Billboard Pride, the queer-focused vertical of renowned music publication Billboard magazine, launched in June 2017 (that’s right, Pride Month!) “It is very clear that there is an audience who has been starved from hearing their identities reflected in music, so to be able to provide that to the LGBTQ community has been really affirming.” Billboard Pride editor Patrick Crowley recently shared with me.
According to a profile in Out Magazine, Crowley had been with Billboard for three years prior to Billboard Pride’s launch. He worked as an art director for the mag when his love of pop music, expertise in graphic design, and journalism degree brought the perfect confluence to a meeting table and lead to a successful queer soft pitch. Crowley went all in with a month’s worth of content, and Billboard Pride was born. It launched to fantastic success — support at Billboard, and an immense response from hungry queer fans.
So often, queer stories focus on the L and G of the LGBTI community, with a story about a RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant sprinkled in. But to my absolute delight, Billboard has been reflecting many ways to be a queer creative. Queer artists have made connections and even gotten record deals through Billboard Pride’s spotlight. According to Crowley in Out Magazine, this is a part of his personal mission. “As queer creatives, we should be lifting each other up and supporting each other whenever we have the opportunity.”
Recent articles highlight new projects and other news-making from bi artists such as Kesha, Lady Gaga, Halsey, and our Bi Song of the Summer "Kiss the Boy’s" Keiynan Lonsdale, bringing a comforting normalization of bi folks’ queerness to the site. So often bi artists are treated like allies to the queer community if it’s been more than a news cycle or two since they claimed their queerness — it’s refreshing to see Billboard Pride’s coverage incorporates bi+ artists without condition.
The other side of this lovely coin is Billboard Pride’s continued practice of visibility for bi+ artists. There’s a pretty easy (though a bit hard on the heart) way I use to weed out what “LGBTI” sites are worth my bi self’s time — I go to the search bar and type in "bisexual". Often the most recent articles that come up are so old I get the urge to blow dust off of them. But search for "bisexual" on Billboard Pride and you’ll get loads of returns — and they’re fresh as a queer daisy. Using the words bisexual and pansexual brings vital visibility to the non-monosexual community. Did you know bi people make up over half of the LGB population? Our numbers are great, and according to Billboard Pride, so is our music.
“It’s exciting to live in a time when bi and pan people are finally seeing themselves represented authentically in mainstream media. Halsey had a top 10 hit with ‘Bad At Love’ earlier this year, a song where she very specifically sings about both male and female ex-lovers. Artists like Janelle Monae and Panic! At The Disco’s Brendon Urie opened up about being pansexual.” Crowley told me.
Over and over with Billboard Pride, bisexuality is named, increasing the visibility of this often erased identity. Taylor Bennett’s shout out to his bi identity was named one of the ‘Billboard Hot 100 Festival 2018: Best Moments From Day One’. Interviews include Gab Ginsberg’s recent conversation with Janelle Monáe in which she states “I still am a young, black, queer woman”. Coverage by Crowley highlights Monáe’s interview with queer artist Lena Waithe for Hypebeast delving into Monáe’s decision to come out as pansexual. In ‘Bella Thorne Is Feeling Herself in Confident ‘Pussy Mine’ Music Video’ writer Stephen Daw notes after coming out in 2016, “Thorne has embraced her bisexual identity.”
The Out Magazine profile intimates that Billboard Pride has lead to greater queer visibility in Billboard as a whole. It’s easy to see how this is likely the case, especially for bi artists who are dealing with the added erasure of bisexuality. Without Billboard Pride’s influence, we may not have seen this direct and clear Billboard News review of the controversy surrounding Halsey’s June video release — in which Halsey had to publicly state, after complaints about the lack of queer content in the video, that the video was bi and continued to be queer even if the protagonist ended up with a man.
Earlier this year, Lucy & La Mer’s Lucy LaForge came out as bi in Billboard Pride on the eve of the release of her single "Rebel Babe". When asked about the experience, she said “They were so supportive in the interview. Just very friendly. That was so nice to speak to such a big music publication that is so in touch with bisexuality.”