Let’s face it: a lot of us are probably feeling a little…ambivalent about celebrating America at the moment. And yet, here we are, at the July 4th holiday weekend, forced to compartmentalize our very real anxiety over the state of American democracy, the erosion of women and birthing people’s fundamental right to control their own bodies, and a looming threat to LGBTQ rights, while at the same time trying to experience some well-deserved joy by way of backyard BBQs, fireworks, etc.
Obviously, the only solution is to swap out all the American flags for Pride flags and pledge allegiance to the fight for LGBTQ rights anew! And while I can’t really conceive of the person who actually includes “The Star-Spangled Banner” on their pool party playlist, you cannot have a summer bash without anthems of the gay variety. Here are five of the all-time greatest gay anthems—big songs with big, celebratory moods and lots of history with the LGBTQ community—to consider for your unapologetically queer Independence Day festivities. Cue the fireworks!
“Born This Way,” Lady Gaga
There’s nothing subtle about Lady Gaga’s 2011 hit single—and some of the lyrics certainly haven’t aged well. (Look to Orville Peck’s 2021 cover for a bit of a course correction on that front.) But if you’re a queer of a certain age, “Born This Way,” with its message of self-acceptance and driving beat, is still sure to get your blood pumping.
“I’m Coming Out,” Diana Ross
It can be easy to forget, but coming out as LGBTQ is in many ways still a radical act, and this Motown classic captures the defiant joy we all hope to feel in that moment. Even if the lyrics weren’t a reference to coming out, Diana Ross’s 1980 single (written by Chic members Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers) would still be an infectious dance floor smash!
“We Are Family,” Sister Sledge
The concept of found family has always been a cornerstone of the movement for LGBTQ rights, and this 1979 track takes the feeling of empowerment that acceptance within the queer community brings and puts a beat to it.
Madonna’s ode to New York’s Black and Brown ballroom scene has been getting gays to the dancefloor since 1990, and it will likely continue to do so as long as there are gays and dance floors left on this earth!
“I Will Survive,” Gloria Gaynor
Things may seem pretty bleak in America right now, but the LGBTQ community and our allies have seen bleak times before, and we’ve lived to tell about them—to sing about them, to dance about them. We’ve survived oppression, AIDS, and a whole lot more. So, it’s no wonder that Gloria Gaynor’s 1978 hit is an essential LGBTQ anthem!