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LGBTQ+ Musicians

Every June, Pride Month is celebrated! It is a month to support and celebrate those who identify as a part of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender,  Queer/Questioning and plus communities. The month is dedicated to those who were a part of the Stonewall Riots in June 1969. The riots were led by members of the LGBTQ+ community against the pervasive police brutality they were facing in New York City and throughout the country. It is considered the spark of the movement for gay rights.

Here at Bandology, we are excited to spotlight some wonderful Canadian musicians and artists who identify as a part of the LGBTQ+ community. We will be featuring one artist a week. Please look through and support these artists, as well as do your own research to support members of this community in June and every month of the year.

k.d. lang

k.d. lang is a lesbian Canadian artist who advocates for the rights and support of the LGBTQ+ community in Canada and beyond. She rose to fame in the 1980s with her unique, experimental sound that blended a variety of genres, including country, folk, pop, rock and alternative. She has received four Grammys, nine Juno Awards and The Order of Canada over the course of her career. One of her most memorable performances was at the Olympics Opening Ceremony in Vancouver 2010, where she performed Canadian Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”  lang came out as a lesbian in a 1992 article in LGBT news magazine The Advocate.

Since then she has been a champion for gay rights, supporting HIV/AIDS care and research. Despite being worried about ostracization by the country music industry when she came out, lang has stated that it “felt like it was the most responsible thing for society and myself.” Though she struggled with some fallout after coming out, Nashville and the country music community were overall accepting and she still found success. In 2011 she was inducted into the Q Hall of Fame Canada, a national resource that houses and commemorates the LGBTQ+ community in Canada.

Tegan and Sara

Tegan and Sara are a Canadian indie pop duo, consisting of identical twin sisters Tegan and Sara Quin. They started performing as teenagers in the 1990s and released their debut album Under Feet Like Ours in 1999, touring extensively and continuing to release music ever since. Throughout their career, they have been nominated for a Grammy, won three Junos, and won two GLAAD awards, which honour representation of the LGBTQ+ in media. Many of their songs have been featured in movies and TV shows such as Dallas Buyers Club, The Lego Movie, Grey’s Anatomy, The Vampire Diaries and Riverdale. Their song “Closer” was even covered on an episode of Glee.

In 2019 they released their memoir entitled High School, which covers their childhood in Alberta and their musical beginnings. Tegan and Sara are both openly gay. In the wake of the 2016 United States presidential election, the sisters founded the Tegan and Sara Foundation, which fights for “economic justice, health and representation for LGBTQ+ girls and women.” They have dedicated profits from their own tours as well as partnerships with brands such as Kiehl’s cosmetics to their foundation.

Vivek Shraya

Vivek Shraya is a Canadian musician, writer and visual artist who incorporates her identity into her art. She released her first album in 2002 and has since released a dozen more solo albums that span a variety of genres. Her published literary works include an illustrated collection of short stories, a poetry collection, children’s picture books, graphic novels and more. Her visual art includes short films, a photo series and the theatrical play “How to Fail as a Popstar,” which depicts “the power of pop culture, dreams, disappointments and self-determination.” The play is currently being adapted for television with the help of CBC. Her work centers around themes of growing up as an immigrant queer person of colour. She came out as a trans woman in 2016 and identifies as bisexual.

Shraya founded an award-winning publishing imprint V.S. Books, which gives opportunities to emerging BIPOC writers. Shraya is also the director of the board of the Tegan and Sara Foundation and served as Pride Toronto Grand Marshal. She is currently an assistant professor in the creative writing program at the University of Calgary.

Queer Songbook Orchestra

The Queer Songbook Orchestra is a fourteen-piece chamber pop ensemble. The orchestra records and performs orchestral covers of pop songs with meaning to the LGBTQ+ community. Songs vary from being explicitly LGBTQ+ themed to songs that have “touched a queer life in a way.” When performed, the song is paired with a reading of why the group chose that song, sharing the story of the queer life (or lives) it has touched. Shaun Brodie founded the group in 2014 and currently serves as the Artistic Director. They often partner with other queer and BIPOC Canadian artists and storytellers for their performances. In 2018 they released their debut album Anthems & Icons, which features a rendition of a song by k.d. lang.

The group uses stories and songs to honour and share stories of the LGBTQ+ experience as they believe that sharing these stories is a powerful tool to communicate and spread awareness. They also provide opportunities for mentorship and support within their community and are dedicated to anti-racism and homophobia. They have toured all over Canada and been featured at numerous Canadian performing arts festivals.


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