Tina Turner, LGBTQ+ icon and HIV advocate, dies aged 83

Tributes have poured in for the singer, including from Queen of Ireland Panti Bliss, who tweeted, "This one hits me in the feels. RIP the one and only Tina".

Head-on view of Tina Turner singing into a microphone
Image: Sipa/Rex/Shutterstock

Tina Turner, the voice behind iconic songs like ‘Proud Mary’, ‘What’s Love Got to Do With It’, and ‘Nutbush City Limits’ has died at age 83. Turner passed away at her Küsnacht home near Zurich, Switzerland, on Wednesday, May 24, after a years-long battle with intestinal cancer. 

Turner’s death was confirmed via a post shared on the pop singer’s verified Facebook page yesterday afternoon. 

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Tina Turner. With her music and her boundless passion for life, she enchanted millions of fans around the world and inspired the stars of tomorrow. Today we say goodbye to a dear friend who leaves us all her greatest work: her music. All our heartfelt compassion goes out to her family. Tina, we will miss you dearly,” the statement read.


Although Turner was a naturalised Swiss singer, she was originally born Anna Mae Bullock in Nutbush, Tennessee, in 1939. As a child, Turner began her career as a singer by joining her church’s choir. Eventually, she crossed paths with her future ex-husband, Ike Turner. The established musician invited Tina to join his band, formally kicking off her music career. 

Tina and Ike Turner were a musical power couple for 15 years until Tina suffered domestic abuse at the hands of her then-husband. The couple was later divorced in 1976, a decision that led to Tina Turner launching her own solo career in the early 1980s. 

Turner’s story of being a survivor of domestic abuse, as well as her powerhouse voice, have made her an instant icon in the LGBTQ+ community alongside the likes of Gloria Gaynor, Cyndi Lauper and Whitney Houston. 

Her status as a “gay icon” has been upheld throughout her career by her participation in explicitly LGBTQ+ events such as the first-ever Gay Games. Held in San Francisco in 1982, Turner performed at the opening ceremonies of the international LGBTQ+ sporting event. 

Turner would return to San Francisco in 1997 to perform a medley of songs at the Macy’s Passport fashion show in support of education, research, and services for those living with HIV/AIDS. 


“Tina Turner was a truly iconic recording artist and was widely revered among the LGBTQ community,” said Kevin Robert Frost, the Chief Executive Officer of the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR), in a statement following Turner’s death.

“Her music and her extraordinary talent brought communities of people around the world together, and who couldn’t admire her extraordinary passion, energy, and resilience? She will be greatly missed.” 

Over the course of her decades-long career, Turner raked in an impressive 12 Grammy Awards, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and was even inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991 alongside her ex-husband Ike. In 2021 Turner was re-inducted as a solo artist. 


Unfortunately, Turner was diagnosed with intestinal cancer in 2016, followed shortly thereafter by a kidney transplant the next year. 

​​“One of my early career goals was to become the first Black woman to fill stadiums around the world,” Turner told the Today show two years ago. “At the time, it seemed impossible. But I never gave up, and I’m so happy I made that dream come true.”

Rest in power.

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