15 of The Greatest LGBT Icons In Rock

June 5, 2019

These days there is a much greater acceptance of those in the LGBTQ community. But there have been many rock icons throughout the years that have helped pave the way for other members of the gay community to come forward and embrace their true selves.

That is why we assembled a list of the greatest gay icons in all of rock throughout the ages:

1. Freddie Mercury of Queen

The greatest frontman with the greatest voice in not just rock, but arguably in all of music, Freddie Mercury was not very publicly open about his sexuality. However, he remains a powerful icon in both the rock community and the LGBTQ community. He passed away on November 24th, 1991 due to complications with AIDS.

2. Rob Halford of Judas Priest

Recognizably one of the biggest icons in all of heavy metal, Rob Halford came out as gay during the '90s. Fearing backlash from the metal community, which was stigmatized as being voilent, anti-social and unaccepting, Halford received nothing but praise and support.

3. Joan Jett of The Runaways

Starting out in the all-girl rock ensemble The Runaways in the '70s, Joan Jett later embarked on a solo career as Joan Jett and The Blackhearts in 1979. Although Jett has not confirmed nor denied rumors that she is a lesbian or bisexual, she simply told people to believe what they want about her. Runaways guitarist Lita Ford however admitted that she briefly left the band due to the amount of "lesbianism" being expressed by her bandmates.

4. David Bowie

Known for his androgynous alter-ego Ziggy Stardust, David Bowie became a symbol for the gay community during the '70s after he revealed that he was bisexual. Later admitting that he was more of a closeted heterosexual, he married supermodel Iman in 1992. Bowie passed away on January 10th, 2016 from liver cancer.

5. Elton John

Probably one of the most popular gay artists in the world, Elton John has been open about his sexuality since the '70s and married his partner David Furnish in 1993. He continues to tour to this day and announced a three-year farewell tour in January 2018.

6. Pete Townshend of The Who

In an old Rolling Stone interview, The Who guitarist Pete Townshend implied that he was gay, but maintains his stance that his comments were taken out of context. His song "Rough Boys" has long been praised as a "coming out" song, even though Townshend has been married or involved with women for his entire adult life. He later describes himself as "probably bisexual" in his 2012 memoir Who I Am.

7. Janis Joplin

As one of the strongest female voices in all of rock and roll, Janis Joplin's close friend Myra Friedman revealed in her biography that Joplin was bisexual. Claiming Joplin had multiple male and female partners, she was less open about the women, yet not secretive about them either.  

8. Dave Davies of The Kinks

In the mid-1960's, British rockers The Kinks were pushing out hits like "You Really Got Me" and "All Day and All of the Night." Lead guitarist Dave Davies was also a big participant in the sexual revolution of the time, having relations with both men and women, which he reveals in his 1996 memoir Kink.

9. Roddy Bottum of Faith No More

Keyboardist for Faith No More, Bottum came out as homosexual in 1993. He even wrote the song "Be Aggressive" about performing oral sex on a man, solely just to embarass the band's straight lead singer Mike Patton.

10. Chuck Panozzo of Styx

Longtime bassist of Styx Chuck Panozzo revealed at a Human Rights Campaign dinner in 2001 that he was gay and had been living with HIV. Panozzo reveals in his autobiography The Grand Illusion: Love, Lies and My Life with Styx that he had struggled with his sexuality for decades and hid it from his bandmates and fans. He said that by coming out, he would later inspire other closeted people to come out without any fear.

11. Adam Lambert

Rising to fame after coming in second in season 8 of American Idol, Adam Lambert went public with his sexuality shortly after the competition was over. He has since toured the world fronting with his favorite band of all time, Queen.

12. Laura Jane Grace of Against Me!

Laura Jane Grace, trans frontwoman of the punk rock outfit Against Me!, came out publicly about being trans in May 2012 shortly after meeting a transgender fan.

13. Lou Reed of Velvet Underground

Lou Reed has been very open discussing his bisexuality and is credited for being the first rock artist to write songs about transgender women. Reed later married his wife Laurie Anderson for 21 years before he passed away of liver disease in 2013 at the age of 71.

14. Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day

Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong came out as bisexual in 1995, believing that all people are born bisexual and social toboos force them to stay heterosexual.

15. Melissa Etheridge

Singer/songwriter Melissa Etheridge has been a longtime gay rights activist who came out in 1993 at Bill Clinton's first presidential inauguration. In an interview with The Daily Beast, she hopes that in the future members of the LGBT community will be more accepted by society. "LGBT will be just another color in the crayon box of all kinds of beautiful mixes. There won’t be separations any more, we will be all included."