This Love Will Change You

Written by: Kara Kundert

The past two years have been an absolute whirlwind. From that first living room meeting brainstorming what a Bluegrass Pride celebration would look like all the way to where we are now, we've had quite the journey. And that is why I am so thrilled to be here today: announcing the start of Bluegrass Pride as its own nonprofit organization, devoted full-time to the advancement of LGBT musicianship and inclusion within the global bluegrass community.

We started as a side project of the largest bluegrass association in the world, a little regional whisper about our lofty principles. We knew we were making a statement, but at least at first, we didn't think about how far our voices might travel. After seeing the initial responses to our project — both positive and negative  we quickly realized that we had struck a chord. We were resonating well beyond the confines of California.

In that first year, we celebrated Pride with hundreds of marchers and three float bands, representing the best of the local traditional American music scene: one youth band, one old-time band, and one traditional bluegrass band. Our picket fence float, live music, and enthusiastic marchers made a big impression, within the bluegrass scene and on Pride. We were named the Best of the Best at SF Pride 2017  bringing home the top prize out of 270 marching contingents. It was the first time that a first-time entrant to Pride had won the accolade. 

We were being seen and recognized and appreciated, and it motivated us to keep pushing. From there, two new Bluegrass Pride celebrations popped up: one in Portland, Oregon and one in Vancouver, British Columbia. (That's right, we're international!) We were sponsored by the International Bluegrass Music Association, the premier professional bluegrass music association worldwide, and traveled with The Handsome Ladies to the World of Bluegrass Business Conference & Wide Open Bluegrass Music Festival in September of 2018. While there, we celebrated Pride with Raleigh, North Carolina, participating in their annual NC Pride @ Night street festival. We also hosted the first ever LGBT Musician Showcase in IBMA history, an event that drew a packed house of bluegrass fans and local LGBT folks celebrating Pride.

We are so, so proud of all that we've accomplished so far, and so thankful to the California Bluegrass Association for taking a chance on us two years ago. But most of all, we are so excited for this new chapter. Being our own organization allows us to really begin to focus on a broad, international mission, pointedly expanding our focus beyond just California and the Bay Area. It allows us to develop new projects and tools for our audience, to grow our base and speak to new audiences, and to provide hands-on guidance to folks looking to start their own Bluegrass Pride celebrations.

It allows us to be bold, to shine bright, and to have pride.

I hope you will join us on this new adventure. We'll be posting information soon about how to contribute to Bluegrass Pride, including new donation tools, merchandise, and volunteer opportunities. See you out there!



Older Post Newer Post