The pride parade tradition was born out of the painful struggle for recognition and acceptance of LGBT people within society. For decades, same-sex private sexual behavior was criminalized and considered pathological. LGBT bars and meeting places were repeatedly raided, and people’s careers could be destroyed if they were outed. That changed in 1969 when transgender women, gay men, and lesbians fought back against a raid of the Stonewall Inn in New York City. After that turning point, members of the LGBT community banded together to begin openly and actively celebrating their lives, and pushing back against legal discrimination. The annual pride parade is a commemoration of that pivotal moment in LGBT civil rights history.
LGBT people often lack important personal support structures. Many have been ostracized by friends, family, and employers. Those of us fortunate to live in more accepting places often moved there from less-welcoming areas, and the fears of negative reactions follow us still. Some older men and woman even find themselves going back into the closet during retirement. By participating in the Pride NW we are saying that LGBT folks can find a supportive space to enjoy Bluegrass music, that jams can be inclusive, and that they can find new friends to go to shows and festivals.
Mainstream LGBT-positive music tends towards pop and electronica, which doesn’t always work for everyone. LGBT listeners are hungry for other kinds of music and musical spaces where they can express themselves openly. Bluegrass, with its multi-part harmonies, traditional songs, lyrics about lonesomeness and longing, and cooperative playing style readily appeals to an LGBT audience.
We’d like to invite you to join us in celebrating Oregon Bluegrass Pride!