I want to be sure that Bluegrass Pride is not about being proud to be a bluegrass musician, but about supporting people who need to be supported. If we are supporting queers in bluegrass, then we have to show that support in our daily lives as well. Bluegrass Pride should recognize that we are aligning ourselves against injustices inside AND outside of the bluegrass community. Discrimination within the bluegrass community reflects the issues in our local communities as well
I have to say that the bluegrass community has generally been incredibly welcoming and accepting of me, even though, as a half-Jewish young woman, I don’t quite fit the classic bluegrass “mold.” Luckily, there are some role models for me right here in my neighborhood with whom I share some characteristics – Kathy Kallick and Suzy Thompson for starters – and so I have never felt too much out of place. However, growing up in the scene, there were still norms and traditions that felt too powerful to push back against.
Pride, for me, is somewhat of a self-contained thing: it’s more important where I am now to be proud of myself, of the fact that I’m gay and that I survived long enough to feel okay writing that phrase and publishing it, than it is to be proud in defiance of someone else. Bluegrass is an interior thing, too: I can jam in a community, I can have a wonderful time, but the joy I feel spools back into that high lonesome sound. That loneliness, that otherness. Playing with other people shows me it’s better to be lonely together.
As the end of Pride Month approaches we were recently made aware of the wonderful news that the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA), the professional organization for those making their living from bluegrass music, will be sponsoring Bluegrass Pride in 2018.
This is wonderful news for LGBTQ+ folks in the bluegrass community. Our voices have not only been heard but acknowledged. We should all thank the IBMA and welcome this news as a huge step in the right direction.
But as President Josiah Bartlet famously asked, “What’s next?”
I’ve been trying to come up with a post for this blog for weeks without success. Words have failed me. And I write for a living. When words fail me, there’s usually a pretty good reason. I think I have it now.