Department or Program

Peace and Justice Studies

Primary Wellesley Thesis Advisor

Lawrence Rosenwald

Additional Advisor(s)

Jenny Johnson


This paper explores connections between social justice and music through the work of LGBT and queer musicians. Using a combination of personal interviews and research, each chapter highlights contemporary queer musicians and links their musicking with past music scenes, sociohistorical moments, and musicians. Beginning with the growing visibility of the LGBT population in the 1960s, I gradually move forward chronologically through the twentieth century to present-day, grounding the music scene of the era within the context of coinciding LGBT and queer politics, gender and sexuality academia, and feminist and queer theory. I simultaneously link each music scene to the present-day, offering examples of its legacy in contemporary queer music, and comparing the social justice work of today with the work of past decades. Using a matrix that examines the functions of musicking within social movements and how they connect with queer musicians’ modes of engagement, this paper delves into the value of musicking within a broader transformative social justice framework, and seeks to articulate ways in which music might contribute to social justice. More specifically, this work considers the unique role of queer musicians within contemporary social justice initiatives and considers the ways in which queer musicians might best engage in today’s transformative social justice framework.