On Thursday, Billboard and The Hollywood Reporter will host the inaugural Pride Summit. The event, taking place at The 1 Hotel in Los Angeles, will feature artists including Hayley Kiyoko, Tegan and Sara, Big Freedia and many more discussing important issues like bringing queer songwriters into the studio, supporting emerging LGBTQ talent and more.
Ahead of the summit, attendees Kiyoko, Freedia and Tegan Quin, along with pop-rock star Adam Lambert, sat down for a video interview with Billboard to discuss their own personal experiences with homophobia in the music industry. As they tell it, homophobia is still a rampant and prevalent issue facing queer artists today.
“I think in many cases, a lot of people that were the gatekeepers in these situations might not have been homophobic themselves, on a personal level,” Lambert says. “But [they] were fearful for how it would work for an openly gay artist to work in a mainstream music situation.”
Quin, for example, recalled coming up in the music scene of the late ‘90s and early 2000’s, and how many in the industry had no recourse for how to approach the subject of an artist’s sexuality. “I think people didn’t really have the vernacular to talk about it, and they weren’t comfortable talking about it,” she says. “That’s really improved. [But] there’s some weird stuff. I’m holding some grudges, I’m not going to lie. I have a list.”
Freedia said that “of course” she has faced homophobia in the industry, but added that she chooses to steer clear of obstructive people in order to keep her head in the game. “I keep that negative energy away from me and just be around the people that love me and love what I am doing,” she says.
But for Kiyoko, the important message has always been to push past the expectations of others. “We want to create our own narratives,” she says. “You do experience judgment, because life is full of judgment. So it’s important to just keep pushing and keep moving forward.”
Kiyoko, Quin and Freedia also spoke about what it means to them, being involved in Billboard’s first inaugural Pride Summit. “I’m just excited to be a part of the first of anything,” Quin says. “I love all of the people who are gonna be here, and I’m just really excited to see what happens.”
Freedia said that her main goal is to make sure that people have “an amazing time … and that they will take something away from the event.” Kiyoko agrees, saying “it’s important to continue championing our community. Pride is not just one month, it is every day of the year.”
You can check out the full versions of both videos above. To hear more conversations like this one, register here for Billboard and The Hollywood Reporter’s Pride Summit.