The Queer Ally Guide to Throwing a Pride Concert

ISSUE 19 2019 - DO NOT REUSE
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Reynolds onstage at the LoveLoud Festival on June 29.

From Dan Reynolds' LoveLoud Festival Powered by AT&T to Go West Fest, which Charli XCX launched with Troye Sivan this past June, music’s biggest allies are increasingly working to uplift LGBTQ people with festivals and concerts. Here, artists and organizers share their tips for ensuring these events make a difference in the queer community.

1. Get queer people involved.

This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s no less essential: Invite LGBTQ artists to be a part of not just the lineup but also the planning process. Pop artist Dorian Electra, who performed at Troye Sivan and Charli XCX’s inaugural Go West Fest in June, says, “It's queer artists who have their ear to the ground in the queer music community -- both underground and mainstream -- and are a genuine, active part of those communities.” LoveLoud and its foundation, started by Imagine Dragons’ Dan Reynolds in 2017, also have an advisory board that includes Wrabel, Daya and VINCINT. Adds Electra: “Diversity in every capacity is super important.”

2. Check your motivations.

“When your goal is to make money, it shows,” says Los Angeles-based visual artist Faye Orlove, who curated arts programming at Go West Fest. “There are rainbow-colored cash-grabs everywhere, especially during Pride, trying to make money off the backs of young queer people." 

Pop star Allie X, who has a sizable LGBTQ fan base and often performs in queer spaces, says she looks for a “message of acceptance” when vetting bookings. If it’s a corporate event, she researches their policies: “If they’re doing anything I morally disagree with, that would be a no from me.”

3. Include a philanthropic component.

“It’s important to use the platform, and the income an event generates, for the greater good,” says Allie X. A portion of the proceeds from Go West Fest went to GLAAD, while LoveLoud benefits groups like The Trevor Project and the Human Rights Campaign.

“All of the organizations align with our core mission,” says Clarissa Savage, a member of the LoveLoud booking team who also secured speakers like Emma González and Lena Waithe. “They are the ones with the boots on the ground, making a difference in the lives of our LGBTQ friends and family.”

A version of this article originally appeared in the Aug. 10 issue of Billboard.


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