Our Favourite Reads | LGBTQIA+ History Month

As we mark LGBTQIA+ History month at ICMP, take a look at these books curated in our LRC.


We're marking LGBTQIA+ History Month at ICMP and celebration recognises the importance of inclusion in society and honours the rich history and contributions of the community.

This article will be the latest addition to our newly established hub celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community.

Here you'll find a round-up of just some of the books that we have curated in our library for our students and are well worth diving into yourself too.

Favourite Reads

Honoring Trans And Gender - Expansive Students In Music Education

by Matthew L. Garrett and Joshua Palkki


Trans and gender-expansive youth deserve a safe and empowering space to engage in high quality school music experiences.

Supportive music teachers ensure that all students have access to ethically and pedagogically sound music education. In this practical resource, authors Matthew L. Garrett (he/him) and Joshua Palkki (he/him) encourage music educators to honor gender diversity through ethically and pedagogically sound practices.

'Honoring Trans and Gender-Expansive students in Music Education' is intended for music teachers and music teacher educators across choral, instrumental, and general music classroom environments. Grounded in theory and nascent research, we provide historical and social context, and practical direction for working with students who inhabit a variety of spaces among a gender identity and expression continuum. Trans and gender expansive students often place their trust in music teachers, with whom they have developed a deep bond over time. It is essential, then, for music teachers to understand how issues of gender play out in formal and informal school music environments. Stories of trans and gender-expansive youth and their music teachers anchor practical suggestions for honoring students in school music classrooms and more general school contexts.

Favourite Reads

David Bowie Made Me Gay: 100 Years Of LGBT Music

by Darryl W. Bulldock


From the birth of jazz in the red-light district of New Orleans, through the rock 'n' roll years, swinging sixties and all-singing and all dancing disco days of the seventies, to modern pop, electronica and reggae the LGBT community has played a crucial role in modern music.

At the turn of the twentieth century, recording technology for the first time brought the messages of LGBT artists from the cabaret stage into the homes of millions. Their personal struggle and threat of persecution during decades of political and historical turmoil - including two world wars, Stonewall and the AIDS crisis - has led to some of the most significant and soul-searching music of the last century. Bullock brings to light the colourful legacy that has shaped our musical and cultural landscape, revealing the inspiring and often heartbreaking stories of internationally renowned LGBT artists from Billie Holiday and Dusty Springfield to Frankie Goes to Hollywood and George Michael and of numerous lesser-known names that have driven the revolution from all corners of the globe.

A treasure-trove of untold history for all music lovers, 'David Bowie Made Me Gay' is a moving, nostalgic and provocative reminder of how far the fight for equality has come, and the battles that are still to be waged.

Favourite Reads

Queer Voices : Technologies, Vocalities, and the Musical Flaw

by Freya Jarman-Ivens


This book argues that there are some important implications of the role the voice plays in popular music when thinking about processes of identification. The central thesis is that the voice in popular music is potentially uncanny (Freud's unheimlich), and that this may invite or guard against identification by the listener.

Popular music's gay DNA is inarguable, from Elvis in eye shadow and Little Richard's 'Tutti Frutti' to The Velvet Underground's subversive rock'n'roll and Bowie's ambisexual alien Ziggy Stardust; from kd lang's female Elvis to Kurt Cobain in a dress; from noughties lesbian icon Beth Ditto to Lady Gaga's 'Born This Way' manifesto.

But if collected essays and/or features have addressed gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender singers, songwriters, musicians and songs, no book has yet comprehensively and authoritatively drawn together all the threads to explore this as an unfolding, historical narrative: to tell the story of how music 'came out', from the days when homosexuals were deeply in the closet, but the love that once dared not speak its name sings it, and on daytime radio to boot.

