These days, with more and more public figures coming forward about
their sexuality, it was only a matter of time that we here at AfterElton.com put
together a list of the most influential and intriguing openly gay and bisexual
male musicians of the past century. Compiling a list like this was no small
While we’ve limited this to only 50 musicians, the number of
openly gay artists far surpasses that number, and we’re sure you will likely
spot an artist near and dear to your heart that we left out. Trust us that it
was not done in malice. We simply tried to assemble a list of
those artists we feel have been both successful in their careers while also raising
awareness toward gay rights issues and giving back to the community in which
We also decided to rule out those artists whose sexuality was
often rumored to be gay, but have never been confirmed by the artists
themselves, take Morrissey or Liberace for example. We also decided to omit
those musicians who appeared to flirt with being bisexual, but ultimately seem to consider themselves straight, such as
David Bowie, or musicians who have talked in vague generalities about bisexuality but again ultimately seem clearly heterosexual, such as Green Day front man Billie Joe Armstrong.
So here we are with a list honoring those out and proud men who have
paved the way for many others like them and many more who will surely come.
These men have been a positive influence for GLBT youth around the world, and
by their honesty they have helped shape the current climate and acceptability for
being an openly gay male artist in today’s music industry.
These are artists who risked their careers to be true to their
sexuality, and who make us proud to be the gay and bi men that we are.
Italian pop singer Tiziano Ferro got his start like numerous
American Idol finalists these days by participating in a talent show – the
Sanremo Music Festival in 1998. While Ferro did not win the competition, he did
make it to the 12 finalists, but more importantly he caught the attention of two
producers in the audience – Alberto Salerno and Mara Maionch.
Together they worked on Ferro’s debut album Rosso Relativo, released in 2001. Ferro’s song “Universal Prayer”
was used at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, and he has since gone on
to sell over 8 million albums worldwide, in part because Ferro is fluent in
Spanish and releases Spanish versions of his Italian albums. Recently Ferro
made headlines when he chose to come out to Italian Vanity Fair magazine on October 5, 2010, stating “I want to fall in
love with a man.” Ferro is our most recently out gay male artist.
Born Glenn Soukesian, Colton Ford first rose to prominence as a
gay adult film star from 2001-2002 with 11 films to date, many of which I’m
sure you’ve already seen. Interestingly enough, before Ford’s time in the movie
industry, he began his career as a back-up singer for the likes of Salt ‘n
Pepa, Chaka Khan, and Vanessa Williams.
Ford walked away from the adult film industry in 2002 to refocus
his career on music, generating a string of club/dance hits including
“Everything” and “That’s Me” on which he collaborated with Cazwell. His cover
of Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours” peaked at No. 9 on the
Hot Dance Club Play chart while his debut album Tug of War was released in 2008. In the same year he participated
in the True Colors Tour alongside Cyndi Lauper, the Indigo Girls and Joan Jett.
Ford appears in the music video for Lauper’s 2008 single “Into the Nightlife.”
Ford’s second album Under
the Covers features his versions of tracks from artists like Britney
Spears’ “Trouble” and Robyn’s “With Every Heartbeat.” So what kind of man is
someone like Colton Ford into? He says he likes “a man who can be vulnerable,
share his insecurities, be in the moment and be very honest and authentic. That
speaks to me more than anything. That’s a really, really hot quality.”
born Brannan has been compared to Rufus Wainwright for his openness as a gay
artist, and has been compared to Ani DiFranco and Joni Mitchell for his
craftiness with songwriting, possessing the qualities of an “angry, sad woman.”
In 2002, after just one semester of college in Ohio,
Brannan set out for New York City
hoping to break into the entertainment industry. He quickly landed a role in
the film Shortbus and got the chance
to add his own song “Soda Shop” to the movie’s Soundtrack. Brannan’s music
career soon took off as he utilized Myspace, YouTube and Blogspot to routinely
upload self-made music videos. He soon developed a loyal fan base and in 2008,
Brannan released his debut album Goddamned
and followed up with an album of cover songs In Living Color in 2009.
Jordanian-American Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter, Ferras
grew up in a small town in Illinois
where he never felt like he really fit in. After his parents divorced, his
father kidnapped him and brought him to Jordan, where he began playing a
Casio keyboard and began writing his own songs.
Ferras’ first album, Aliens and Rainbows featured the song “Hollywood’s Not America,” which was used as the
exit song for season Seven of American
He has since co-written several songs for artists including Adam Lambert
and The Veronicas, and is currently working on his next album which he hopes to
release in 2011. (It is currently in post-production.)
With his smooth, sweet
voice and his incredible songwriting ability, Ferras is certainly a talent to
watch. And what does openly gay Ferras look for in a mate? “A sense of humor.
And a great ass”.