The 20 Greatest Gay DJs of All Time
In honor of National Coming Out Day on October 11, we’re celebrating the DJs who have come out strong and played hard.
More than any other genre, the roots of dance music are steeped in the ideals of unity, respect and love for all people. At THUMP, we explored the history of gay dance music, from the hot house of early disco and house that flowered at the same time as the first movement toward gay rights. We also examined where the movement is today in terms of the EDM explosion, and we followed the original underground strain all the way up until today's vibrant queer scene.
Now, in honor of National Coming Out day on October 11, we are honoring those who gave birth to dance music, and have kept its energy alive for four decades and beyond.
The bearded host-cum-DJ who started it all in the early 70s at his legendary residence-cum-afterhours, The Loft. Though mixing was barely an ideal in the earliest days, Mancuso's music selection and crowd curation undoubtedly gave birth to the scene.NICKY SIANO
Second only to The Loft in its pre-disco popularity was Siano's The Gallery, where it is said that he became the first DJ to constantly blend and beat match records together. He then went on to become a resident at the infamous of all nightclubs, Studio 54.LARRY LEVAN
The Charlie Parker of DJs, Levan took what he learned at Mancuso's Loft and other gay discos around New York and elevated the clubbing experience to high art and high drama.FRANKIE KNUCKLES
Recently departed and dearly missed disco pilgrim who brought the New York spirit to Chicago club The Warehouse, creating the house music genre in the process. He went on to become one of the earliest house music superstars.RON HARDY
Chicago wild child to Knuckle's benevolent godfather, Hardy stripped down the disco sound to a raw and fierce reign of beats and bleeps that still resonates in this age of machine music.TONY DE VIT
The UK's greatest gay DJ, De Vit drew his inspiration from the British rave scene as much as from America's rich house and techno history, resulting in the pure rush that was his infamous club, Trade.JUNIOR VAZQUEZ
Madonna's favorite DJ cack when Madonna mattered, this diva behind the decks delivered some of the fiercest tribal house tantrums off all time from his custom elevated DJ booth in famed 90s NYC hotspots Sound Factory and Tunnel.
This DJs DJ ruled the roost at clubs like Twilo and Vinyl in NYC, fought an infamous feud with fellow NYC titan Vazquez and has reinvented himself from tribal king pin to progressive superstar and, most recently, techno master craftsman, while never losing his own sound and style.DJ DAN
A perennial favorite of the West Coast scene, the unassuming Dan has been blasting the dance floor with funky house bombs for over two decades.DERRICK CARTER
The bompity-bomp prince of Chicago house, Carter's Classic imprint and two decades of DJ domination have lit up clubs worldwide.SUPERCHUMBO
This disciple of Junior Vazquez brought the tribal sound of New York into the next decade with his classic "The Revolution."
Austrian jock Rauhofer was another undeniable star on the NYC club scene at the turn of the Millennium, when every pop hit from Cher to Britney Spears required a house music remix. The founder of the once ubiquitous Star 69 label tragically died of a brain tumor at age 48.
This hard house queen banged the box across the American rave scene.
Musical impresario behind some of Rupaul's biggest hits, Tee went on to lead the New York electroclash movement of the early 00s.
The vamping vampire behind the infamously naughty Motherfucker parties which brought rock, glam and punk into the dance floor mix. SAMANTHA RONSON
She might be notorious for her fling with Lindsay Lohan, but this celebrity-DJ holds real talent behind the decks. More than can be said for many of her paparazzi peers. DJ SPRINKLES
Terre Thaemlitz makes sophisticate music for thoughtful audiences. Whether he chooses to work on the experimental side of electronica, or spending her time crafting delicate and deep dance floor tunes, themes of identity politics run through every groove.
KIM ANN FOXMAN
As part of Hercules & Love Affair, Foxman helped to reignite the passion for classic house music being heard today. On her own as a DJ, she continues to spread the message. PROSUMER
This former Panorama Bar resident and connoisseur of all things house and techno has inspired a new generation of gay DJs to take to the decks.