The 10 Best Gay DJs of All Time

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Published By:

DJ Fierce

May 1, 2024

Best Gay DJs

The best gay DJs of all time have played a significant role in the emergence of house music, as well as niche genres such as hard house.

With their prolific history of producing remixes for some of the biggest names in the music industry, they have won dozens of awards and accolades between them.

Continue reading for our complete overview of these iconic DJs and the chart-topping releases and club residencies that have helped establish their reputation.


The 10 Best Gay DJs of All Time

The LGBTQ community has long been closely associated with the dance music scene, from the gay clubs of 1970s New York to present-day international festivals.

We’ve selected these DJs to represent their sweeping impact on dance music and DJing and how their influence is still felt to this day.

Without further ado, here’s our complete guide to the 10 best gay DJs of all time:


10. Tony Moran

American DJ, remixer, producer, and singer-songwriter Tony Moran began his career in 1981 as part of the duo The Latin Rascals with Albert Cabrera.

After gaining attention from Shakedown Studios, he began working on many successful remixes of popular hit radio songs, transforming them into dance club classics.

This paved the way for collaborations with many big names in the music industry, with Madonna, George Michael, and Janet Jackson among his remixing work.

Tony Moran became synonymous with the freestyle era of music, paving the way for the likes of TKA and Lisette Melendez.

In addition to performing DJ duties on the WKTU dance radio show based in New York City, Moran ventured into music production.

Work with Cher and Gloria Estefan led to two Grammy Award nominations and three number-one hits in collaboration with Jason Walker.

A prolific music producer, Tony Moran has released many singles throughout his DJ career in addition to his lengthy remixography.


9. Larry Levan

Widely regarded as one of the best old-school DJs of all time, Larry Levan is synonymous with the birth and evolution of house music.

Levan helped to define what a modern-day nightclub is during his ten-year residency at the Paradise Garage in New York City, developing a cult following.

Known as the “Saturday Mass,” this event would influence an entire generation of DJs and introduce house music to the masses.

Larry Levan would also be instrumental in the development of music production, using drum machines and synthesizers in his live DJ sets.

Over the decades, Levan would stand out for his ability to draw on a wide range of musical influences and genres to keep his productions fresh and invigorating.

These influences ranged from iconic American rock bands such as the Beach Boys to German electronic dance music pioneers Kraftwerk.

In 2004, Larry Levan was posthumously inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame in dedication to his services to the music industry.


8. Manny Lehman

Another notable and highly influential gay DJ from New York is Manny Lehman, who has become one of the most requested remixers of modern times.

Born to Puerto Rican parents, Manny Lehman started out working in the popular New York record shop VinylMania, where he was introduced to major players.

Tony Moran, Junior Vasquez, and Victor Calderone were all frequent visitors to the store and helped Lehman get his break as a DJ.

At the same time he was making frequent club appearances, Lehman worked behind the scenes as Director of Dance Promotions at A&M Records.

This work exposed him to internationally renowned artists such as Cher, Janet Jackson, Lady Gaga, and Sarah Brightman.

Remixing singles for these artists significantly boosted his profile, with his remix of Janet Jackson’s “Come On Get Up” storming the charts.

A hugely popular DJ in the clubs of New York and elsewhere, Manny Lehman’s reputation on the dance floor is well and truly secure.


7. Stacey HotWaxx Hale

Often referred to as the “Godmother of House Music,” Stacey HotWaxx Hale has been a core influence on the Chicago house music scene for decades.

Her work has inspired some of the best EDM DJs working today, and she’s one of the first women to learn how to mix back in the 1970s.

By the mid-1980s, Hale was dominating the Motor City Mix competition, beating hundreds and rappers to take the top prize in 1985.

Growing up in a musical household where jazz and Motown were frequently played, her eclectic taste in music is reflected in her DJ sets.

Techno DJs have also provided a huge amount of influence on Hale’s style, with Derrick May and Juan Atkins key figures in her early years.

In addition to her many performances in clubs around Chicago and New York, Hale has also played at many major festivals worldwide.

More recently, Stacey HotWaxx Hale has dedicated her time to passing on her skills, running the Spin Inc. production school in Detroit.


6. Peter Rauhofer

Austrian-American DJ, producer, and remixer Peter Rauhofer was another iconic gay DJ who is known for remixing Cher’s songs.

His career began with a residency at the New York club Roxy, spinning tracks at their weekly gay night alongside sets at the dance party “Work.”

One of the leading figures in the tribal house music movement, Peter Rauhofer, was also a regular fixture on America’s circuit party events scene.

His outstanding career also saw him light up dance floors with remixes of Madonna’s “Nothing Really Matters” and American Life.”

Rauhofer also collaborated with rising star Britney Spears on her track “Me Against the Music,” strengthening his appeal in the mainstream.

Rihanna, Mariah Carey, Elton John, and Nelly Furtado are among just a handful of the many household names he worked with on remixes.

While Peter Rauhofer sadly passed away in 2013, his legacy and impact on the LGBTQ community live on today through his many hit releases.


