The countdown has begun for the 34th Annual GLAAD Media Awards! The GLAAD Media Awards honor media for fair, accurate, and inclusive representations of LGBTQ people and issues. With so many incredible artists being celebrated this year, it’s nearly impossible to pick a favorite.
In a year filled with so much hate and violence against the LGBTQ community, it’s so important to have musicians celebrating their truth and unapologetically creating art for us to enjoy and relate to.
The Breakthrough Music Artist category honors musicians who use songs, music videos and live performances to accelerate LGBTQ acceptance and have achieved breakthrough success in the year 2022. This year’s nominees include an incredibly diverse range of identities, genres, and stories told through their art.
Here are the nominees for Breakthrough Music Artist!
The country scene hasn’t always been the most accepting place for the LGBTQ community, but so much has changed in recent years thanks to outspoken allies like Kacey Musgraves, Maren Morris, and up and coming queer artists like Brooke Eden. Eden got her start on American Idol back in 2011, but her career has since blossomed with the release of her 2022 album “Choosing You.” The album chronicles her life stories of love and loss with hits like “Left You For Me.”
Lyrics “This kind of buzz don’t sober up, ain’t no gravity when you’re next to me, I love the way you got me levitating,” from “Off The Ground” highlight Eden’s love for her wife Hilary Hoover. The couple graced the cover of People Magazine with their beautiful wedding photos in October 2022.
Bisexual rapper Doechii took the internet by storm in 2020 with her self produced – Junie B. Jones – inspired confessional song “Yucky Blucky Fruitcake.” The artist’s uniqueness has since launched her into mainstream success, with her 2022 EP “she / her / black bitch,” featuring some of the biggest names in music including SZA and Rico Nasty. At only 24 years old, Doechii is the first female rapper to be signed by Top Dawg Entertainment, was named the 2023 Rising Star at the Billboard Women in Music Awards, and is letting the world know that “this bitch matters!”
Dove Cameron first entered the scene in 2012 as an actress on Showtime’s Shameless followed by her lead roles of both title characters on Disney’s 2013 series Liv and Maddie. Following her role of Mal in the Descendants franchise, Cameron was signed by Columbia’s Disruptor Records label and launched her musical debut with the 2022 single “Boyfriend.” The song went viral on Tik Tok and was used in over 500,000 videos on the app, quickly being certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.
“Boyfriend” easily secured its spot among the sapphic songs of the year with lyrics like “I could be such a gentleman, plus all my clothes would fit, I could be a better boyfriend.”
Fans may remember Dreamer Isioma from their viral 2020 song “Sensitive,” that went down in Tik Tok history as a “quarantine classic.” The R&B artist has since dropped 2 albums “Goodnight Dreamer” and “The Leo Sun Sets,” and is touring the country on their “Love and Rage” tour this spring. The transmasculine singer is unapologetically himself, documenting their transition online and proudly declaring “I’m the king of me.”
The Nigerian-American singer-songwriter was recently profiled in Vogue where they stated that their fashion sense can be summed up with the phrase “drip has no gender.”
Ethel Cain’s “Preacher’s Daughter” has to be one of the most unique albums of the year. Inspired by her perspective as a trans woman raised in a conservative Southern Baptist community, the gothic album tells the story of a fictional character Cain created that Pitchfork describes as “a tragic heroine in a doomed romance, on the run from their past and still bearing family traumas.” The album was produced under the artist’s own record label “Daughters of Cain.”
The most notable song to come from the concept album is “American Teenager,” which has over 14 million streams on Spotify alone. Cain describes the song as “an expression of my frustration with all the things the ‘American Teenager’ is supposed to be but never had any real chance of becoming.” She explained in an interview with Pitchfork that, “What they don’t tell you is that you need your neighbor more than your country needs you.” The song even earned a spot on Barack Obama’s 2022 favorites list.
Members of the LGBTQ community who have a complicated relationship with religion can relate to lyrics like “Listening to the choir so heartfelt, all singing ‘God loves you, but not enough to save you,” in “Sun Bleached Flies.”
Indie-pop singer-songwriter Isaac Dunbar is “exploring his inner villain” in his 2022 album “Banish The Banshee.” In an Instagram story, Dunbar revealed that the song “Banish the Banshee” is “about growing up gay and Christian, bullying, feeling alien to others.” He went on to say, “it’s a rejection liberation anthem.”
“I was a witch in a crowd of nuns, I stood out and they hated my light, They could banish the banshee, To break their curse, So they banished me, banished me, And I made it worse,” he says in the song.
