For most of my life, and mostly without my knowing, living within this stereotype has served as a kind of armor -- shielding me from risk and consequence. At times literally keeping me out of danger. Oftentimes garnering entrée or a degree of respect that I hadn’t yet earned. It has virtually always been okay to just be my authentic self and to share those qualities that make me “me” without a second thought.
I’ve never felt a need to be self-conscious about those qualities or to keep them hidden. I’ve never had a reason to.
And while you'll go to be supportive of the idea of inclusivity in bluegrass in general, the day will shift to where you, Dad, and Ross realize that you're really there for Christopher as you watch him march proudly, happier and more himself than you've ever seen him. This unwavering pride in your brother is where you'll find that long sought after familial feeling of love, belonging, and support. It will feel somewhat ironic that after running from your family problems into the welcoming embrace of the bluegrass community that bluegrass would ultimately bring your family together. But only because of Bluegrass Pride.
Besides Traditional Bluegrass, Community, Inclusivity, and Courage are the foundation of our values as an organization. We envision creating a cultural shift for all individuals seeking to join our community. Bottom line, we are here for you. Join us on your bluegrass journey, no matter your identity. In this community, we are all Handsome Ladies.
Meaningful change is rarely an easy thing to bring about. There’s a reason that it took until 2017 for any bluegrass association to celebrate Pride. It fell to California to fight for this, and to accomplish something amazing as a result. We should be proud of the progress that we’ve made, yes, but we should also take a moment to reflect on what more can be done to ease the growing pains that come with this kind of progress and how we can make more room for every member in our community over the long haul.
This marks the first year that any bluegrass organization has ever represented at a Pride event worldwide, which makes this wholehearted embrace of our cause that much more powerful. We made the choice this year to be brave. This year, we stepped up as a community, took the love and acceptance and joy at the heart of this music, and invited the world to take it with them. We opened our arms to people of all different races, classes, identities, orientations, abilities, and backgrounds and said, “This is for you, won’t you join us?”