5. Danny Tenaglia

Like many of the greatest gay DJs of all time, Danny Tenaglia cut his teeth playing the latest house music from Chicago and New York.

Beginning with his residency at the Cheers nightclub in Maimi, he branched out into remixing in the early 1990s.

This included remixes of “I’m Too Sexy” by Right Said Fred and “Emergency on Planet Earth” by Jamiroquai in 1993, paving the way for mainstream success.

He found this after the release of “Surrender Yourself” by The Daou, and by the mid-1990s, was a highly sought-after music producer.

In addition to playing at clubs and festivals alongside the best underground DJs, Danny Tenaglia began releasing a string of hit albums.

He was particularly prominent within the Global Underground series, as well as a string of mix compilations that further bolstered his reputation.

Danny Tenaglia has remained active in the DJ community since, picking up dozens of awards and nominations over the years.


4. Tony De Vit

Tony De Vit took the history of dance music in new and innovative directions with his role in the creation of the hard house and fast NRG music genres.

Based in the United Kingdom, Tony De Vit transformed what DJs do in the late 1980s while playing at London’s first gay superclub, Heaven.

Regarded as the top DJ playing at the time, he transitioned into the burgeoning rave music scene and became known for his lengthy DJ sets.

Partnering with other major players in the scene, such as Grooverider and Fabio, De Vit began developing what is known as hard house.

This style, notable for its fast beats per minute and rave-sounding production, became one of the most popular dance music genres of the 1990s.

Throughout this period, Tony De Vit would rise in fame thanks to performances on the BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix and a string of hit compilation albums.

At the same time, Tony De Vit’s brand of hard house would dominate the main stage at British festivals, including Creamfields and Gatecrasher.

Despite his tragic death at the age of 40 in 1998, the legacy of Tony De Vit lives on, with countless DJs from the next generation influenced by his vision.


3. Frankie Knuckles

Like Larry Levan, Frankie Knuckles played a crucial role in the history of DJing and the development and popularization of house music.

Born and raised in the Bronx, Frankie Knuckles began playing R&B and disco in New York’s clubs before moving to Chicago in the late 1970s.

Here, he honed his DJing skills and defined his unique musical style, buying his first drum machine from Derrick May and incorporating it into his sets.

A brief stint playing in the United Kingdom gave him international clout and further enhanced his reputation as one of the hottest DJs.

In addition to his work as a DJ, Frankie Knuckles also became a prominent producer through his work with Jamie Principle.

He later went on to work with David Morales on the Def Mix Productions label, releasing his seminal work, Beyond the Mix, in 1991.

Following his death in 2015, Defected Records released a retrospective compilation to honor his contributions to the music industry.

Additionally, a stretch of road in Chicago was named after this iconic DJ, Frankie Knuckles Way, with Barack Obama involved in the decision.


2. Kaytranada

Louis Kevin Celestine, known by his professional name Kaytranada, is a Haitian-Canadian DJ who works across different genres.

One half of the hip-hop duo The Celestics, he initially began releasing music under his first name, Kaytranadus, in 2010.

A prolific music producer, he’s released dozens of tracks over the years and is well known for his exemplary remix talents.

This has included work with artists, including Anderson. Paak, Craig David, and Parrell Williams, to name a few of the major collaborations.

In 2019, Kaytranada smashed into the mainstream after winning two Grammy Awards for the album Bubba.

This marked the first black artist to win the Best Dance Electronic Album Award at the Grammys, further cementing his reputation.

In addition to these Grammy Awards, Kaytranada has picked up multiple Juno Awards and Album of the Year at the Canadian Independent Music Awards in 2017.

As he continues to put out popular songs that prove to be huge hits on the dance floor, Kaytranada’s fame is certainly on the ascent.


1. Junior Vasquez

Undoubtedly one of the most famous DJs of all time, Junior Vasquez came to prominence while working alongside Larry Levan in the 1970s.

An integral fixture in New York’s gay scene throughout the decade, he was known for his impressive sets at the Paradise Garage.

By the 1980s, Junior Vasquez had followed in the footsteps of his peers and entered the world of music production and remixing.

Working with Shep Pettibone, he remixed many songs for leading performers, including Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, and MC Hammer.

His early underground hits, often recorded under the pseudonym Ellis D, were frequently played at the Sound Factory venue which he co-founded with Richard Grant.

By the 1990s, he was working with diverse artists across the spectrum of genres, with Marilyn Manson and Bkork among the big names.

Throughout his career, Junior Vasquez held many residencies at some of the biggest nightclubs in the world.

With his sets highly regarded for their seamless transitions and an impressive selection of music, he’s a DJ many continue to celebrate to this day.



So there you have it, our overview of the most iconic gay DJs in the history of dance music and the role they’ve played in shaping the industry.

These DJs have been involved in the emergence of new and enduring subgenres while bringing dance music to the international stage through their many collaborations.

As the LGBTQ community continues to make waves in the entertainment industry, we can anticipate more gay DJs to emerge in the future.


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