Meet 5 Trailblazing LGBTQ Dance Music Artists
To say that the LGBTQ+ community has influenced dance music over the years is an understatement. The entire concept of electronic dance music was born in the underground nightlife scene of Chicago and Detroit in the 1980s with the queer community at the forefront. Before tthat, disco thrived in the queer nightlife scene. As the scene grew and developed over the years, offshoots like house, and techno emerged. These sub-genres were defined by the marginalized LGBTQ+ and African-American communities that attended the events in Chicago and Detroit.
As with many underground cultures, the movement quickly gained popularity and the history and influence of LGBTQ+ individuals began to slide away. As dance music has grown into an international phenomenon, there are a smattering of modern artists who still carry the torch across a wide variety of genres. For these artists, it is more important than ever to represent their identities while also recognizing the impact that the prior generations had in paving the path for modern LGBTQ+ artists to grow out of the warehouses, and onto the mainstage of events all over the world.
Although this is by no means a summation of all the important LGBTQ+ artists out there, we have highlighted five who are vocal champions of the community and continue to create truly incredible music.
For GRiZ, the journey towards acceptance was never straightforward. His career began before being out in the dance community was as accepted as it is today. He existed in a niche genre, creating his own style of saxophone-tinged bass music. As his popularity grew, he was afraid to come out as he thought he would lose fans and didn’t want his music to be pushed into a corner. Once he was able to accept himself, he felt that his music and personal life improved immediately.
“Don’t be afraid to come out,” GRiZ says. “Fear comes from personal self-acceptance and not the self. Most people in your lives will be very happy and supportive of you for mustering the strength to say something. And if they’re not, that’s OK, too. There are people out there who will be.”
Wreckno’s career began only a few short years ago. His journey was more about realizing his true self than battling demons. Being a gay artist in the bass community, Wreckno has been aware of his place in the scene and the obligation he feels to represent his identity.
“Being queer in dance music is something that means so much to me. The roots of dance music come from queer POC, and to finally see strides being made for more representation on lineups is amazing. It’s what so many of us have been waiting for, and it’s only going to get better.”
Wreckno simply hopes to be recognized alongside his peers for making great music, and to see equal representation within the dance music community.
A true veteran of dance music, MZ Worthy cut her teeth in New York City before moving to the west coast and helping establish the iconic Dirtybird brand. Despite success throughout her career, Worthy began feeling increasingly unhappy. In 2020 she came out to the world as transgender, as has since been a vocal advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, as well as encouraging anyone who needs to hear it, to accept themselves.
“I'm blessed to have been given this platform as I have the opportunity to inform so many people on LGBTQ+ issues that they may not have been aware of. The only way to move forward is to amplify our issues with an empathetic voice and share the struggles that face the LGBTQ+ community.”
The decision to transition gave Worthy a massive sense of relief and freedom, finally allowing herself to truly be the person that she always knew she was deep down inside. The decision to do so has also given her the confidence and strength to take the next steps in her music career, feeling free and comfortable on stage and in the studio for the first time in years.
It’s rare to see the combination of maturity and bravery at a young age that Moore Kismet displays. The 17-year-old rising star burst onto the scene just over two years ago, creating their own unique brand of raw, future-forward bass music.
For Moore, their identity as a gender non-binary individual has always been at the forefront. They have had to deal with the struggles of understanding oneself at such a young age, while also working tirelessly on crafting a career in music. They are aware of their influence on other young LGBTQ+ individuals, and hope to be a figure to look up to.
“LGBQT+ people have been such an integral part of dance music scene ever since it began, and we’re just as big a part of it today. I’m so proud to be a part of it today. Im so proud to be a part of the generation of incredible queer artists paving the way for more inclusivity and diversity in the industry. It’s about fucking time.”
Perhaps the most OG member on this list, Honey Dijon has worked hard to break down barriers in dance music for decades. The trans icon started her career in Chicago, making a name for herself as a stellar DJ while coming up in the warehouse era of Chicago house music alongside legends like Frankie Knuckles and Derrick Carter.
Honey Dijon was initially a performer at gay parties, but felt that she had a higher purpose. She didn’t want to be entertainment on the eyes anymore, and this prompted her to switch to DJing.
Watching the crowd react to her performances and being connected to people through sound is what inspires her. A true warrior and incredible talent, it is women like Honey that have opened the doors for artists in 2022 to be themselves from the jump.