The Power of the Gay Following

Is the love some artists give the LGBT community genuine or just about garnering a strong fan base?

On one hand, we live in a society that is still very homophobic despite some small progress. But ironically, the gay community drives some of pop culture’s leading trends. Even Samantha Jones in an episode of Sex and the City once said to budding actor Smith Jarrod, “First you win over the gays, then the teenage girls, then Hollywood will follow.” Tyra Banks, Kimora Lee and Naomi Campbell learned how to walk from a man, “Miss J” (J. Alexander). Patti LaBelle has a huge gay following, which was no surprise since her style borrowed a page from the book of drag queens. Derek J is one of the leading celebrity hairstylists in the country, probably the world, and the list goes on.


My point is, having a gay following can be beneficial to an artist’s career and while artists in the past may have gained said fans unintentionally, divas like Nicki Minaj, Lady Gaga and even rapper Lil’ B, have purposefully made it work for themselves. Here’s why: People will like them for being pro gay, which opens up chances to perform more places, and people who are anti-gay will still track their every move because they want to track their enemy. In other words, it’s a hate crush.


Most celebrities in today’s pop culture get famous because they either hopped on any bandwagon that rode by or because there’s some shock factor attached to their schtick. Lil’ B named his debut album I’m Gay, which in theory could be career suicide for a rapper. However, it turned out to be a smart marketing move because Lil’ B’s whole existence is based on outrageous behavior. By declaring that he is “gay"—which he has explained that he means it in the original sense of the word (“happy")—he is taking away some of the stigma that the word has developed over the past few decades. However, he still managed to piss some people off in the process. Lil’ B’s plan is working, albeit disingenuous.


Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj are probably more sincere given each of their backgrounds, but in today’s blog culture it’s "cool" to be outspoken. Therefore, more artists will probably champion LGBT rights whether they are genuine or not. It’s a smart move either way you look at it because not only will they draw more attention to themselves, but it forces more people to talk and face issues (and their own feelings) that affects the gay community today, primarily marriage and bigotry. What better way to do it than through music, the language of the world?


Having a gay following can lockdown the longevity of an artist. So, all you up and coming pop stars, R&B divas and the occasional hip hop head, be good to the LGBT community and you might have a career like Janet Jackson, Chaka Khan, or Diana Ross.  


Click here to see some of the greatest gay icons. 


(Photo: Brad Barket/PictureGroup)

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