Written By: Brandon Godman
As I sit down to write my personal blog entry for The Forward Roll, I have one subject that sticks out in my mind and that is community. Growing up in rural Kentucky, I learned early on how important community is. It's a support system, an identity, a refuge, and the glue of which that holds it together may be geographical centered, a common interest, a shared belief, or a mutual cause. Within these communities you can learn, grow, expand, and while helping others do the same.
Our Bluegrass community is one that is very unique. It was started and largely centered around the soul and simplicity of country folk, and for years this was the audience. However as the gospel of Bluegrass spread, it reached far beyond those who started it. Increasingly the community has grown and expanded. Now at festivals, concerts and jam sessions, you can find a cornucopia of people of different ages, races, backgrounds, sexual orientations, religions and vocations, all bound together by Bluegrass.
I started playing Bluegrass professionally before I came out of the closet. I experienced what it felt like to be a young, white, male fiddler from Kentucky... for a while. Now, I shouldn't say I "came out of the closet", because it really was more like "falling out of the closet", as I didn't have much of a choice in the matter at the time. After this "falling out of the closet" happened I was quite afraid that I would no longer have a place in Bluegrass, a music dear to my heart that I had dedicated years to learning and perfecting. I'm proud that, for the most part, I was accepted just as I was, regardless of sexual orientation. I was accepted as fiddler, Brandon Godman. Some folks quietly accepted me, yet others showed up with open arms and welcomed me. I can honestly say it's because of these open gestures that I'm still around today.
It's one thing to be quietly accepting of everyone, but it means so much more to stand with open arms and make it known that persons of any race, gender, religion, sexual orientations, age, or ethnicity are welcome. To me, that's exactly what having a float in the San Francisco Pride Parade is doing. We are not just quietly accepting, but we are making a statement. We are showing our #bluegrasspride and inviting others to join our community. To quote Delmar from the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou?, "Come on in boys (and girls), the water is fine!"