This story will reveal which songs have coded messages about sexuality, and which proudly declared the truth, including examples of heterosexual songwriters and singers who chose to address same-sex issues, from Rod Stewart's 'The Killing Of Georgie' - the first UK number one with a gay theme - to Suede's 'Animal Nitrate'. The narrative will unfold against a backdrop of historic social and political shifts, as LGBT rights pushed for visibility and equality, from the closet of the Fifties to the struggle and setbacks of the Sixties, the liberation of the seventies, the mainstream invasion and AIDS crisis of the Eighties, the advances of the Nineties and the more immersed scene of the noughties. These artists have indeed changed the world as we know it.

This is a story for a wide audience, not just the LGBT community but a broad spectrum of music lovers who are fascinated by these characters, events, stories and songs. It is also a very timely tale, given the prominence of same-sex issues such as marriage equality, alongside the retrogressive steps in places such as Russia and parts of Africa, where songs encapsulating the gay/lesbian experience mirror those of the sixties, signifying how the journey from illegality and bigotry to freedom is still far from over.

Favourite Reads

Queer Voices In Hip Hop : Cultures, Communities, And Contemporary Performance

by Lauron J. Kehrer


Notions of hip hop authenticity, as expressed both within hip hop communities and in the larger American culture, rely on the construction of the rapper as a Black, masculine, heterosexual, cisgender man who enacts a narrative of struggle and success.

In 'Queer Voices in Hip Hop', Lauron Kehrer turns our attention to openly queer and trans rappers and positions them within a longer Black queer musical lineage. Combining musical, textual, and visual analysis with reception history, this book reclaims queer involvement in hip hop by tracing the genre's beginnings within Black and Latinx queer music-making practices and spaces, demonstrating that queer and trans rappers draw on Ballroom and other cultural expressions particular to queer and trans communities of color in their work in order to articulate their subject positions.

By centring the performances of openly queer and trans artists of color, 'Queer Voices in Hip Hop' reclaims their work as essential to the development and persistence of hip hop in the United States as it tells the story of the queer roots of hip hop.

Favourite Reads

Queerness in Pop Music : Aesthetics, Gender Norms, and Temporality

by Stan Hawkins


This book investigates the phenomenon of queering in popular music and video, interpreting the music of numerous pop artists, styles, and idioms.

The focus falls on artists, such as Lady Gaga, Madonna, Boy George, Diana Ross, Rufus Wainwright, David Bowie, Azealia Banks, Zebra Katz, Freddie Mercury, the Pet Shop Boys, George Michael, and many others. Hawkins builds his concept of queerness upon existing theories of opacity and temporality, which involves a creative interdisciplinary approach to musical interpretation.

He advocates a model of analysis that involves both temporal-specific listening and biographic-oriented viewing. Music analysis is woven into this, illuminating aspects of parody, nostalgia, camp, naivety, masquerade, irony, and mimesis in pop music.

One of the principal aims is to uncover the subversive strategies of pop artists through a wide range of audiovisual texts that situate the debates on gender and sexuality within an aesthetic context that is highly stylized and ritualized.

'Queerness in Pop Music' also addresses the playfulness of much pop music, offering insights into how discourses of resistance are mediated through pleasure. Given that pop artists, songwriters, producers, directors, choreographers, and engineers all contribute to the final composite of the pop recording, it is argued that the staging of any pop act is a collective project. The implications of this are addressed through structures of gender, ethnicity, nationality, class, and sexuality. Ultimately, Hawkins contends that queerness is a performative force that connotes futurity and utopian promise.

Looking for more suggestions?

Visit ICMP's Kilburn campus to find a wider selection of books that we have created for our students!

Take the first steps in your music career with ICMP

We've been developing and delivering contemporary music education for over 30 years – longer than any other music school in the UK. With a proven track-record, countless music industry connections and unrivalled access to facilities, it's easy to see why hundreds of students choose ICMP each year. 

To completely immerse yourself in your music career, chat with our friendly Admissions Team via email enquiries@icmp.ac.uk or give them a call on 020 7328 0222.

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by ICMP Staff Writer
February 2, 2024
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