#GrammysSoStraight: Where Did All the Queer Musicians Go?

In the ranking of endless industry awards shows, The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences’ annual Grammy Awards have always been the most diverse. But a quick perusal of the 2017 nominees exposes a severe lack of LGBTQ nominees. Could it be that, like last year’s #OscarsSoWhite, the recording industry has a severe blind spot, or only sees through heteronormative eyes? In 2017, are #GrammysSoStraight?

From my homonormative perspective, the answer is yes.

Of the nearly 83 categories this year—of roughly 415 nominations—there are two lesbians (Brandy Clark and Tig Notaro), two bisexuals (Sia Furler and Halsey), a few gay men from Pentatonix and one straight man who has admitted to experimenting (Panic! At the Disco’s Brendon Urie). With apologies to David Bowie, who hadn’t been gay in ages and is not included in our list above, no doubt there are unknowns within the rap and jazz and classical and—oh, you know it—gospel and contemporary Christian categories. But up-front and center? Not so much. Not even in the trusted dance genres.

While it’s all well and good to speculate, there needs to be, you know, viable LGBTQ artists and music worthy of awards. And without a big commercial release from Sam Smith last year, it might have been difficult to find contenders. Yet they’re out there.

So during the Grammys eligibility window—Oct. 1, 2015 to Sept. 30, 2016—what could have been considered?

Here are a few prime choices that the voting block should keep on their radars from LGBTQ and LGBTQ-friendly artists:

John Grant’s Grey Tickles, Black Pressure would have fit nicely in both the alternative and electronic categories, and even the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for “Disappointing” with Everything but the Girl’s Tracey Thorn.

Tegan and Sara’s Love You to Death could have been a shoe-in for a number of slots, especially their gender-bending single “Boyfriend.”

GrimesArt Angels inched her closer to the mainstream, and though “Venus Fly” featuring Janelle Monae or any of the other 14 future-electro tracks got no traction with voters, there’s always hope for next time.

Troye Sivan should have been a lock for Best New Artist or the Best Music Video category for his fantastic Blue Neighbourhood Trilogy.

Anohni’s transformation from art-cabaret cult act to electronic protest artist came full circle with her game-changing Hopelessness. As a vocalist, she’s up there with Sam Smith (just check out “Drone Bomb Me”), and as a transgender performer with an Academy Award nomination under her belt, can Grammy be far behind?

Car Seat Headrest put out the best alternative album of 2016 with Teens of Denial, yet no love was given to Will Toledo’s kick-ass power quartet. “Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales” was even in heavy rotation on taste-making radios/streaming services.

There were others, to be sure. Too many to mention.

And though, as noted above, Grammy voters have been honorable proponents of diversity, this year they fell short.

(It also didn’t help that Frank Ocean removed his Blonde out of contention.)

Maybe, amongst those 83 categories, they can add a new one for Best LGBTQ Artist or Album or Whatever? Surely there’s room amidst Best Contemporary Instrumental Album or Best Regional Mexican Music Album (Including Tejano).

Just a thought.


(Featured image: Sam Smith cradles his awards at the 2015 Grammys)

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