Honouring the songs, stories, faces and voices who have helped us let our pride shine.
Continuing on from our spotlight earlier this month, we wish to farewell the end of Pride Month by honouring the work of Australian artists whose craft has not only deeply impacted the lives of their fans, but has also rippled on to create communities of compassion and celebration.
While we continue to strive towards a future of level playing fields for artists, regardless of their sexuality or gender identity, here is another brief snapshot of some of the exceptional artists of this country who have amplified the presence of queer visibility, storytelling, advocacy and pride in the Australian music space, and beyond.
Alter Boy is a band that truly transcends all boxes, not only in their genre-defying experimentation of electro-pop, but by challenging traditional norms of gender, the ableist gaze of bodies, and also the relationships of Deaf and Hard of Hearing people and music.
With Auslan flourishing as an integral heart of their artistry, performance and storytelling, Alter Boy are trailblazing a crucial perspective of inclusivity throughout the Australian scene, advocating that music can and should be a place where all can belong.
Through their lyricism and signing, Alter Boy explore themes such as the intersecting points of religion and queerness in their lives, reclaiming their identities through their music and their powerful, visceral performances.
Across a music career spanning over a decade, Abbe May has evolved as an utterly unparalleled artist in Australian music whose original sound, style and lyricism has emerged one step ahead of the curve. Her fourth album Fruit, which was her first album as an out and proud gay artist, was a monumental feat of unapologetic queer visibility and a powerful declaration of identity.
But even before coming out, Abbe May has never shied away from desire and intimacy in her music, abolishing the stigma and shame patriarchally tied to female sexuality. Prior to Fruit, her ground-breaking third record Kiss My Apocalypse scored May national recognition with an ARIA nomination in 2013 for the Best Female Artist.
Also, if you’re yet to follow the proclaimed ‘Lesbian Jesus’ on her socials, you are in for an absolute treat. Just trust us.
Electric Fields are one of those rare artists that will capture your heart from the very first listen. The tremendously talented duo, comprised of Zaachariaha Fielding and Michael Ross, are continually changing the game in Australian pop with Fielding’s hypnotic, chill-provoking vocals and Ross’s envelope-pushing production. Weaving Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara language through their storytelling, Electric Fields are building their box-breaking project atop a foundation of strength in authenticity, vulnerability and love.
Stepping away from labels, the pair let their artistry speak at the forefront of their project. In an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald, Ross emphasises their core value of non-conformity as a duo, stating that: "Zaachariaha has said we are not an Indigenous band. We are not a queer band. We are not any of these things. Whatever box or word you want to attach to what we do, it doesn't matter to us because we are just doing and being."
If you have ever had the pleasure of experiencing one of Hope D’s exhilarating live sets, you’ll immediately understand the profound impact that the 23-year-old’s music has had amongst fans across the country. Releasing the debut single for her project in 2019, Swim has gone on to resonate amongst countless hearts as a queer anthem, voicing the injustices of homophobic discrimination in an act of courage to live as one’s truest self.
So how is it a sin for just / holding onto someone else’s hand. I must / understand why they stare in disgust. / And if they keep it up, I think my head will rust. / So how about I just swim?
Performing alongside her powerhouse all-queer female and gender diverse band, Hope D’s live shows transform any space into a haven of palpable pride that overflow with crowd-accompanied chants belting back every lyric.
It's pretty safe to say that Beccy Cole's role in spearheading queer representation in the Australian country music community has been nothing short of monumental. Celebrating her identity as a proud lesbian through her soulful, heart-on-sleeve storytelling, Cole has made massive waves of positive visibility amidst a genre where open discussions of queerness are still gradually emerging.
Recently inducted into the Australasian Country Music Roll of Renown at this year’s Golden Guitar Awards, as well as co-hosting the awards night with troves of her signature sparkling charisma, Cole also lead the first-ever LGBTQIA+ Pride Float at this year’s 2022 Tamworth Country Music Festival. With 11 Golden Guitars under her name, the 2018 title of Music Artist of the Year at the Australian LGBTI Awards and now an Order of Australia Medal from this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours List, Beccy Cole has been gilded not only as a highly-acclaimed artist, but a role model for generations of country musicians to come.
Cub Sport’s journey, so far, has been an extraordinary story where fans have not only been welcomed in the world of their music, but also the relationship that sits at the band’s core.
In July 2017, prior to dropping their second album BATS, Cub Sport members and childhood friends Tim Nelson and Sam Netterfield announced their engagement to the world, while pushing for the legalisation of marriage equality in Australia. Months later with the release of BATS, Cub Sport grasped the chance to finally express themselves without closeted restraint, fearlessly showcasing their queerness, as well as Nelson and Netterfield’s relationship.
In the years of their career since, Cub Sport have only continued to soar with their loud and proud presence, amplifying representation and the voices of queer people across the country. In addition to their music, Cub Sport have also advocated their platform to call for more political action to support the LGBTQIA+ community, including the recent nationwide marches protesting this year’s now-shelved Religious Discrimination Bill.
Stev Zar is a revered Naarm-based DJ and leader of the UMAMI Collective - a party-throwing community focused on lifting LGBTQIA+ and First Nations artistry to the forefront. Self-described as a hot pot showcasing all the city’s diverse flavours, “offering a delicious serving of looks, live music and DJs”, the UMAMI Collective strives with Stev Zar at the helm to carve a night life haven for queer and BIPOC communities to feel safe, seen and celebrated.
Stev Zar’s signature sound is as diverse as it is utterly infectious. Basking in genre-fluidity, Stev Zar’s sets are famous for their seamless fusions of vibrant electronica, industrial techno and intercultural beat influences, dipping into the historically iconic queer stylings of ballroom and vogue house.
From the outer suburbs of Brisbane to making Australian music history, Savage Garden frontman Darren Hayes had always dreamed of becoming an entertainer since a Michael Jackson concert at 15 bestowed him with his calling.
Growing up amidst an abusive childhood, swamped by bullying and the outbursts of his violent, alcoholic father, Hayes learnt early on to dim any glimmer of difference just to get through the day. Fast forward to today, Hayes has become one of the most recognisable queer figures in Australian music history, casting a light of visibility at a time when queerness was still shunned by media and culture.
Turning back to the late nineties and the rise of Savage Garden, Hayes faced the dilemma of jeopardising the success of his skyrocketing career by openly declaring his sexuality. In an interview with Billboard, he admitted, “I don’t know if people realized, but in press when I was asked about my sexuality, I never denied being gay. I always said the only acceptable answer in 1997, which was ‘I’d prefer not to talk about my private life’ — which was code for ‘of course I’m gay.’” But as Hayes ventured into his solo project and later publicly revealed his relationship with his now-husband, the Australian music legend has gone on to reclaim his pride and identity through his artistry, as well as advocating for queer youth, and this year, even headlining the 2022 Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade.