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Latin Music’s Coming Out Party: Inside the New Wave of LGBTQ+ Artists

June 3, 2021

Billboard by Pentagram | Music logo, Billboard, Billboard music

 

A striking number of Latin artists have come out in recent years.

It’s an ode to an ex-lover that sounds like any other at first. On the buoyant synth-pop track “Fuimos Amor,” Colombian pop star Esteman sings in Spanish of what it’s like to fall under someone’s spell: “I have you here by my side, I can’t control it/I don’t care about anyone else here or who they are.” But the track, from his critically acclaimed 2019 album, Amor Libre, is something that, for decades, has been all too rare in Latin music: one man proudly recalling his love for another, with a male love interest cast in the music video.

When Esteman broke out in 2009 with the viral hit “No Te Metas a Mi Facebook” (“Stay Off My Facebook”), “I was out of the closet and had [shared] my sexual orientation with my family and friends,” the 37-year-old (real name: Esteban Williamson) tells Billboard in Spanish. But for years, being gay never felt like something he could talk openly about in his music: “The advice always was, both from my family, for my protection, but also from the people who were getting to know me [in the industry]: ‘Don’t reveal your personal life; one must be prudent.’ ”

Though it’s easy to take queer representation for granted today, progress has been slower in Latin music, where openly gay role models were scarce. But 11 years after Ricky Martin announced he was gay, becoming Latin’s most prominent LGBTQ+ artist, real change has finally come. In the past two years alone, a striking number of established and rising Latin stars from across genres have come out, including Joy Huerta from sibling duo Jesse & Joy, Jhonny Cazares from regional Mexican band Grupo Firme, electro-cumbia hitmaker Raymix and pop crooner Pablo Alborán. They join the ranks of vocal queer artists like Kany García, who came out in 2016, and Javiera Mena, who has been out since the beginning of her career in the early 2000s.

Read more here.  

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