Continue Supporting Queer Artists Post-Pride
L.A. songwriter, artist and musician Caroline Kingsbury is hot off the release of her critically-acclaimed debut album 'Heaven's Just A Flight'.
Below, Caroline discusses how to better support LGBTQIA+ artists, even after Pride is over.
Caroline Kingsbury (Source: Instagram)
I was a loud and precocious child. Scared of the dark yet completely unafraid of my opinions blasting out the elementary school classroom windows.
When did I start hiding? When did I start asking for permission to exist? Probably somewhere before the tween years settled. Probably right in the middle of my fifth grade classroom as I gazed dreamily at a skinny-as-a-dead-twig-brace-faced-boy. The playground fell way to the social dynamics of our complex society. Who was hot and who was not? To my incredulous surprise, I was definitely not according to the skinny-as-a dead-twig-brace-faced-boy.
It was like puberty and the patriarchy hit me all at once at ten years old. It left a permanent stain on my self-image, self-worth and sexuality (god, I am such a complainer). The two P's (puberty and the patriarchy) really defined my experience in middle school as well as high school and early college. Especially when they caused me to fall in with a cult-like church.
The queer me, I see her as the loud precocious child I once was, had been there the entire time. She just needed some time to scoot out of the closet.
I am now a semi-functioning queer adult with a dead brother. I am a songwriter, artist, musician, performer, singer, guitarist, pianist (not really) and producer. I came out of the closet after years of pain, the undoing of my cult faith, and peeling back all the damage the two P's left me with.
Now it’s June. It's time to capitalize on all that pain and celebrate Pride month with McDonalds ™, Tmobile where “Proud People Use Phones” and watch as “Ballistic Missile Union Workers celebrate PRIDE with an explosive concert series,” (featuring only white gay men).
During Pride, the requests come piling in: a two minute video detailing my coming out story, a photo of me and my girlfriend kissing just to prove that I am actually queer, Pride playlist submissions, Pride livestream performances (they don’t pay), and I'm competing with all the other queer musicians for these opportunities.
Am I queer enough to be chosen to make such and such company look the way they need to look to hit their social media engagement goals for Pride month? I wasn’t even considered for these opportunities until I had a girlfriend, even though I came out a few years earlier.
Walmart wants to virtue-signal-guilt-trip you into shopping at their stores. Shell Gas wants you to choose them over competitors because they changed the color of their logo. Companies have hopped on the gay bandwagon because it’s popular and will make them more money than if they didn't. Take Chick Fil A for example. LGTBQ+ people love to virtue signal their way past Chick Fil A any chance they get, asking: "How could they donate to anti-LGBTQ+ groups?"
Did you get a battery for your car at Autozone? A new pair of jeans from Armani Exchange or H&M? Order pizza from Dominos or install a satellite dish from the DISH network? You just killed a gay person. This is an extremely pessimistic outlook on Pride month and I am really living up to the angry white feminist trope so gracefully set before me by many angry white feminists.
How does this make a LGBTQ+ person feel? To be picked up, used, and tossed aside after a month of rainbow colored social media posts?
I’m a white queer, so I am less interesting for these companies trying to seem accepting and diverse. I'm completely fine. But, I think about all the BIPOC, specifically trans people, who are being constantly berated when they use the bathroom of their choice. Or called racist slurs alongside homophobic slurs. The high schooler who can’t play their favorite sport because of their biological sex, even during Pride. 2021 is barely half way through and has already seen nearly thirty murders of trans people. What feels horrible are these companies actively pursuing the images and stories of LGBTQ+ BIPOC who have had incredibly traumatic experiences.
Yes we want opportunities for LGBTQ+ BIPOC. We want money in their pockets, their businesses and art being highlighted. But many of the Pride opportunities don’t pay. Or if they pay, they pay very little. You might get mentioned in the social media post or allowed to play three songs on a branded livestream instead.
If you need some tips on how to actively support positive change, stop trying to look woke and support the queer BIPOC artists you love without bragging about it. Secondly, stop asking LGBTQIA+ people how they have sex. Thirdly, if you really love an artist, you need to make sure you're supporting them in ways that financially benefit them - merch, live shows and vinyl. Streaming makes queers and every musician basically no money, so just try to be thoughtful about where you're throwing all that Tesla stock.
Last but not least, text every single person on your contact list a link to your favorite LGBTQIA+ artists and your homophobic sins may just be washed away.
All jokes aside, the whole point of Pride can get missed even by LGBTQIA+ people. We are so lucky to be able to get married, be somewhat protected by the law, and even get recognition of our worth from our president.
According to Human Rights Watch (as of 2020), same sex acts carry the death penalty in at least a dozen countries. 68 countries still criminalize homosexuality. Only 19 countries in the world allow transgender people to serve openly in the military. In Russia, a federal law makes it illegal to "distribute propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" which is so broad that it can be used to ban pride parades and arrest people for even identifying as LGBTQIA+ on social media. How can we even celebrate when so many people on this earth are still actively being persecuted, beaten, and killed for the freedoms we enjoy so gratuitously?
Queer artists in the USA and western world are so incredibly lucky that we are even being asked for one month to share our story without fearing for our lives. We collectively need to recognize that Pride isn't just one month to celebrate the gays and the western progress for LGBTQIA+ people. Pride is also about recognizing disparities. People are dying while we're dancing around in glitter underwear. This doesn't mean we shouldn't celebrate our sexuality. It means celebrating while remembering those who can't celebrate and putting our money where our fucking mouth is!
Educate yourself on organizations actively working towards a world where everyone can celebrate and give them your money:
I am not a spokesperson for the LGBTQIA+ community. I am a very white representation of something that is incredibly diverse and beautiful.
How do we take the guilt we feel and turn it into action after realizing we forgot what pride was really all about? How do we support queer artists all year round long after the pride flags come down and we go back to privately saying that someone’s pronouns are too hard to learn?
Throw your money towards organizations that will benefit the international LGBTQIA+ community. Throw your money towards queer artists that will benefit, especially BIPOC. Be a nice person? I don’t know. I was asked to write this blog not because I am an expert but because I am a queer and Pirate is trying their best to support us all year round, which I appreciate.
My last suggestion is maybe don’t download a queer persons album from Limewire.