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8 Queer Artists In The Music Industry

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I, for one, have a serene addiction to YouTube. Having watched a sufficient amount of ‘Coming Out’ videos and having have followed a fair number of queer YouTubers for an equally, fairly long time, I shan’t take a second more than I should to declare that the accumulation of LGBT+ identifying individuals within the YouTube community and the obvious Television, Film and Music Industry has aided greatly toward forming within me the courage to come out and embrace my individuality. It’s only fair I express my gratitude to them by sharing with y’all some of the most prominent queer individuals, particularly in the YouTube + Music scene.

1. Troye Sivan

Troye Sivan can, most efficiently, be deemed the most influential queer individual in the YouTube+music scene. With over 3 million subscribers and 179 million views on YouTube, along with 30,000 sales of his debut EP – titled ‘TRXYE’ – within the first three days of its launch in the States, Troye, individually, is a dominating, highly known and loved brand, especially amongst the millennials. Troye was 15 when he first shared with his family he was gay. Publicly, he came out to his YouTube audience, in particular, on 7 August, 2013. His ‘Coming Out’ video was received with immense kindness and acceptance and, as of 6 June, 2015, has been viewed over 5.4 million times.


2. Adam Lambert

Anyone who’s been a follower of American Idol will be, or rather should be familiar with Adam Lambert. He was a runner-up in the eighth season of the singing-competition series and his debut studio album, titled ‘For Your Entertainment’, sold over 198,000 copies within the first week of its launch. Following the release of his second studio album, titled ‘Tresspassing’, in May of 2012, Adam became the first openly gay artist to top the Billboard Digital Album Charts, as well as the Canadian Digital Album Charts.


3. Sam Smith

Oh, the beautiful narration and composition of Stay With Me has deeply infected our minds, hasn’t it? The catchy, melancholic tune. The beautifully written, conscientiously moving lyrics. The heart-gripping honesty in Sam’s persona. These are all just a few aspects of the ever-lengthening list of attributes of Sam Smith and his work we love. His critically acclaimed debut album, titled ‘In The Lonely Hour’, debuted in late May of 2014. Chart-breaking singles such as ‘Stay With Me’ and ‘I’m Not The Only One’ fared the album colossally well, which, as of 2015, has sold over 5 million copies worldwide. He came out as gay in May of 2014, publicly recognizing his then-relationship with Jonathan Zeizel.


4. Chely Wright

Chely Wright is referred to as one of the very first majorly-acknowledged ‘Country’ artists to have publicly come out as gay. Appearing on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in October of 2010, Chely shared: “Shortly after I’d told him (her father) that I am gay, he came to my house and I said ‘Dad, I want you to read a book.’ And I had read your mother’s (Ellen’s mother Betty DeGeneres’) book (‘Love, Ellen’), and I was fearful that I would never have a parent like your mother, and my dad is the biggest advocate, and my dad has amazed me, and my dad is walking in the footsteps of Betty DeGeneres.” In October of 2014, Chely created a Kickstarter campaign so as to accumulate funds to be able to financially aid her eighth studio album after an almost 4-year hiatus, raising $250,000 and making the campaign the most successful Kickstarter campaign in ‘Country Music’ and the sixth-most successful as a mere musical campaign.


5. Lady Gaga

Hail, Mother Monster! What many may be oblivious to is the fact that Lady Gaga identifies as bisexual. Following the release of her debut studio album, ‘The Fame’, which is deemed one of the “100 Greatest Debut Albums Of All-Time” by Rolling Stones, Gaga publicly shared that her chart-devouring song ‘Poker Face’ was about her bisexuality. She stands as one of the most blaring, outspoken and enthusiastic LGBT+ activists in the entire world. In an exclusive instance, the Universal Life Church Monastery ordained Lady Gaga as a minister so that she herself could officiate two of her longtime girl-friends’ wedding.


6. Joey Graceffa

Although he isn’t primarily known as a singer or musician, Joey is part of the rapidly rising community of YouTubers with over 4.5 million subscribers and 500 million views. On 16 May, 2015, he released a music video titled ‘Don’t Wait’, toward the end of which, he kissed his male co-star and admitted he was gay in the ending monologue. The video received swift recognition, garnering over a million views within the first day of its release, and Joey’s coming-out was met with overwhelming acceptance.


7. Conchita Wurst

Conchita Wurst is an Austrian singer and drag queen portrayed by Tom Neuwirth. Tom, who is openly gay, employs masculine pronouns when referring to himself, and feminine pronouns when referring to Conchita. Conchita, in the eye of international media, is called the “Queen of Austria”. Tom has, at multiple occasions, compared his portrayal of Conchita to Beyoncé’s alter ego, Sasha Fierce. Conchita, internationally, is recognized as a flamboyant gay icon, a title that, for her, has amounted to numerous invitations to an equally large amount of ‘Pride’ events around the world.

8. Miley Cyrus

The beloved Miley Cyrus who, through her Disney years, flamboyantly grounded herself as a household name has gone on to become a vociferous social activist in multiple facets. The more we could say – or write – about her, the lesser it would feel. Whilst many admirers of Miley find it hard to accept or even understand her evolved personality, what really needs to be accentuated is the good that she’s doing with the position she’s in; She is the founder of the Happy Hippie Foundation whose primary goal is to unite the youth, in particular, to “fight injustice-facing homeless youth, LGBTQ youth and other vulnerable populations.” In an exclusive interview with Paper Magazine, she shared she considers her sexual and gender identity fluid, saying “I don’t relate to being boy or girl, and I don’t have to have my partner relate to being boy or girl.”

What’s vitalizing is the fact that these happen to be just a few of the many, many individuals in the Music Industry who have contributed toward the de-stigmatization of the LGBT+ community, having courage to publicly embrace their individualities.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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