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Mina Caputo, Linda Perry & Lesley Gore : 25 of music’s most underrated trailblazers across the queer spectrum

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Mina Caputo

Life of Agony vocalist Mina Caputo made history in 2011 when she came out as a transgender woman via Twitter, making her the heavy-music community’s first, and by far most famous, member of the heavy-music community to identify as such. Caputo channeled her struggles with depression and suicidal thoughts into pugilistic hardcore throughout the alternative-metal band’s heyday in the Nineties and Aughts – most notably on 1993’s acclaimed debut, River Runs Red – which cracked the mainstream rock charts and prompted tours alongside Korn, Deftones and others) – before departing the band for a solo career in 1997, tired of living a double life. She finally rejoined Life of Agony in the early 2010s, motivated by a fearless desire to take on the status quo with kickass pit-starters. “The band makes more sense now than it did before,” she told Rolling Stone of the band’s rebirth last year. “It’s its own beautiful, perfect monster.” Z.C.

Linda Perry

In the Nineties, 4 Non Blondes broke out with their megahit “What’s Up?”– which would rock karaoke rooms for decades to come. She took some time to pursue a solo career after her band broke up, but it was the post-bubblegum pop of the early Aughts where she found her second act. Pink contacted Perry to write for her second, breakthrough album Missundaztood. “Neither one of us knew what was gonna happen,” Perry recalled years later in an interview with Huffington Post. At the time, Pink had made her name in the R&B world before Perry honed in on the pop star’s rock edge. “What happened was that we were able to open up to each other … she completely abandoned what she was told she was supposed to be, and just became Alecia Moore.” After their fruitful collaboration on the megahit “Get the Party Started,” Perry found a home extracting a similar vulnerability and honesty out of other major pop stars and has helped craft some of the 21st Century’s most memorable hits, including Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” and “Candyman” and Gwen Stefani’s “What You Waiting For?” Along the way, Perry has always been open and proud of who she is, famously playing a guitar with the word “dyke” written on it at the Billboard Music Awards in 1993. She’s been married to Roseanne star Sara Gilbert since 2011. B.S. 

Lesley Gore

As a teen, Lesley Gore became the powerfully ubiquitous and feminist voice of Sixties pop. She spent the following decades outside of the teen idol spotlight, going to Sarah Lawrence for college and getting an Oscar nomination for the score to Fame, which she composed with her brother Michael. Forty years after launching empowering hits such as “It’s My Party” and “You Don’t Own Me,” she became a LGBT rights activist, serving as one of the many guest hosts for the PBS series In the Life. It wasn’t until after hosting various episodes of the show for a couple years – which all centered on LGBT issues – that she spoke openly about her partner of over two decades and the struggles of being gay in the music industry. “I think the record industry – by and large what’s left of it – is still totally homophobic,” she said, noting that she came out in her twenties and never went to “lengths” to conceal it. “I just kind of lived my life naturally and did what I wanted to do.” B.S. 

rollingstone.com

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