The music that Latinx LGBTQ people love to listen to is still under the radar in circles outside of our world. For us, it’s so important to hear some of this music since it brings several aspects of our identity together and makes us feel like we are right at home. When I DJ for LGBTQ gatherings here in the Rio Grande Valley, like at Queremos Bailar, Queerceañera, and a U.S. Trans Survey LGBTQ Dance Mixer and Dance Party, I have had a set of songs that I always want to make sure to play. So in this fifth playlist for Neta, I wanted to share these songs that are popular with the local LGBTQ scene, for one reason or another. From Tejano to Argentine cumbias to local punk, this is a great blend of music to jam out to when you want to have fun.
To listen to this playlist on YouTube, click here.
1. “Nuestra Cancion” and “Me Estoy Enamorando” by La Mafia
From the Houston area, La Mafia became one of the top powerhouse Tejano acts of the 1980s and the brief Tejano boom period of the 1990s. They have performed in the Valley countless of times, and still headline major festivals in South Texas like Fiesta de la Flor and the upcoming 50th Annual Fiesta Edinburg. “Nuestra Cancion” is one of the most meta songs in the genre, where the song being sung is about the song itself. “Me Estoy Enamorando” is a classic Tejano emo song with gender neutral lyrics, which may be interpreted anyway you like.
2. “¿A quién le importa?” by Alaska y Dinarama
Like “I Will Survive” and “Dancing Queen” became gay anthems for English speaking LGBTQ audiences, “¿A quién le importa?” would go on to have a similar place in the hearts of Spanish speaking LGBTQ audiences. Thalia would later release her own version of this tune, but Alaska y Dinarama’s version remains the most popular among LGBTQ audiences.
3. “Amor Prohibido” by Selena
Selena was from Corpus Christi but performed regularly in the Valley, most memorably at La Villa Real in McAllen during the early 1990s. Also she was a regular on local programming, having memorable appearances on The Johnny Canales Show and Puro Tejano TV. Just like the previous song on our list, “Amor Prohibido” became a gay anthem for Spanish and Spanglish speaking LGBTQ audiences in Texas. For those interested on reading more on the gay subtext in the song, you can check out this section in the song’s entry on Wikipedia.
4. “Era Diferente” by Los Tigres del Norte
While Los Tigres del Norte became stars based out of California, they do have a connection to the Valley. They appeared on local television programs such as Aqui Rogelio and The Johnny Canales Show, and were highly influenced by Valley musicians like Gilberto Perez y sus compadres and Los Donneños. Early in their careers they even recorded their own version of “El Dia de tu Boda”, a conjunto classic in migrant circles that was originally from Perez and local composer Ramon Medina. In 2014 they released what was promoted as being the first positive LGBTQ song in norteño music. The song is about a teenage girl who falls in love with her friend; Fusion called it the first “lesbian love ballad” in norteño music. It would go on to be awarded the GLAAD Media Award for Special Recognition (Spanish Language).
5. “Mientes” by Kumbia Queers
Kumbia Queers are a queer tropical-punk from Argentina who have been growing in popularity since their formation in 2007. They have never played here in the Valley but I hope they get the opportunity to perform here one day. Favorite song of theirs is this cumbia titled “Mientes”, which has a great beat and is very accessible to us cumbia lovers here in South Texas.
6. “La Frontera“ and “Debo Hacerlo” by Juan Gabriel
While he wasn’t born there Juan Gabriel is known for being from Ciudad Juárez, near the Texas-Mexico border. The only Valley connection I can think of was his longtime friendship with Tejano vocalist Carlos Guzman of Mission. The two toured together and Gabriel helped him out by filming a rare television commercial to promote Guzman’s show. Of course Gabriel also performed many times in the Valley over the years, usually at La Villa Real in McAllen and then the State Farm Arena in Hidalgo. The first song is about his love for the frontera, while the second one is an incredible club hit that always adds to the atmosphere whenever I play it as a DJ.
7. “Aye Que Suerte” by Fantastico
Fantástico! is led by Esther Martinez, a lesbian singer from Weslaco, and this song is a good showcase to the style of punk music she has been singing for decades. Another reason why I’m also recommending this song is that the music video was shot at PBDs, the oldest and longest running gay club in Valley history. There are also some cool cameos for those that are familiar with the local drag and LGBTQ scene here in South Texas. Just a cool song and video all around.