At just 16-years-old, Dunbar was signed by RCA Records. Dunbar is also a part of GLAAD and Sony’s upcoming project “ICONS.” “ICONS” is a three-part episodic video series, helping to amplify LGBTQ voices in the industry and advance LGBTQ inclusion in music.
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2022 was a busy year for pop artist Jordy. In addition to touring the country, dropping multiple singles, and an acoustic version of his EP “Mind Games,” Jordy has also been preparing for the release of his brand-new album “BOY,” set to come out this April. The album features the soon-to-be classic “Story of a Boy.” Jordy’s “Story of a Boy” is a modern, queer take on the 2000 bop “Story of a Girl” by Nine Days, starting with the lyrics “This is the story of a boy, I’d adore him if I had a choice.” The song has already taken Tik Tok by storm, with transgender users using the song to document their transition.
@lucas_w72 An interesting story for sure… #lgbtq #trans #transftm #transmen #queer #thisisthestoryofagirl #glowup #transisitionftm #transtrend #thisisthestoryofaboy#greenscreen ♬ story of a boy – JORDY
In an interview with MTV, Jordy said the song is “an homage to his younger queer self.” John Hampson, the singer of the original track, had never given anyone else permission to use the song before Jordy. Hampson told MTV that, “This is really deeper than some three-minute pop song. There’s a bigger meaning here that I think is fantastic.”
Omar Apollo made waves in the music industry in 2022. From being nominated for the Best New Artist Grammy award, winning Variety Hitmakers “Future Icon” award, and releasing his 2022 album “Ivory,” Apollo is so much more than his Tik Tok chart topping hit, “Evergreen,” which spent 7 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart. The genre-hopping, bilingual album features unapologetically queer tracks like “Pretty Boy,” with the lyrics “You’re so pretty boy, pretty like the ocean and sky at night.”
Rolling Stone called Apollo “a freaking star” and gave “Ivory” a stellar review. The iconic magazine called the album “magnetic” and stated that his “maturity grounds the project, and the songs stay playful yet tender, free yet focused.” On top of all this, Apollo is now touring with SZA on her North American tour.
Whether you know her as Regina George from Broadway’s Mean Girls, Leighton from HBO’s Sex Lives of College Girls, or from her 2022 album “Everything to Everyone,” there is no denying Renée Rapp’s talent. The 23-year-old has been outspoken about the ups and downs of coming out as bisexual. She recently opened up in an interview with Alex Cooper stating, “I had never heard anything surrounding [being gay] in a positive light because the one queer person that I knew in my life is a family member of mine who I really looked up to, who got absolutely shitted on by everybody in our family,” on the Call Her Daddy podcast. She went on to say that “To be honest, I feel like my genuine coming out to my family – close and extended – has been doing College Girls. Because now that part of me is on display in a very palatable way.”
Her debut album “Everything to Everyone” celebrates her bisexuality with lyrics like “Down at the local dive, I’d meet some young ex-wife, we’d start a brand new life, and never be lonely,” in “Colorado” and “Your boyfriend’s in the bathroom and I’m holding your hand, I wonder if he notices the things that I can,” in “What Can I Do.”
Rapp recently made her late night talk show debut on “The Late Late Show with James Corden.”
Steve Lacy is changing the face of R&B music. Not only is Lacy proudly and openly bisexual, but his alternative, indie twist on the genre has had the internet completely captivated since the drop of his most recent album “Gemini Rights.” Songs like “Bad Habit” and “Static” have been the music behind millions of Tik Toks and some of the most streamed songs of 2022, skyrocketing Lacy’s stardom. But Lacy’s genre bending music is so much more than a viral trend. At only 24 years old, he is already being compared to icons like Prince and Stevie Wonder.
“Gemini Rights” was described as “Brilliantly Mercurial” in a rave review by Rolling Stone. It was no surprise when the album won Best Progressive R&B Album at the 2023 Grammy Awards.
“How many work on self-acceptance like me? How many face a situation like me? I wonder, oh, how many out there just like me? How many others not gon’ tell their family? How many scared to lose their friends like me?” are empowering lines from “Like Me” on his debut album. His one of a kind voice and lyrical talent have already secured Lacy’s icon status within the queer community and beyond.
The GLAAD Media Awards ceremonies, which fund GLAAD’s work to accelerate LGBTQ acceptance, will be held in Los Angeles at the Beverly Hilton on Thursday, March 30, 2023, and in New York City at the Hilton Midtown on Saturday, May 13, 2023. To purchase tickets for the 34th Annual GLAAD Media Awards, please visit: www.glaad.org/mediaawards/tickets