As part of GLAAD's Transgender Awareness Week, the organization teamed up with queer hitmaker Justin Tranter to create a video demanding more LGBTQ inclusion in music. The PSA, out today, features everyone from RuPaul to country songwriter Shane McAnally and members of the Los Angeles Trans Chorus.
"Music spoke to me when I was young in such an intimate, empowering, magical way, and I think that music is already doing that for young queer kids," says Tranter, who's written songs for Justin Bieber, Britney Spears, Selena Gomez and more. "It can do even more if we just put a little bit of effort."
He continues, citing Ani DiFranco as chief inspiration for his work and activism today. "Hearing her embrace her queerness and hearing her embrace her strong, powerful femininity—that made me feel safer than anything could."
RuPaul underlines Tranter's statement: "When things get tough, I always turn to music," says the drag icon, whose 1992 smash "Supermodel" was a pioneering breakthrough for drag culture. "Growing up queer has allowed me to not put boundaries on art or colors or life or anything."
In conversation with punk icon Courtney Love, Tranter spoke about the lack of queer visibility in music: "It’s shocking how few women and LGBTQ people are in the behind-the-scenes world of the studio," he said. "There are almost no producers, and the couple of songwriters that exist need to fight harder to get in the room. I think it’s like passive homophobia, where people believe I should be able to get married, but [I’m not] the first person they’d think of [to work with] because they’re hanging out with their bros all day, and they’re gonna put their bros in the session."
At the 2017 BMI Pop Awards, where Tranter was awarded Songwriter of the Year, he used his on-stage acceptance speech to demand total equality for LGBTQ people and women in music. "Put more LGBTQ people in your sessions," he said. "Put more women, and put more women of color, in your sessions! And do it now!"