‘I Will Survive’ Is an Unexpected LGBTQIA+ Anthem

Gloria Gaynor’s lyrics remain an inspiration for Black queer communities.

Photo credit: Ari Perilstein/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Black Music Month and Pride Month celebrations collide in Nicole Forrio’s essay about Gloria Gaynor’s disco hit, “I Will Survive.” Though the inspiring dance song was released in the 70’s, the single resurfaced in the 90’s as LGBTQ dealt with the AIDS crisis and homophobia.

The moment Gaynor was living in when she recorded “I Will Survive” — rejection from the music industry as a talented Black woman, the inability to rely on her body for the first time — no doubt contributed to the song’s energetic message of survival. Soon, this message became important to people in the LGBTQ community, expanding the message of endurance to more people in the margins of society…

Thriving in this world can be difficult if you live in the margins. Sexuality, race, gender, and social class are categories that define our experiences, the pitfalls we are likely to fall into, and whether or not we survive. “I Will Survive” isn’t just an anthem for survival; it also expresses hope about what comes after survival. As Gaynor has spent most of her career affirming, survival is the first step to freedom, independence, and happiness — and who doesn’t want to believe these are possible?

Read more about Gaynor’s musical journey and how her music inspired Black and queer communities through trying times in the article below. Happy Pride and Happy Black Music Month!

former senior platform editor @ZORAmag | book lover | fangirl | Black woman | Terp