Jauregui become “Strangers”
Halsey and Fifth Harmony‘s Lauren Jauregui teamed up for the queer breakup anthem “Strangers” on Halsey’s hopeless fountain kingdom, and it was everything one could have hoped for in terms of a real, unapologetic song about two women who continue to long for one another at the end of a relationship. It’s no coincidence that the track was on Halsey’s album, which was the first female album to hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in 2017. It’s not only forlorn and relatable, but it’s a gorgeous ballad that makes copious use of “she/her” pronouns so you know exactly what the story’s about.
Demi Lovato opens up about her sexuality
Demi Lovato’s YouTube documentary Simply Complicated covered some intimate ground for the pop star after she was photographed earlier this year holding hands with DJ/producer Lauren Abedini while hanging out at Disneyland. When some fans criticized her for not coming out with her sexuality, she reminded them to watch the film, during which Demi states that is simply “open to human connection, so whether that’s through a male or female, it doesn’t matter to me.” Lovato took charge of her own narrative here, in a healthy and tasteful way, and with that kind of outlook Lovatics should definitely be proud. In a year where it seemed the world was determined to bring her down, Demi brought light and positivity wherever she went, even bringing Virginia’s first openly transgender elected official, Danica Roem, with her to the AMAs as her date. You may continue to slay, Demi.
Tegan and Sara pull off The Con X
It’s been a fantastic year for pop darlings Tegan and Sara, with the duo launching The Con X, commemorating the album that really put them on the map. The band’s success from the original release of The Con reminded us that these two queer women have a lot to say, and an even bigger platform these days to say it with. The Con X, aside from being a celebration of the duo’s 10th anniversary of their breakthrough LP, featured a selection of amazingly talented artists like PVRIS’ Lynn Gunn, Mykki Blanco, and MUNA performing covers of Tegan and Sara tunes. Name a more iconic duo.
The xx says something loving
Romy Madley Croft of The xx had a particularly amazing year, with the release of the critically-acclaimed album I See You. The album debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, with sweet love songs like “Say Something Loving” and “Brave for You.” After a gorgeous SNL performance that found the group performing tracks from I See You helped bring them to prominence, we started seeing a whole lot more of the band this year as well. Croft also recently became engaged earlier this year to girlfriend Hannah Marshall. It’s great to see Croft as an openly gay singer helping to make sure love stories like the ones shown in the music video for “Say Something Loving,” and The xx shows no signs of stopping any time soon.
Kelela plays “Truth or Dare”
Kelela’s Take Me Apart is a sensual journey where the R&B singer asserts herself and her queerness, doffing moments of censorship and being up front with what she wants to do with her lover: “Could you lick it back? I need more,” she breathes in “Truth or Dare.” All bets are off, and she’s ready to play. Beyond this iconic bop, Take Me Apart released this past October to overwhelmingly positive praise and the release landing on over 23 different top album lists of 2017. It’s been called “restlessly innovative” and penned from a “woman who knows what she wants, and clearly aims to write anthems for fans feeling the same way.” Kelela has a fantastic 2018 ahead of her, that’s for sure.
Fever Ray goes to the moon and back
In Fever Ray’s first release since 2010, Karin Dreijer Andersson awakes as a bald, clown-faced version of herself as she cavorts with beautiful women in the strange video for “To The Moon And Back,” which is an unapologetic, uptempo slice of pop that finds Karin singing around “running her fingers” along her partner’s most private of areas. The video is absolutely full of erotic energy, and there’s no mistaking who Karin is lusting after when it all comes to a head.
St. Vincent reminisces about lost love in New York
St. Vincent’s downtempo ballad “New York” is a woeful track that elicits some of the most addictive kinds of lost love you’ve ever heard of, and in fact many hypothesize it was written about model and actress Cara Delevingne, one of Annie’s most famous flings. Clearly she had her heart broken somehow in one of the most mournful ways possible, leaving “New York” one of the most relatable tracks off of Masseduction and a queer breakup anthem for the times. “New York isn’t New York without you, love,” Vincent croons. Right in the feels.
Kim Petras gets her own Spotify takeover
Spotify launched its new RISE program meant to help identify and break out new music stars with one particularly amazing pop star: Kim Petras, a transgender German artist who transitioned at a very early age. Her slick and glossy pop is taking over Spotify, and it’s refreshing to see such a large platform being given to a transgender artist who also just happens to totally slay. She’s getting the attention she deserves, and if you haven’t heard her work yet, you certainly will be hearing it in the future.
Miley releases pansexual narrative-soaked “She’s Not Him”
Miley Cyrus’ sweeping return to her country roots on Younger Now allowed her to pen a narrative that took an approach to pansexual love. The mournful anthem was an authentic and honest appraisal of a relationship that was serious, but ultimately doomed to last as “she’s not him.” Miley gave a voice to groups who are criminally underrepresented in music, and this moment allowed her to express her queerness in a way that we hadn’t seen a lot of from the country chameleon in some time.
Hayley Kiyoko shares all her feelings
Hayley already wowed us with the super-sweet “Girls Like Girls,” a homage to all the girls who “like girls like boys do.” In “Feelings,” she goes after the girl she’s had her eye on for some time and shows off some sexy dance moves in the pursuit of her new love. It’s undeniably moving to see how she “can’t help but care” when trying to talk to her crush. Who hasn’t been there? We think you’re communicating perfectly well, Hayley. And just in case you thought it was all a ruse, Hayley directed the video herself. We already knew she was talented, but that’s just the icing on the cake.
MUNA goes on tour with Harry Styles
Harry Styles announced that he’d be bringing dark-pop trio MUNA on his tour through North America and Europe earlier this year, and we couldn’t have been happier to hear the news. With all three members of the band identifying as queer, this is certainly a victory for representation, and with star power like Harry Styles backing MUNA, this is a huge win for MUNA in general as well as their listeners.?
Bebe Huxley proclaims she’s a Scorpio
Bebe Huxley’s unique brand of pop is performance art in itself, and certainly “Scorpio” is a song you won’t soon forget. Bebe rejects any notion of normality and embraces her queer sexuality in the song “Scorpio” as well as the video, and it’s a force to be reckoned with, both thematically and as a victory for non-binary folks out there.
Kesha paints with the colors of the rainbow
Kesha’s new album Rainbow is full of uplifting tunes, but “Rainbow” in particular made a splash when it debuted, a rallying, anthemic ballad about coming out and living a life that’s true to yourself, despite what others may think. Kesha is an avid advocate of the LGBTQ community, and this shines through beautifully in this heartfelt track that Kesha actually wrote on a toy keyboard while in rehab.
Sophie gets real and emotional
Singer/songwriter, producer, and DJ Sophie Long has long been known by her stage name Sophie, and has produced artists like Madonna and Charli XCX. Typically she’s preferred to stay out of the public eye, though she made the decision to come out of the shadows with this particular track. In her first ever video without her face obscured and her entire beautiful face and neck exposed, Sophie assures us that it’s okay to cry, in a courageous display of ethereal music video-making. Sophie shares every bit of herself with us, and it’s just as gorgeous as we could have imagined.