Music has always been a tool for resistance, acceptance and celebration. With that in mind, we put together District Fray’s Pride playlist by asking some LGBTQ+ locals featured throughout the issue to contribute songs that represent Pride to them and tell us why they picked each song. Add our playlist to your Spotify library here. Happy Pride, and happy listening.
“Dancing On My Own” by Robyn
A dance anthem about trying to find love, acceptance and visibility, all set to a pulsating beat. I could just put this on repeat for the night and I think everyone would be happy.
“Free (Mood II Swing Mix)” by Ultra Naté
This is an often-overlooked gem. It’s such an uplifting and empowering song that really embraces what Pride is about.
KC Cambrel | KC B. Yoncé
“Find Your Way Back” by Beyoncé + “Finally” by CeCe Peniston
Both of these songs encapsulate Pride for me this year because they are happy and uplifting songs. One is about finding your way back to who you really are and the other is about finally being able to celebrate love!
“I’m Every Woman” by Chaka Khan
When I hear this song, I think of a packed club pre-pandemic where everyone is dancing and singing this at the top of their lungs. This will always be a Pride classic because it’s about seeing yourself in others, and that same notion of togetherness lies at the core of the LGBTQ+ community.
“I Love It (feat. Charli XCX)” by Icona Pop
This song is the epitome of Pride. It’s bold, it’s loud and it’s shameless. “I don’t care! I love it!”
“You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” by Sylvester
Sylvester is the disco artist no one ever talks about, but everyone dances to. Sticking out as a flamboyant and androgynous performer, Sylvester’s unapologetic presence and sound was destined for greatness until his life was cut short due to AIDS in 1988. His 1978 hit “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” brings people together on the dance floor and makes them feel proud of who they are. The song is now permanently part of American history. In 2019, the song was selected by the Library of Congress for its National Recording Registry for being “culturally, historically or aesthetically important.”
“Vogue” by Madonna
One of the first major musical artists to openly embrace the LGBTQ+ community in her videos, documentaries and personal life, Madonna signed gay and lesbian artists to her own record label, talked about HIV/AIDS while our government sat on its hands, and she gifted young queers with the soundtrack of their lives. In 1990, “Vogue” captured the moment with style, class, and a great dance beat and moves. This dance style that Madonna lifted from the Black and Brown LGBTQ+ ballroom scene reminded every queer that our most cherished sounds, dances and expressions originate from Black and Brown spaces.
“Broken & Beautiful” by Kelly Clarkson
I feel this song embodies the strength you obtain after becoming your true self, or “coming out.”
“Emotions (MTV Unplugged Version)” by Mariah Carey
Who doesn’t love a first time high of obtaining your crush or long-awaited love interest?
“Immaterial” by SOPHIE
Pride to me is representation and boundary breaking. SOPHIE encapsulated that, and her music was so innovative and joyful to me. RIP, angel.
“Stars” by Sylvester
I’ll let the lyrics do the heavy lifting here: “There’s a party feeling that outshines them all. If you’re here, you’ve earned it, and can’t you hear that call? Take a look around, tell me what you see. Sisters and brothers feeling high, feeling free. Can you lighten up the sky, stars glittering. Dancing in the night, stars shimmering. You are a star, everybody is one. You are a star, and you only happen once.”
“I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)” by Whitney Houston + “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire
These are my favorites because both are timeless classics that always uplift my vibe [and] make me throw my arms in the air and feel like I’m the only one on the dance floor!
“I Want It That Way” by Backstreet Boys + “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
I picked these two songs because whenever at a party, social gathering or hanging with a good group of friends, these are two songs that will literally stop conversations. For about three minutes everything else drifts away, even the topics that were being discussed, and lungs are pushed to capacity in unison. If that’s not prideful, I don’t know what is.
“iamundernodisguise” by School of Seven Bells
This song speaks to me about connecting with your deepest self and leaving behind all the projected images and preconceptions that might be thrown at you. The chorus, “I am under no disguise,” really speaks to how I want to live: open and authentically me!
“Rhapsody in Blue” by George Gershwin
This might be an unusual choice as there are no lyrics, but to me, this bombastic and liberated symphony captures a lot of feelings. The multiplicity of queerness shines through in joyous crashing and somber thoughtfulness, all in one song!
“Ain’t Nobody” by Chaka Khan and Rufus
I choose “Ain’t Nobody” because it makes me so happy. I have seen so many groups at Pride over the years dance to it.
“Talking Body” by Tove Lo
“Talking Body” was one of the first songs I ever performed to in drag and has a special place in my heart.
“Essence” by WizKid featuring Tems
This song is my vibe for the summer. From the texture of Tems’ voice to how she effortlessly rides the beat, whenever I hear it, I want to be driving on an island with the wind blowing through my hair.
“Lockdown” by Koffee
As a female reggae artist, Koffee defies odds. Like me, she is unafraid to show up as herself and do what she loves. Not to mention, her vocals are out of this world.
“Nails, Hair, Hips, Heels” by Todrick Hall
Todrick is a gay, inspirational artist in the LGBTQ community, and the song is about feeling confidently queer and breaking gender normativity.
“I’m Coming Out” by Diana Ross
[This is a] classic LGBTQ anthem that encapsulates the joy and courage of coming out and not being afraid to be who you are. That is what Pride is all about!
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