Songs about LGBT+ love can be just as relatable as typical heterosexual love songsJasmin Sessler

The tendency to universalise the heterosexual experience of love is perhaps clearest in music. Straight love songs are everyone’s love songs, queer love songs are a category apart. Beyond the cult classics of Queen and Elton John, when faced with promoting queer artists to ‘mainstream’ audiences, the exploitative and often predatory nature of the music industry pushes artists into assuming toned-down sexless voices, or hypersexualised displays of pornography which pander to the male gaze. Queer relationships, if represented at all, lean on narratives of violence and abuse.

At a glance: 9 Queer Love Songs For Your Latest Playlist

9. Yellow House - ‘Love in the Time of Socialism’

8. Left at London - ‘Revolution Lover’

7. Arlo Parks - ‘Green Eyes’

6. Rio Romero - ‘dyltgir’

5. Sleater-Kinney – ‘One More Hour’

4. Kehlani - ‘Honey’

3. The Childlike Empress - ‘Line of the Heart’

2. The Magnetic Fields - ‘When My Boy Walks Down the Street’

1. Frank Ocean - ‘Seigfried’

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Undeniably, music is transformative. Music helps navigate complex identity introspection, unites people through shared experiences, and is an assertion of existence, the right to be public. Music is political and personal.

Suffering and the LGBT+ community are inevitably intertwined and it would be wrong to ignore this. Too often, however, stories of collective dreaming, of hope, resilience and resistance are obscured by narratives of pain. With SOPHIE’s death, LGBTQ+ history month, media backlash against It’s a Sin and criticisms of the University’s lack of support for LGBT+ students, it feels timely to address the other side of queer identity, self-discovery, love, joy.

I bring to you an eclectic countdown of my current favourite queer love songs, in the hope that they’ll boost your listening repertoire and that you can you find the universal in the marginalised.

9. Yellow House – “Love in the Time of Socialism”

Inspired by Van Gogh’s painting, Yellow House is the poetic brainchild of Emile van Dango. “Love in the Time of Socialism” is an existential lullaby, an ode to travel, creativity and finding a home not in a place, but a person. Gentle guitars and allusions to Satre, De Beauvoir and Garcia Marquez make this the perfect song to start the countdown with. Preferring to refer to his queerness vaguely rather than overtly, the gender-neutral song is perfect for lemonade and afternoon picnics, cottagecore daydreams turned into reality.

8. Left at London – “Revolution Lover”

This is not a love song, but a polemic. Trans rights in the UK are increasingly under threat, as perfectly encapsulated in Nat Puff’s (stage name Left at London) album Transgender Street Legend, Vol. 1. Religious overtones and gospel style opening are contrasted to the theme of revolution and social change in “Revolution Lover”, highlighting the tenuous nature of queer existence in a prejudice society. Nevertheless, this is not a song of mourning, but a song of triumph, of staying together despite the odds, of thriving and resisting. To exist is to resist, and no song captures it as beautifully, and with as much joy, as this one.

7. Arlo Parks – “Green Eyes”

At just 20 years old, Arlo Parks saved our lockdown when she released her debut album Collapsed in Sunbeams only a few weeks ago. Hazy, laid-back beats and poetic vocals that don’t shy away from both hurt and hope set the tone for the album. She interweaves first and third-person narratives throughout, examining the dissolution of a relationship and journey of self-love from both the inside and the outside. “Green Eyes” is the seventh song and narrates the intricacies of queer relationships when there is shame, internalised homophobia and an unwelcoming society. ‘Of course I know why we lasted two months/Could not hold my hand in public’. Her biting honesty of the unfortunate realities of queer romance does not stop this from being a stunning, and ultimately optimistic song of self-acceptance and growth, one that anyone who has had to unpack layers of internalised homophobia (thank you Catholic secondary school) will relate to.

