The Next Generation of Latin LGBTQ Stars: 10 Artists Blazing New Trails
The Next Generation of Latin LGBTQ Stars: 10 Artists Blazing New Trails
The future of Latin music is queer. More than a decade since Ricky Martin kicked down the closet door, many artists in Latin music have openly expressed their queer identities in their songs while concurrently owning the charts. Among the biggest Latin acts in the world right now are Anitta, Kali Uchis, María Becerra and Tokischa, who proudly represent for the LGBTQ+ community.
About the connection she shares with her LGBTQ+ fans, Anitta tells Billboard, “I think they are so lovely and supportive and at the same time, it’s like a big family. We’re all supporting each other. I feel like it’s all about freedom. It’s all about having the freedom to be yourself, to do what you want, to embrace who you are, and not be afraid or scared or embarrassed of anything because that’s just us.”
Being openly queer can be met with a lot of resistance, though. In 2010 when Ricky Martin came out as a gay, he marked a shift in acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community among Latinos in the mainstream media. Following in the Puerto Rican superstar’s wake, many artists like fellow Boricua singer-songwriter Kany García, Joy Huerta of Mexican duo Jesse y Joy, and Colombian singer Esteman have continued to raise the visibility of Latin acts in the LGBTQ+ community.
Now queer Latin acts are not only more visible, but also on top with the emergence of Anitta, Uchis, Becerra and others. In honor of Pride month, here are 10 queer Latin acts to celebrate.
As a Brazilian artist, Anitta has had extra hurdles to jump over in a Latin music scene that’s largely dominated by music in Spanish. From weaving Portuguese, Spanish, and English into her latest album Versions of Me, the trilingual superstar carved out her own niche in the world. Earlier this year, she scored her biggest hit with “Envolver,” which went viral on TikTok thanks to Anitta’s steamy dance moves. The song reached No. 3 on the Hot Latin Songs chart and cracked the Hot 100 chart at No. 70. “Versions of Me” also includes Anitta’s bisexual anthem “Me Gusta.” Cardi B features on the funk carioca banger. Anitta co-headlined LA Pride! In the Park on June 11 alongside LGBTQ+ ally Christina Aguilera.
The Brazilian artists made history at this year’s Coachella Music Festival. Anitta became the first female Brazilian solo artist to perform on the main stage of the event. Her frequent collaborator Pabllo Vittar made history as the first drag queen to perform at Coachella. Vittar is the most-followed drag queen on Instagram with over 12.6 million followers. RuPaul recently tweeted her support of Pabllo Vittar’s historic moment at Coachella. Vittar is continuing to branch out from Brazil by teaming up with global acts like Rina Sawayama in “Follow Me” and Lady Gaga for the “Fun Tonight” remix. In 2020, Luísa Sonza, who is openly bisexual, enlisted Vittar and Anitta for the queer Brazilian anthem “Modo Turbo.”
Kali Uchis is part of the new wave of American-born artists who are embracing their Latino roots in their music. Growing up, she split her time between Alexandra, Virginia and Pereira, Colombia. On her 2020 album, Sin Miedo (del Amor y Otros Demonios), Uchis translated her alternative R&B soul music into Spanish. That Spanglish sound was best exemplified on the global smash “Telepatía,” which cracked the Hot 100 chart at No. 25. The openly bisexual artist also became the first solo female artist to hit No. 1 on the Hot Latin Songs chart in nearly a decade with “Telepatía.” At this year’s Billboard Music Awards, Uchis took home the awards for top Latin female artist and top Latin song for “Telepatía.”
Like Uchis, her frequent collaborator and close friend Omar Apollo is another American-born artist who is embracing his Latino roots in his music. While Apollo prefers to not publicly label his sexuality, he has a history of being openly queer in his songs, going back to 2017’s “Beauty Boy.” On his debut album Ivory, Apollo is the most open he’s ever been about having relationships with men. In “Invincible” with Daniel Caesar, he details his perfect guy as a “Latin boy / Frida Kahlo brow.” He embraces his Mexican roots in ranchera-infused ballad “En El Olvido,” where he says goodbye to a boy that did him wrong. At 2021’s Latin Grammy Awards, Apollo was nominated for record of the year for his feature on C. Tangana’s “Te Olvidaste.”
