The COVID-19 pandemic impacted us all in many ways, with each of us navigating at least some form of loss. Many of us endured a level of loneliness and isolation we’d never known before. In my darkest hours of the pandemic, I turned to music, which has always been a refuge for me.
Now, with pride month well under way and COVID restrictions lifted, we can finally embrace the spirit of Pride month outside, with other people! To help you celebrate and honour Pride, I created this Spotify playlist, which includes these 5 must-have songs for your Pride month playlist.
“Now it ain't easy but I don't need no help. I've got a strong will to survive. I've got a deeper love, deeper love.”
Diva house is a subgenre of house music featuring powerhouse female vocalists channeling their creative strengths over dance tracks. Popular within the queer nightlife, Aretha Franklin’s cover of “A Deeper Love” is a perfect example of the genre. With an irresistible beat, the song empowers folks to be their most authentic selves, while acknowledging the personal challenges we face in our own lives.
It's important to note that this cover was released in 1994 at the height of the AIDS crisis. LGBTQ+ folks were at the highest risk of contracting the virus and many turned to music, dance and community to cope. “A Deeper Love” bravely captures that sentiment by balancing the light and darkness found in the face of adversity.
“When my world seems to crumble all around and foolish people try to bring me down, I just think of your smiling face and I’m flying.”
As one of the most prominent gay icons in pop culture, any Madonna song could have made the list, but “Inside of Me” — an intimate, downtempo R&B song from “Bedtime Stories” — reflects on the emotional pain of loss and loneliness.
Many of us in the LGBTQ+ community explored our identities in isolation, left to fend for ourselves through difficult times. “Inside of Me” explores the external support that grounds the singer through hardship, and highlights the importance of finding support outside of ourselves to help us cope with pain.
“I will not falter though I’ll hold onto your home. Safely back where you belong and see how our love has grown.”
Hearing this song as a kid, I didn’t fully grasp its significance. As I got older, I came to better understand and appreciate its message. As previously mentioned, many LGBTQ+ folks struggle with isolation at different stages of our lives.
What’s beautiful about our community is that we can build chosen families that allow us to feel seen as our authentic selves. “You’re Not Alone” embodies this theme for me. Melodic and dark, “You’re Not Alone” retains the glimmer of hope that is vital to our survival.
“Love your sister, love your brother, love yourself. Remember, one rule, no rules. One love, free xone.”
Any Pride playlist would feel incomplete without the one and only Janet Jackson. Janet has always been revered for being a bold and unapologetic storyteller, and “Free Xone” is a prime example of that. A funky, mid tempo R&B song featuring spoken word-style vocals, the song celebrates same-gender relationships while advocating equality among LGBTQ+ folks.
In my late adolescence, “Free Xone” made me feel confident as a queer man. The lyrics “Boy meets boy, boy loses boy, boy gets cute boy back” played on repeat in my mind because I had never before heard a song that advocated queer relationships so openly. “Free Xone” celebrates self-expression, something that can be both exciting and frightening as we explore our identities.
“Take me somewhere I can breathe, I’ve got so much to see, this is where I want to be, in a place I can call mine.”
For me, “Pure Shores” could be a coming-out song. It captures the journey of emerging identities well, stressing that it’s a process we should go through on our own terms.
It’s important to note that there is no one way to “come out”. Each of us is unique, and our individual experiences and environments contribute to how (and to whom) we will express ourselves. My favourite thing about this song is that it not only highlights the vulnerability of this journey, but rejoices in the beauty of finding yourself for the first time.
Music has the power to lift our moods and speak to experiences we can’t fully express for ourselves. My pride playlist features the five songs that capture the essence of Pride and speak to me on a personal level.
As we continue to coexist with COVID, it’s important to remember that we’re not alone and to continue to honour the glimmers of hope that allow us to thrive despite life’s challenges.
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