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With the rise of social media, it isn’t hard for many musicians to be tossed into the limelight. Many new musicians such as Lil Nas X and Girl in Red, and even many beloved artists, like Jason Mraz, Lady Gaga, and Elton John, are being open about their involvement in the LGBTQ+ community. Thanks to streaming apps like Apple Music, YouTube, these artists have been gaining, or have managed to keep such a large fan base.

Lil Nas X was born in Lithia Springs, Georgia as Montero Lamar Hill. He had quickly rose to prominence with the release of his hit country-rap song “Old Town Road” back in December 3, 2018. Lil Nas X began creating memes to promote “Old Town Road” before it was picked up by TikTok – a short-form social media – users. He estimates that he may have made around 100 memes in order to promote the song, which quickly gained traction under the hashtag #yeehaw in which millions of users posted videos dressed in wrangler or cowgirl outfits. Billboard, known far and wide for the ranking of musicians via sales, genre, etc, had controversially removed “Old Town Road” from the Hot Country songs chart in March 2019, saying that it does not embrace the elements of today’s country music to be charted in its current version. In April 2019, Billy Ray Cyrus had spoken out about his support for Old Town Road, and became a featured artist in the first of several remixes. In that same month, Lil Nas X broke the previous record set by Drake’s record for the most streams in the U.S. from one song in one week, set by “In My Feelings.”

Girl in Red (stylized in all lowercase), born Marie Ulven Ringheim, on February 16, 1999 in Horten, Norway. She is best known for her debut single, “I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend”, released on Soundcloud back in November of 2016 where it received over 5,000 streams in five months. Following the release, the song was featured on the Norwegian music social media website NRK Urørt, “I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend” and amassed thousands of streams which gained Ulven a large online following. Ulven’s 2018 singles “Summer Depression” and “Girls” gained millions of views and streams online. She had won her first award when she was presented with the “Norwegian Newcomer of the Year” at the 2018 GAFFA Awards. In March of 2018, Ulven officially released “I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend” on Apple Music. After the release of her debut EP, Chapter 1, September 14, 2018 “I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend” was listed as number 9 on The New York Times‘ list of “The Best 68 Best Songs of 2018.” Ulven embarked on her first tour in North America, supporting Conan Gray in March 2019. She finally embarked on her first international tour, entitled “World in Red”, in October 2019, performing in cities from Dublin to San Francisco. Today, she resides in Grünerløkka, Norway and is openly gay.

Even with the rise of new pop stars, we cannot forget about queer musical legends, like Sir Elton Hercules John. Born March 25, 1947 as Reginald Kenneth Dwight, Sir Elton John is most likely the most well-known openly gay singers. He is known worldwide for a long solo career and performing with some of the biggest names in music. John’s debut album, Empty Sky, was released in 1969; however, he did not begin to gain traction until his first hit single, “Your Song,” was released in 1970. “Your Song” had become his first top ten song in both UK and US markets, which arguably had launched the most commercially successful period of his career, 1970-76, which included many albums, like: Honky Château, Don’t Shoot Me I’m the Only Piano Player, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and his first Greatest Hits compilation, the latter of the two among the official best selling albums worldwide. John also had success in musical film and theatre, composing for The Lion King, Aida, and Billy Elliot the Musical. In 2018, John had began his farewell tour. John had played a large and vital part in the fight against the AIDS epidemic since the late 1980s. In 1992, he had established the Elton John AIDS Foundation. A year later, he began hosting his own annual Academy Awards Party, which quickly became the biggest of the high-profile Oscar parties in the film industry. Since its creation, the foundation has raised over three-hundred million pounds.

With the ever-increasing world of social media and the popularity of streaming apps, I look forward to seeing just how much the music industry changes to view, support, and show all artists, LGBTQ+ or not. Music is something the world has in common, and as such is growing with every one of us.

Corpus Christian by birth, Taylor Kinsel has a love of languages, cultures, people, and art. She has taken her interests and love to a whole new level by attending Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, studying her interests in the hopes of landing her dream job in the international field. She looked into Her Campus on her campus in order to find a sense of empowerment and sisterhood on her very own campus.
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