6. Rio Romero – “dyltgir”

With a shaved head and hammer in hand, Rio Romero (previously releasing music under the name Rio Baxter) has exploded on TikTok. Known for their janky, out of tune piano and heartfelt lyrics, they embody the DIY queercore scene with a Frank Sinatra twist. Their unapologetic lyrics explore the complexity of identity: being a non-binary lesbian, compulsive heterosexuality and bipolarity. “Dyltgir?” is their first single under their new name and it encompasses the feelings of a new crush. Piano crescendos are like butterflies and the layering of music and monologue accompany the first crush anxiety.

5. Sleater-Kinney – “One More Hour”

“America’s last truly great punk band,” Sleater-Kinney have stood the test of time. Most famous for their position in the 90s riot grrrl movement, they have made a welcome comeback. One of the only bands to criticise Bush publicly, politics, gender and queerness have always intersected in their music. “One More Hour” is potentially one of the most touching love songs in punk history. It details the brief relationship of guitarist Carrie Brownstein and frontwoman Corin Tucker. With a heavy guitar riff inspired by Gang of Four and lyrics that intertwine both their voices, the song is a snapshot of the last moments before a breakup. The repeated lyrics reflect the difficulty letting go of someone you love, knowing that when you turn around they’ll no longer be with you, trying to savour the present moment. Told from both their perspectives, this is a song of yearning. Perhaps not the happiest on my list, but if you’ve ever dated someone who is the ‘right person, wrong time’, this is the song for you.

4. Kehlani – “Honey”

This, and Hayley Kyoko’s “Girls like Girls”, were the two songs that I clung to as a teenager, confused by new feelings that I struggled to verbalise. Released as a single after her 2017 album SweetSexySavage, Kehlani’s signature laid back RnB vocals and sepia-coloured music video recall a VHS home movie: intimate, raw and personal. ‘I’m a heartbreak vet/ with a stone-cold neck’ croons Kehlani, a powerful meditation on the difficulties of loving and allowing yourself to be loved in return. References to The Beatles and Erykah Badu sit among themes of jealousy, self awareness and heartbreak, alchemising into a tender yet forceful exploration of female love, loss and redemption.

3. The Childlike Empress – “Line of the Heart”

‘The line of my heart curves to yours / intertwined forevermore / can you feel our fate?’


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A self-proclaimed multidimensional witch and healer, The Childlike Empress’ 2019 album Take Care of Yourself is mystical and enchanting. Even “The Childlike Empress” is a reference to The NeverEnding Story (coincidently my favourite film as a kid), and this song offers just that: a never-ending story. This song is a love spell. Banjos and harmonies entwine into a stunning emotional catharsis. Situated in a wider EP of healing, growth and connection, this song is about soul-mate love and fate, the kind that helps you to blossom. If Princess Nokia’s Metallic Butterfly had banjos, this is what it would sound like: ethereal and otherworldly.

2. The Magnetic Fields – “When My Boy Walks Down the Street”

Like the true indie-kid stereotype that I am, 69 Love Songs is one my favourite albums of all time. The lead singer, Stephen Fields, is openly gay, so narrowing down an album of love songs into just one is a challenge. However, with a Velvet Underground/Jesus and Mary Chain-style melody, I believe “When My Boy…” exquisitely captures the honey-moon phase of new love. ‘Grand Pianos crash together/when my boy walks down the street’ is at once both absurdist and romantic. Inspired by 60s love songs, “When My Boy…” combines a catchy piano riff with humour. This entire album may be a work of art, but this song stands out as pure, unfiltered joy.

1. Frank Ocean – “Seigfried”

No selection of queer love songs would be complete without Frank Ocean. So what if this a break up song? It tangles together the confusion of love so magically: the obscure and muddled line between romance and heartbreak. The guitars sound foggy and nostalgic, as if in a dissociated episode or an abstract and intangible dream. In his classic style, the references are intelligent and multilayered. Borrowing lyrics from the notoriously painful music of Elliot Smith and interlacing them with elusive references to Wagner in the title, the song explores masculinity and bisexuality, escapism and self-discovery, and ultimately the awareness that everyone who you love stays with you, no matter how long ago you broke-up. Real love lasts forever, and “Seigfried” is a pensive ode to that.