The 5 Greatest Pro-LGBT Songs of 2013

From pop to country, these tunes were the year's top gay rights anthems.

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ Same Love

(Photo: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ 'Same Love')

Solvej Schou writes regularly for TakePart, and has also contributed to the Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, BBC.com, and Entertainment Weekly.

Diana Ross’ 1980 disco-pop hit “I’m Coming Out.”

Lady Gaga’s 2011 anti-bullying winner “Born This Way.”

Last year’s drag queen–inspired romp “Let’s Have a Kiki,” by the Scissor Sisters.

For decades, songs about freedom and acceptance have been embraced by the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community and have become unofficial anthems.

In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court opened the floodgates for more celebratory tunes by striking down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act and opposing California’s discriminatory Proposition 8, allowing for same-sex marriages to start again in the Golden State. Let’s definitely have a kiki—a big ol’ party—applauding these five top songs celebrating LGBT rights this year:

5. Britney Spears, "Work Bitch"; Mykki Blanco, "Feeling Special"

We'll let these fierce songs duke it out for the No. 5 spot, because we could go either way.

Britney Spears has said that her undeniably catchy club single “Work Bitch,” off the 2013 album Britney Jean, is an ode to drag queen RuPaul’s 1992 hit “Supermodel (You Better Work)” and her LGBT fans.

“For me, the saying 'work, bitch' has been a term of endearment among my gay friends,” Spears told The Advocate.

Others such as Mykki Blanco—the cross-dressing female alter ego of up-and-coming black gay rapper Michael Quattlebaum—say the tune exploits the gay community.

Blanco, who asks to be addressed by female pronouns, loves corsets and bodacious hair much like Britney does and has fearlessly breached lines of gender and sexuality on songs such as 2013’s gritty “Feeling Special.”

4. Kacey Musgraves, "Follow Your Arrow"

Country music isn’t known for being vocal about gay rights.

Breakout star Kacey Musgraves’ single “Follow Your Arrow,” from her 2013 album Same Trailer Different Park, changes all that.

“So, make lots of noise/Kiss lots of boys/Or kiss lots of girls if that's something you're into,” Musgraves coos with a twang on the song’s chorus.

Musgraves told Radio.com, “Regardless of your political beliefs, everybody should be able to love who they want to love and live how they want to live.”

3. Tegan and Sara, "Closer"

A hit dance single off indie-rock sister duo Tegan and Sara’s 2013 album Heartthrob, “Closer” is the kind of romantic ditty that celebrates gay and straight relationships alike. Both out and proud lesbians, the sisters sweetly sing over synthesizer beats, “So let’s make things physical/I won’t treat you like you’re oh so typical.”

The accompanying video includes women kissing, laughing, and shimmying. Photographed for pro-gay marriage campaign NOH8, Tegan has said that though Canadian, she and Sara vow to remain unmarried in solidarity with the millions who don't have the same rights as them around the world.

2. Sara Bareilles, "Brave"

As for the best coming-out anthem of 2013, Sara Bareilles’ joyful hit pop single “Brave,” from her 2013 album The Blessed Unrest, is it. Influenced by a friend’s struggle to come out of the closet, the Grammy-nominated song has a hook made punchier by Bareilles' belting out, “Let the words fall out/Honestly, I wanna see you be brave.” The song’s video, directed by actor Rashida Jones, features Bareilles and people of all backgrounds dancing their asses off. “I think there’s so much honor and integrity and beauty in being able to be who you are,” Bareilles told The Advocate.

1. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, "Same Love"

Seattle rapper Macklemore and producer Ryan Lewis’ single "Same Love," featuring lesbian singer Mary Lambert’s soulful chorus “I can't change/Even if I tried/Even if I wanted to,” smashed through Billboard’s Top 40 chart in 2013, snagged a 2014 Song of the Year Grammy nomination, and became one of this year’s biggest rallying cries for same-sex equality. It glides on lyrics cowritten by Macklemore—aka Ben Haggerty—about personal identity, his gay uncle, and homophobia in hip-hop and religion.

Though he was criticized in some circles for being a straight white man rapping about gay rights, Macklemore has defended the song, telling Grammy.com, “It's timed very well with what's happening in the nation and what's happening on the forefront of civil rights in America.”

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