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The Greatest Gay Icons In Music

Updated January 22, 2021 72.0k votes 8.8k voters 389.8k views66 items

List of the Greatest Gay Icons in Music, ranked by fans. Gay icons come in all shapes and sizes. Some are fiercely bold divas, while others are openly gay and work to promote LGBT-centric issues, like gay rights and same-sex marriage. Gay music icons have had successful careers in rock, pop, disco and dance music. Several gay music icons have been making great music for decades.

Who is the most famous gay icon in music? Madonna? Elton John? Britney Spears was embraced by the gay community from the moment that she emerged as a pop star, but the "Toxic" singer didn't notice until her second tour. She told Advocate Magazine, "I began to realize there were a lot of gay people coming to the shows, and they were just having so much fun, laughing, and really enjoying themselves." Britney Spears is straight and has been married twice, although she famously shared a kiss with Madonna back in 2003. Other divas who are gay music icons include Lady Gaga and Barbra Streisand.

David Bowie was embraced by the gay community when he revealed his androgynous alter-ego Ziggy Stardust. Bowie told Playboy magazine in 1976 that he was bisexual, but he later declared that he was just a closet heterosexual. He is rumored to have had a sexual relationship with Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger. Elton John is arguably the most popular gay musician in the world. He first came out as bisexual in a 1976 interview with Rolling Stoneand in 1988 he announced that he was comfortable being gay.

Have a favorite gay singer? Check out the list of icons below and vote up your favorites. You can also vote any down if you don't think they should be near the top. 

  • Photo: Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY
    Freddie Mercury may not have spoken publicly about his sexual orientation, but many people believe that he was openly gay. He was the lead singer of Queen (a slang term for gay), and he was a powerful icon in the gay community. He died of complications with AIDS in 1991. 
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    • Photo: Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY
      Elton John is arguably the most popular gay musician in the world. He first came out as a bisexual in a 1976 interview with Rolling Stone, and in 1988, he announced that he was comfortable being gay. John has been in a relationship with David Furnish since 1993, and the couple has two children together.
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      • Photo: Metaweb / CC-BY
        Cross-dressing '80s icon Boy George has had a large gay following since his band Culture Club emerged in the music industry. At the height of his success, he never denied being gay in the media. Later, he stated that some of Culture Club's most popular songs were inspired by his relationships with other men.
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        • George Michael was outed after he was arrested for lewd conduct in 1998. He has since become an outspoken advocate for gay rights and AIDS research, and he frequently performs benefit concerts to support these causes. He showed humor and humility after his arrest by mocking the incident with his music video for "Outside" and satirizing himself on the comedy special for the finale of "Extras."
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