Mission & History
Our mission is to recruit, encourage, and support LGBTQ+ bluegrassers of all levels, promoting their advancement and acceptance within all areas of the bluegrass music industry and musical community. We aim to uplift the genre of bluegrass as a whole to receive LGBTQ+ folks openly, and to promote allyship with all marginalized peoples within the industry and musical community. We do so by creating opportunities for community building and resources for musical skill development, such as concerts, jam sessions, showcases, festivals, parades, tutorials, recording, and more!
We started as a side project of the California Bluegrass Association, with the original goal of helping bring bluegrass music to a new audience via a float at the 2017 SF Pride Parade. 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 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 LGBTQ+ Musician Showcase in IBMA history, an event that drew a packed house of bluegrass fans and local LGBTQ+ folks celebrating Pride.
Today, we operate as our own organization and are constantly pursuing new avenues through which to provide more opportunities for the musical and professional development of LGBTQ+ bluegrassers, and for community development within the bluegrass scene.