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Ziggy Stardust outfit from 1972, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. | Photo: Adam Jones
Ziggy Stardust outfit from 1972, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame | Photo: Adam Jones
Jan Hamerský -

The 10 Biggest LGBT Rock Icons

Rock is rebel music. It breaks everything, even sexual conventions. Elton John certainly wasn’t shy about his coming out—and that encouraged other gays, too. And as he prepares to retire at seventy-five, it’s a good time to remember other LGBT idols. There are several cis heteros among them, but nevermind, right?

1. To love somebody // Janis Joplin

Joplin has never spoken publicly about her sexual orientation. She was just used to doing whatever she wanted. Her stormy, even though initially platonic, relationship with singer and designer Peggy Caserta was very inspiring in this respect. It was full of understanding and a tremendous amount of drugs.

2. Loving the alien // David Bowie

Married twice, had children, and still enjoyed acting as Ziggy Stardust and “The Man Who Fell to Earth.” Bowie didn't take his sexual preferences as dogma either. He was rumored to have had an affair even with Mick Jagger.

3. I want to break free // Freddie Mercury

He signed his name to a crucial community anthem. He knew how to let his hair down and was electrifying to men and women—but only in the limelight. In private, Mercury was extremely shy. He only gave very few interviews and didn’t talk much about his relationship with Jim Hutton of his own accord.

4. Where does he get all those wonderful toys? // Rob Halford

Until the beginning of the ‘90s, many metalheads lived in blissful ignorance about the origin of all those studded wristbands and pyramid belts. Then Rob Halford came out as gay and revealed that he made the costume from what he bought in London’s Soho—renowned gay district.

5. Let’s just talk about the music // Joan Jett

She was the first woman to start her own record company, but otherwise, she is more concerned with animal rights than any kind of emancipation. She’s always wanted fans to focus on her music. If it weren’t for Lita Ford, who revealed in her memoirs (2016) that she left The Runaways because she simply couldn’t stand being in an all-lesbian band, it probably would have stayed that way.

6. And that’s it // Linda Perry

By contrast, Perry, a half a generation younger composer and producer was quite open. First, in '94, she put the “dyke” sticker on her guitar, and a year later, in an interview with The Advocate, she made it clear: “All my life I’ve loved women, and that’s it. I‘ve never been any other way.”

7. Rainbow death metal // Cynic

In metal, swearing at “gay posers” is considered small talk, which didn't bother guitarist-singer Paul Masvidal and drummer Sean Reinert much. They caused a small genre revolution, thanks to which extreme metal could have been of every color of the rainbow. They admitted to being a couple in 2014.

8. Warm greetings from Russia // Rammstein

Are “Mann Gegen Mann” or “Pussy” blatantly primitive jokes? Depends on the context. Till Lindenmann waved a rainbow flag in front of Polish Catholics. And in Russia, where LGBT was outlawed, Kruspe and Landers just kissed each other in front of a full stadium.

9. Special needs // Brian Molko

He paints his nails, wears make-up, loves punk, and enjoys the fact that people commonly mistake him for a woman. The androgynous Placebo frontman grew up in a bigoted Catholic family. He says that until he found out he was bisexual, he felt very lonely.

10. No person is worthless // Julien Baker

Originally from the religious American South, she came out as a lesbian at seventeen—and when she confided in her parish priest, this is exactly what she told her. Her parents were fine with their daughter being a lesbian. They went to church and to punk gigs, too. Her other gay friends weren’t so lucky. She supports them with a guitar that has a “resistance is our culture” sticker placed right next to a picture of Jesus.

And what other LGBT rock icons can you think of? Write in the discussion below the article.

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Jan Hamerský
Born in 1988. When he was fifteen and deciding what to do next, writing was the obvious choice. At nineteen, he changed his mind. It seemed to him that it is history that writes stories. Then he found out that history is written by winners—he joined the losers. He majored in h…