When Christina Aguilera joined the queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race in the first episode Untucked season 10, it was all fun, games and kiki; but as a more experienced sister, Xtina also got real with the girls. She said that the reason she relates to the LGBTQ community is because they all share a similar story: “I’m sure we’ve all had a painful place or a struggle or something, and I think that’s really relevant, and that’s a part my music, and a part where I come from.”
In 2003, Aguilera received a GLAAD Special Recognition Award for her work in promoting LGBTQ acceptance in the “Beautiful” video. She dedicated the song to “anyone who’s been discriminated against or unaccepted, unappreciated or disrespected just because who they] are.”
Her support for the community has always been an important part her art and activism: her LGBTQ-inclusive videos, in a time when a depiction queer love was considered a risky career move; her efforts to help victims and families the nation’s deadliest attack on the LGBTQ community; advocating for marriage equality; and fighting to end the HIV stigma.
Last year, she wrote to Billboard Pride to thank her LGBTQ fans for the support she receives from the community. “As my career moved forward and I began making music that spoke to my pain and struggles there were fans that came out to me with stories that literally lifted me up. Those were all my LGBTQ fans that through thick and thin stand with me daily. My fighters, my heroes, the reason I love what I do,” the emotional letter read.
These are just some the reasons that make Xtina a true gay icon. Here are 10 songs from her catalog that empower the LGBTQ community.
The second single from her Stripped album spoke deeply to the LGBTQ community. At a time when queer representation in popular culture was scarce and derogatory, the video depicted a young gay couple locking lips and a transgender woman putting on makeup and jewelry.
For the the soundtrack Moulin Rouge!, the 2001 musical film directed by Baz Luhrmann, Xtina teamed up with Lil' Kim, Mýa, Missy Elliott and P!nk for a cover Labelle’s “Lady Marmalade.” When Christina was asked about collaborating with them, she was immediately onboard: “I'm a fan all theirs, and just to be in the same song doing something with them — collaborating, which I love to do, is a really big thing for me,” she told MTV News in 2001.
A drag queen favorite, “Fighter” is a song about surviving a life-shattering moment betrayal and using that pain to become stronger. Aguilera wrote it for an ex who “deserved it,” as she told the Drag Race queens in an episode Untucked. Christina reads her ex for filth — “Cause you dug your own grave/ After all the fights and the lies 'cause you're wanting to haunt me” — and for a very good reason. “It was heartbreaking because I found out he played for your team, not mine,” she told the queens. The library was open!
“Dirrty” (feat. Redman)
With her album Stripped (2012) she introduced her alter ego Xtina to the world with the release its first single: the unabashedly sexual “Dirrty.” (“Dirty/ Filthy/ Nasty, you nasty/ Too dirty to clean my act up.”) The video, directed by David LaChapelle, is a straight man’s fetish paradise — and a gay man’s celebration in-your-face sexuality wrapped around the camp sensibility Showgirls.
“Accelerate”(feat. Ty Dolla $ign & 2 Chainz)
In her second major surprise this year to her LGBTQ fans, Christina showed up at Los Angeles Pride earlier this month and performed a dance remix her comeback single “Accelerate.” The song is the first single from Liberation, Aguilera’s first album in six years. Xtina showed up at the end the drag show appropriately dressed in leopard print from sunglasses to train — and sang next to her drag doppelganger Farrah Moan. “This is a new remix, just for Pride, especially for you guys,” she told the crowd tens thousands at the show.
Four days after the Pulse tragedy in Orlando, Christina released “Change,” a powerful song about acceptance and hope. The gospel ballad was dedicated to the victims the shooting, and all proceeds from U.S. downloads during the first three months benefited the National Compassion Fund, which raises funds for the victims and families affected by it. “The horrific tragedy that occurred in Orlando continues to weigh heavily on my mind. I am sending so much love and so many prayers to the victims and their families,” Xtina wrote on her website. “Like so many, I want to help be part the change this world needs to make it a beautiful inclusive place where humanity can love each other freely and passionately.”
“Fall in Line”(feat. Demi Lovato)
For the second single from Liberation, the feminist anthem “Fall in Line,” Aguilera recruited the powerhouse vocals Demi Lovato. The duo performed the track live at the Billboard Music Awards in May, a week before the release the anti-oppression video. Set in a futuristic version The Handmaid’s Tale, it shows Xtina and Lovato as children being taken to a male-dominated prison. But the video ends in a happier tone: When the friends become adults, they turn into stronger and powerful women who are able to fight their way out the oppressive hell.
“Let There Be Love”
Even though it was never ficially released as a single, “Let There Be Love” reached the top the U.S. dance charts in 2013. Xtina released a DIY video for the catchy dance-pop track on her YouTube channel, where she featured guest appearances by Nicole Richie, Christina Milian and her son, Max Bratman. The video starts with Xtina thanking her fans for all their support — during good and bad times — and it shows people holding signs that read “Amo a mi hijo gay” (“I love my gay son”), “Don't judge,” “Equality” and “Accept.” In a performance the song at the 40th American Music Awards, she filled the stage with people representing misfits, who were wearing bags over their heads with signs that read “pig,” “queen,” “weird” and “loser.” When they reveal their faces, we see the stereotypical images that society sees them as: a drag queen, a man with his face covered in tattoos, another man who had an unusually long beard. The song ends in a confetti-drenched party celebrating everybody’s unconventional beauty.
“My Girls” (feat. Peaches)
The criminally underrated “My Girls” from Xtina’s 2010 Bionic album is a queer music triumph. The electro-disco song features Canadian LGBTQ counter-culture darling Peaches and feminist electronic rock band Le Tigre, known for its left-wing views and LGBTQ activism. The song is also a delicious anthem female empowerment. When they are together, they become stronger. “My girls, we're running the show/ My girls, we're teasing all the boys on the go/ My girls, 'cause that's the way that we roll/ My girls, so ladies step it up and take control.”
Christina’s debut single was a song about self-acceptance and love; the desire to show the world who you really are inside, and not who you are expected to be. The song was part the soundtrack Disney’s 1998 animated film Mulan. Christina didn’t sing the movie version, but the 17-year-old recorded another — more pop-sounding — version, which was released as a single and led to a record deal with MCA Records. “Reflection” is also considered a trans anthem: the story represents the difficult journey experienced by transgender people during their transition. “Look at me you may think you see/ Who I really am but you'll never know me/ Every day it's as if I play a part/ Now I see if I wear a mask/ I can fool the world but I cannot fool my heart.”