Earlier this year, Janet Jackson received the Billboard Music Awards icon award, cementing her status as a history-making popular culture legend. The honor was a recognition the artist’s contribution to music during her nearly four-decade long career, which is something that the LGBTQ community has known for as many decades.
Among the many awards Janet Jackson has collected over her career, the ones that recognize her work in support the LGBTQ community -- speaking out against homophobia, advocating for AIDS research, or celebrating same-sex love -- have turned her into one community’s most loyal allies. GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign, The American Foundation for AIDS Research, the AIDS Project Los Angeles, the Trevor Project and the It Gets Better Project have all recognized the importance her work.
Here are seven our favorite Janet tracks that have significance within the LGBTQ community.
Released in 1997, this inspiring feel-good dance hit was written as a tribute to a friend who Janet had lost to AIDS, and to other people affected by the disease. It was the second single from The Velvet Rope, an album that was praised for its pro-LGBTQ themes; it received the award for outstanding music album at the GLAAD Media Awards in 1998. The inspiration for "Together Again" came from her memories going to Studio 54 as a child, and she donated a portion the single's sales to The American Foundation for AIDS Research.
The second single from the massively successful Control album, “Nasty” gave pop culture one its most memorable lines: "My first name ain't baby, it's Janet -- Miss Jackson if you're nasty." Included in in each her greatest hits albums Design a Decade: 1986–1996 (1995), Number Ones (2009) and Icon: Number Ones (2010), the song became one Janet’s signature songs and it was a major influence in pop music in years to come. Britney Spears later covered it on her first concert tour, 1999’s ...Baby One More Time Tour.
Even though the song from The Velvet Rope album was never ficially released as a single, it became incredibly important to the LGBTQ community, and a brave career move for Janet. Sampling Stevie Wonder’s “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing,” it talked about same-sex relationships decades before #LoveIsLove became a mainstream idea. “Boy meets boy, Boy loses boy, Boy gets cute boy back, Girl meets girl, Girl loses girl, Girl gets cute girl back,” Janet sings.
"Love Will Never Do (Without You)"
Janet’s fifth No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100, and the final seven top five singles from her 1989 album Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814, "Love Will Never Do (Without You)" made her the only artist to achieve seven top five singles from the same album. The video for the song represents a departure from her highly choreographed routines and shows a much sexier Janet flirting with Antonio Sabàto, Jr. It was directed by the late openly gay director Herb Ritts, who would later receive GLAAD’s Pioneer Award 2008 for his significant contribution to the development LGBTQ-inclusive media images.
"Rock With U"
The second single f Janet’s 2008 album Discipline was written with LGBTQ fans in mind. “Honestly, the song was created for the gay community,” she told NewNowNext in a 2008 interview. “I kept stressing to Jermaine Dupri], ’I got to do something for the kids.’ I had talked about it on the last album – and there was a song that I had, and it wasn’t quite completed. And I talked about it to the papers, gay magazines, and it didn’t wind up on the album with the cut-f date. I felt really badly about that.”
The fourth single f The Velvet Rope, “Go Deep” is a song about letting loose in the club. With a series ficial remixes by household DJ names such as Masters at Work, Timbaland and Missy Elliot, the song became a huge club success in the summer 1998, reaching the top Billboard's Hot Dance Club Songs in August.
“DJ make me wet, I can feel your body pressed against my body/Wrap yourself around me, love to feel you throbbin’/Ooh baby…” Simply put, "Throb" is a song about sex. Loud, dirty, delicious sex. The acid house track taken from her fifth studio album Janet (1993) was a radio-only release in the U.S. and it reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club chart.