Jump here for the top 10!
As we bow out Pride Month, much has gone on in the world surrounding LGBTQ issues and rights to reflect upon. Sad things that happened in the last month alone include:
- The UK government debated the exclusion of trans people in their ban on conversion therapy, which they had made a U-turn on (there is currently just one openly trans MP in Parliament)
- The controversial Don’t Say Gay bill continued to gain momentum in Florida
- The spread of monkeypox was widely and unfairly blamed by some on gay and bisexual men and Africans
- The international governing body of swimming banned any transfeminine athlete who transitioned after age 12 from competing in the women’s division of elite swimming competitions
- The terrible attack in and around a gay bar in Oslo, the night before the city’s Pride parade
However, in more positive news:
- Rugby player Nick McCarthy, Olympian Kelly Holmes and actress Rebel Wilson all publicly and bravely come out as gay
- Thailand made history as first Southeast Asian country to legalise same-sex unions
- J.Lo introduced her child to the world with gender-neutral pronouns
- Despite Supreme Court‘s stance on LGBT rights, the number of Americans who back same-sex marriage was at a record high
- Warsaw and Kyiv Prides combined in the Polish capital to show solidarity with Ukraine and its LGBTQ citizens
But one celebrity who made headlines and divided opinion – again – is Christina Aguilera. A staunch advocate for LGBTQ rights and a lifelong ally to the LGBTQ community, Xtina took to the stage at LA Pride a couple of weeks ago. Her second time to do so in recent years after performing a rousing rendition of Accelerate with some drag queens, this time she put on a full set.
Her headlining performance was one of her most extravagant to date. Featuring guest appearances from socialite friend Paris Hilton, former collaborator Mya and trans pop star Kim Petras, Christina went all out in more ways than one. Donning an outfit in every Pride colour – except purple it seems for some reason – and ending in a full multicoloured Pride one-piece, Aguilera took inspiration from 80s Madonna, futuristic disco glam and what appeared to be Marvel for her Dirrty-iest getup to date, which further polarised most people’s opinions of her. It was like She-Hulk meets porn parody meets pop culture as she paraded about wearing a diamond-encrusted dildo to match her kinky, otherworldly cosplay costume.
Was it a hint she was going to be in the upcoming Marvel TV series She-Hulk: Attorney at Law? Or that she’s venturing into porn? Was it a new fashion statement about female strength and the blurred lines of masculinity? Or was she simply expressing herself and her sexuality openly and with no holes barred as she always has done and inspired her fans to do the same? Whatever it was, it got jaws dropping and tongues wagging.
But behind the eye-popping outfits is a superstar who reaffirmed her love, gratitude and support for the community and whose back catalogue has long been a staple of many LGBTQ’s peoples lives since as early as 1998 even before she was a instantly global gay icon. So here is my rundown of top 10 favourite songs by Xtina that are considered real LGBTQ anthems.
When Christina teamed up with fellow gay icon and pop queen predecessor Cher for the musical drama Burlesque, fans of both were really excited and like me, hopeful for a duet. Sadly this didn’t materialise. But the soundtrack we did get was a sexy throwback to the 20s, 30s and 40s akin to her Back to Basics album. “Express” was one of the songs that stood out and one Aguilera has performed several times since 2010 and as with many of her LGBTQ anthems, it has been performed and re-interpreted by drag queens everywhere.
“Reflection” from Mulan is a song that even since its release has been hailed as a “coming out” anthem due to its lyrics of seeing and accepting who you truly are and no longer hiding that from others and the outside world. The Disney Legend then re-recorded and re-released the song for the 2020 live-action version of the film, breathing new life into it and bringing it in front of a brand new audience as well.
Fun, fabulous and filthy, “Vanity” is the closing track to Bionic and its self-loving, sassy and tongue in cheek attitude and humour has been a hit with many, including – like “Express” – drag queens. Its catchiness and camp cockiness alone make it an LGBTQ anthem that doesn’t take itself too seriously and simply gets people up to dance and celebrate and love themselves – because as she says in the song and before RuPaul did “can’t love no one else, ’til you love yourself”.
7) Unless It’s With You
A gorgeous ballad that closes the Liberation album, “Unless It’s With You” is singing to someone and about vowing only to marry if that someone is them. It became an LGBTQ anthem when Xtina sang it on her Liberation Tour and had several couples propose and get engaged live on stage, including of course at least one gay couple.
Christina Aguilera has been fighting for herself and her career for more than two decades and has fought for the underdog and spoken of her understanding of how much the LGBTQ community has fought for even longer to just be themselves and to love who they want as well. “Fighter” from the legendary Stripped album is an all-round pop-rock anthem about standing up for yourself and your rights against the wrongs you have faced in life, hence it being a favourite LGBTQ anthem for her fans.
5) Not Myself Tonight
The video for “Not Myself Tonight” from Bionic caused as big a stir as “Dirrty” did eight years before, showing that despite what seemed to be some progress in society, people still got shocked by things in pop culture. It saw Aguilera perhaps be her sexiest and naughtiest yet, which included her and tied-up dancer Jenna Dewan in some kinky girl-on-girl action that mimicked the line “I’m kissing all the boys and the girls”. Although she has not publicly labelled her sexuality, Xtina has spoken frequently and candidly of her love of women’s bodies – more so than that of men’s, and rumours have swirled of her alleged bisexuality at least. But of course, as we learnt with Whitney Houston, speculation of celebrities’ sexualities is never a good idea.
4) Fall in Line
Teaming up with fellow LGBTQ icon, Demi Lovato, Christina Aguilera released this critically-acclaimed song from Liberation. Already known as a female empowerment anthem, Fall in Line can also be relatable to the LGBTQ rights movement as it talks about fighting against oppression and showing strength in the face of adversary. And its march-like beat could easily be played in Pride parades as people march for their rights and freedom, as it demonstrated in the above interlude performance at LA Pride, challenging the Don’t Say Gay bill.
3) Let There Be Love
A Billboard Dance Club Song chart topper despite the fact it was never officially released as a single from Lotus, “Let There Be Love” is a banger, whose music video made it an instant “love is love” and “love wins” anthem. In it, people can be seen holding up signs saying “don’t judge”, “equality”, “just be” and “amo a mi hijo gay (I love my gay son)”, as well as “racism sucks”.
Of course, the song she wrapped up her set with (and wraps up most of her sets), Beautiful is as much a must-have on everybody’s Pride playlist as it is on her setlist. As I’ve said before it is a song for EVERYBODY, no matter who they are or what they identify as, making it one of the most universally relatable songs of all time. The music video’s depiction of people from the LGBTQ community and its several awards as an LGBTQ anthem secure it as probably the world’s most popular.
Released back in June 2016 and dedicated to the Orlando nightclub shooting which happened just days before, Change – co-written with openly gay singer-songwriter Jake Hagood – is a beautiful and poignant, yet relatively unheard of and underrated ode to the change that clearly needs to happen in the world. It’s a much more restrained vocal and instrumental, but its minimal production speaks just as much volume as her other songs. It’s just a shame she has rarely performed it and didn’t at LA Pride, which was roughly 6 years to the day in which the song was released.
Happy Pride, everyone and remember – Pride is not just a chance to be support and celebrate your LGBTQ friends, family or colleagues or yourself for one month but for every day and every month!