In a recent article, the French newspaper Les Echos reported that over 85 percent of the French now accept gay lifestyles. French and Francophone music about queer identities has grown much more popular in the past ten years, and the musicians we’re highlighting below have each contributed to debunking stereotypes about LGBTQ+ identities! Next year will mark the 10th anniversary of the legalization of same sex marriage in France–we can’t wait to celebrate it. In the meantime, fêtez (celebrate) this year’s pride month with our playlist below!
By Sophia Millman
Angèle – “Ta Reine”
In August 2020, Angèle came out on social media when she posted a picture of herself on Instagram wearing a white t-shirt with “Portrait of women who love women” written on it. In this interview on the popular French show Quotidien, she explains that one of her first crushes was on the little mermaid! She has been in a relationship with Marie Papillon for two years. In “Ta Reine” (“Your Queen”), she describes being in love with a woman. Read the song lyrics in English here. Angèle’s songs feature in many of our playlists; see femininst anthems here, best women musicians here, and French protest songs here.
Bilal Hassani – “Roi”
Bilal Hassani became famous for his YouTube videos and his channel now has over 1 million subscribers. He came out on Twitter in 2017, the day before Pride. In 2019, he represented France in the Eurovision Song Contest and sang “Roi,” whose lyrics combine French and English. Read them here. Practice your French by watching an interview with the artist here!
Charles Trenet – “Johnny, tu me manques”
You probably know legendary French singer Charles Trenet’s song “La Mer,” but did you know that Trenet was close with many members of the famous gay Montparnasse community, including Gabriel Arnaud, Jean Cocteau and Max Jacob? Unlike Cocteau, who was openly homosexual, Trenet never spoke publicly about his private life. “Johnny, tu me manques” (“Johnny, I miss you”) isn’t as explicitly homoerotic as some of the other songs on this list. Nevertheless, many have interpreted it as a song about unfulfilled gay desires.
Christine and the Queens – “iT”
In the New York Times article “Gender Is a Construct: Christine and the Queens Built a Bulldozer,” the author describes how gender-queer and pansexual artist Hélöise Letissier seeks to extend the boundaries of womanhood. Letissier based her character Chris on men and women who inspire her: Madonna, Janet Jackson, Sigourney Weaver, and young Leonardo DiCaprio. “Every masculine hero narrative I could find I wanted to steal for myself and twist to my size,” she explained. You can read the lyrics of “iT” here. Her amazing song “Christine” appears on our “Best French Songs of the 2010s” list.
Eddy de Pretto – “Kid”
In his songs, Eddy de Pretto questions the homophobic and macho norms that surrounded him as a child. He calls these norms “virilité abusive” (“abusive virility” or toxic masculinity). He told the French magazine Les Inrockuptibles: “I try to talk about my personal history and normalize it as much as possible.” In his breakout single, “Kid,” de Pretto describes how parents encourage their “effeminate” sons to be manly. Read the lyrics here. If you want to learn more about de Pretto, read the recent article “Eddy de Pretto Is the Proud Sound of a New France.”
Hoshi – “Amour censure”
During the 2020 Victoires de la Musique ceremony, Hoshi, who was nominated for “Revelation of the Year,” performed her song “Amour Censure”. At the end of her performance, she invited her partner, singer Gia Martinelli, to join her on stage. The two kissed in front of two and a half million viewers. Watch the moment here. Read an English translation of the lyrics of “Amour censure” (“Censored Love”) here.
Pierre Lapointe – “Le monarque des Indes”
French Canadian artist Pierre Lapointe often writes about relationships and sexuality. Lapointe is openly gay and explores LGBTQ+ aethetics in his music videos. Watch the video for “Sais-tu vraiment qui tu es” (“Do you really know who you are”) here. Read an English translation of the lyrics of “Le monarque des Indes” here.
Pomme – “Grandiose”
Growing up, French musician Pomme couldn’t find many lesbian role models. Today, she openly expresses her homosexuality. She recently wrote “Grandiose” about her desire to have children even though she doesn’t believe in traditional family structures. Read the English translation of the lyrics of “Grandiose” here.
Suzane – “Anouchka”
French singer and songwriter Suzane writes about many political subjects in her music, including misogynistic violence, sexual harassment, homophobia, lesbianism, and the ecological crisis. She is committed to strengthening representions of queer people in popular culture and she continually challenges heternormativity with her songs. Suzane is an environmentalist and feminist activist involved in the #NousToutes collective. Read an English translation of the lyrics of “Anouchka” here.
Other songs about the LGBTQ+ experience by Francophone artists that you might enjoy: