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?”
Just two short years after the first Shout & Shine diversity showcase was hosted at IBMA World of Bluegrass 2016, the IBMA is demonstrating its commitment to developing the spirit of inclusivity as a fundamental characteristic of the bluegrass music community by partnering with two bluegrass-centered non-profits, Bluegrass Pride and The Handsome Ladies. As a driving force for the advancement of bluegrass music for over 30 years, this sponsorship exemplifies the IBMA’s stated core value of diversity and inclusivity in bluegrass music.
My Strawberry family taught me how to love and care for one another. They taught me the importance of self-expression. At Strawberry, I was free to run barefoot, sing loud, catch and release tadpoles and trust those around me. Over the years I had my owies bandaged by “strangers”, danced beneath the birch trees by the lake and observed the overflowing joy exuded on those jubilant Sunday morning revival sessions. Strawberry planted the seed which grew into my adoration of bluegrass and folk music. Bonded by the love of music, my Strawberry family showed me a different way of communing, uncommon to my world back home of suburban living and parochial schooling.