25 Essential LGBTQ Pride Songs

From Sylvester to Perfume Genius to everyone in between, editors pick the most evocative, transformative songs

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Village People, "YMCA" (1978)

The Village People were never a mere novelty act or one-hit wonder. The group was assembled and conceived by Frenchman Jacques Morali, who observed in Greenwich Village "very strong, positive male American stereotypes," as Glenn Hughes (the "Biker") explained to Rolling Stone in an April 1979 cover story. "There's a whole mysticism attached to an 'American.'" The sextet got its start in gay clubs but, with a string of hits, expanded to national tours and TV appearances, giving disco an identifiable face. The song which definitively placed them in the pantheon sold a staggering 10 million-plus copies worldwide and remains a wedding and bar mitzvah mainstay, even as it alludes to man-on-man action in public gyms. In that same Rolling Stone story, some members of the band were coy about their sexuality and their following (it was 1979, after all). Demurred David Hodo (Construction Worker) of "Y.M.C.A," "We're sticking our tongue in society's cheek." –JR

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