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Readers’ Picks: 12 Pride Anthems

As a 19-year-old gay woman, the song “Smalltown Boy” by Bronski Beat gave me courage to come out and escape to a world where women could love women, men could love men. “Smalltown Boy” is not necessarily about running away from a heterosexual upbringing but toward pride, freedom and acceptance. — Dawn Groundwater, New York (Listen on YouTube)

I like to joke that I came out the same time Madonna’s first album did. Coming out in suburbia in 1983 was so different. There were zero role models and not even a place to go to find my people. To me, “Holiday” was a metaphor for that place where I could live inside a bright, shiny rainbow. — J.P. Streeter, Alameda, Calif. (Listen on YouTube)

When I need a burst of gay freedom I dance it out to “Go West” by the Pet Shop Boys. It makes me feel like there’s a perfect place where I can really start a new life … in the open air … where people like us are free to be who we are! Go ahead and listen to it. I dare you to not be dancing by the end! — Jack Terry, Northville, Mich. (Listen on YouTube)

I was a couple of years into my military career and had been on temporary duty in June 2001. I took a few extra days of leave at the end, which happened to coincide with Seattle Pride. Even though it was cool and rained off and on, the outdoor stage at the Eagle had CeCe singing “Finally” at the first Pride event I’d ever attended, and it felt amazing to “finally” be there. She gave it her all for the slightly damp crowd. I couldn’t believe my luck to hear these ladies I’d hammed to in high school and went back for Pride in Seattle a couple more times when I could. — Eric, Kentucky (Listen on YouTube)

My coming out song at the age of 38 was “I’m Coming Out” by Diana Ross. After all of the great disco/gay-themed songs of the late ’70s, this is the one that got to me and led me to take that big step, partly due to the fact that it was by the legendary Diana Ross, who had such influence, being a global star. Everyone loved this song, making it an easy access statement for me in my quest to come out. — Harry N. Cohen, Queens (Listen on YouTube)

Every single word of that song captures the feelings of knowing you are different and sharing that with the world will be hard. It may be rough, you may be alone, but you have that special song that the world needs to hear. Somehow, the dose of reality in that song, that you may lose some people in your life who “cannot take your hand,” is oddly reassuring. There may be a price to pay to sing your song, but it pales in comparison to the feeling of being free to sing it. I heard it first in the movie “Beautiful Thing,” bought the soundtrack, listened to it on repeat for what seemed liked hundreds of times and then came out to my family and friends. — Jared Schrock, Pittsburgh (Listen on YouTube)

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