María Becerra is one of the biggest artists to emerge from Argentina. In 2019, Becerra released her debut EP, 222, in which she sang about her feelings for another woman. In “Dime Como Hago,” the openly bisexual artist sings in Spanish, “I know you’re tired of him / In the nights, you dream about this girl.” With the release of her debut album Animal, Becerra received a Latin Grammy Award nomination for best new artist. J Balvin enlisted Becerra for the global hit “Qué Más Pues.” For the Familia album, Camila Cabello teamed up with Becerra for the disco-pop delight “Hasta Los Dientes” where the two donned drag-like looks in the gloriously campy music video. Becerra’s second album La Nena De Argentina is due out later this year.
This past year, Tokischa toured the U.S. and Latin America with her Popola Tour. “Popola” is Dominican slang for the word “vagina.” The Dominican rapper is known for her sex-positive anthems that have resonated well with women and the LGBTQ+ community. At the same time, Tokischa is proudly pushing forward Dominican dembow music. J Balvin enlisted her for the hot-and-heavy “Perra” while Rosalía teamed up with her twice. The two women joined forces for the femme camaraderie banger “Linda” where they shared a friendly kiss in the music video and the sleek “La Combi Versace.” Tokischa identifies as bisexual. With Marshmello, she came through with this year’s LGBTQ+ Pride anthem “Estilazo.” In the club banger, she spits in Spanish, “Long live the gays!”
Blue Rojo is pushing Latin pop music forward while proudly representing his gay identity in his songs. The Mexican-American singer first created waves online with his personal indie songs like “niñaboy” and “me crucifikkaste.” In 2021, Blue signed with Universal and released his debut album Solitario. Throughout the 12-track, he sings about the pain and heartache of having a crush on a straight man who doesn’t feel the same way. In the music video for electro-pop anthem “No Te Kiero Olvidar,” Blue brought his locker room fantasy with the men’s soccer team captain to life. By the end of the LP, he stands proudly in his queerness and confidence like in the sexy, reggaeton-infused “Eslabón de Bombón.” As a gift for Pride month, Blue re-recorded a fan-favorite track as “Soy Tu Payaso Papi 3000” with a fresh ’80s pop-like angst.
Villano Antillano has become one of the most powerful queer voices in reggaeton and Latin trap music today. With both genres largely dominated by men, the Puerto Rican rapper spits fierce and cutting rhymes from the perspective of a trans woman. In 2020, Antillano broke out with the queer anthem “Pájara” where she proudly reclaimed anti-LGBTQ+ slurs. She also uses her platform to uplift other queer artists in Puerto Rico. In 2021, she teamed up with Ana Macho for the trans-positive banger “Muñeca” and openly queer rapper Young Miko in the sassy “Vendetta.” Villano is the latest artist to collaborate with Argentine producer Bizarrap. In “BZRP Music Sessions #51,” she unloads her swaggering flow with a swiftness. Antillano was recently spotted in the studio with JonTheProducer, who has helped create hits for heavy hitters like Kali Uchis, Rico Nasty, Jennifer Lopez, Becky G and Natti Natasha.
Mabely Largacha, who professionally goes by Mabiland, is an emerging act from Colombia. She proudly represents Quibdó, the capital of Chocó region that has a large Afro-Colombian population. As an openly queer artist, Mabiland sang in Spanish to the woman of her eye in the heartbreaking track “Cuánto Más.” In 2021, she released her second album, Niñxs Rotxs, where she continued to take Latin R&B to new places with elements of hip-hop, soul and trap music. Mabiland explores every part of her intersecting identities in her music, like in the powerful “Wow,” where she spits rhymes about the injustices against the Black community while celebrating Afro-Colombians in the music video. In the doo-wop-influenced “Retrato,” she teams up with fellow Colombian singer Juan Pablo Vega for a heartfelt baby-come-back ballad that hits on a universal level.
Much like her out of this world sound, Arca’s music crosses through multiple worlds and genres of music. The Venezuelan producer has become an important figure in EDM as the genre continues to evolve with her progressive songs. At the same time, Arca is embracing her Latina roots like in the reggaeton-infused “Rakata” and “KLK” with Rosalía, which includes influences of traditional Venezuelan gaita music. Arca’s music is going beyond borders with Sia featuring on “Born Yesterday” and Lady Gaga enlisting Arca for a “Rain On Me” remix. As a transwoman and non-binary artist, Arca is doing away with the music industry’s need to box everything under different labels. Arca has created her own lane that’s authentically true to the visionary musician that she is.
The Next Generation of Latin LGBTQ Stars: 10 Artists Blazing New Trails The future of Latin music is queer. More than a decade since Ricky Martin kicked down the closet door, many artists in Latin music have openly expressed their queer identities in their songs while concurrently owning the charts. Among the biggest Latin acts in…