2022 was good for a lot of things — in the music world, artists like Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Harry Styles, Bad Bunny and more had blockbuster years worthy of recognition. But when it came to the continued fight for LGBTQ rights, 2022 proved to be more of a backslide. In the United States alone, queer and trans folks spent the year working tirelessly against more than 300 anti-LGBTQ bills in state legislatures (including Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill and Arkansas’ ban on gender-affirming care for young people), threats towards gender diverse kids and their families, a fatal shooting at a gay nightclub, and countless more tragedies and setbacks. Around the world, people struggled to support the biggest sporting event in the world being held in a country where being queer is a crime, while anti-LGBTQ sentiment and hate crimes continued to rise around the world.
Despite the onslaught of negative sentiment and oppressive ideals, queer artists showed up to represent and support their community in 2022. The methods they employed through their albums were often varied — some aimed for sheer escapism, creating new sonic worlds for their fans to luxuriate in; others looked their circumstances dead in the eye, using their music to channel the rage they felt at a world that was seemingly set against them. Either way, LGBTQ artists made their voices heard through some of their best works to date in 2022.
So, which of those albums stood out among the rest? Below, check out Billboard‘s picks for the 20 best albums by LGBTQ artists released in 2022: