The idea of a queer musical superstar is now fully accepted. In recent years, we’ve seen musicians talk openly about their gay identity and same-sex relationships. Others have proudly shared their stories about being transgender rockers fighting for visibility. And pop stars have even proclaimed their pansexuality. Fans may openly embrace a gay Elton John, Melissa Etheridge or Ricky Martin now, but over the past 50 years or more it’s been a struggle for most queer artists to live their lives openly and without shame and persecution. Some of these figures – Arthur Russell, Sylvester, Amanda Lepore – have earned cult followings, while others – Jackie Shane, Jobriath, Lavender Country – have remained obscure. But all of their tireless efforts matter. So here we celebrate these 25 pioneers who may not be on everyone’s radar but who helped shape music – from transgender punk rockers to queer disco divas – to influence countless others to forge their own paths today by remaining true to their visions.