While the last decade has seen the music industry take massive strides toward greater acceptance of LGBTQ voices, many queer artists around the world still feel the struggle of fighting against homophobia within the industry. What can be done to combat this ongoing problem for queer artists?
Billboard sat down with queer singer-songwriter and activist Justin Tranter and music attorney Aaron Rosenberg to discuss this ongoing issue in a new video (above). Tranter says that homophobia within the industry is still rampant, and “shows up in so many different ways.”
For example, Tranter recalls first going on tour with his band Semi-Precious Weapons and getting vitriol from the press and audience members for openly presenting as queer. “The things that the press would say and that people online would say were so appalling,” he says. “And yet, very rarely would my label or people involved in my business ever try to do something. It was like, ‘This is just how it’s going to be.’”
Tranter and Rosenberg filmed this video ahead of Billboard and The Hollywood Reporter’s upcoming Pride Summit, where both individuals, along with artists and executives from all over the industry, will be discussing important issues like homophobia, acceptance, the future of the music industry, coming out and so much more.
Rosenberg added onto Tranter’s assessment that there is an expectation that artists are supposed to make music that “everyone” can relate to. “Feeling like certain people, because of their LGBTQ background, can’t understand certain points of view … is debilitating,” he says. “And it has silenced many voices, I believe.”
But both Tranter and Rosenberg say that there is a clear path toward greater acceptance. For Rosenberg, visibility is crucial. “The one thing that we can do is just what you guys are doing,” he says. “Continue to put people from our community on the cover of the magazine, continue to speak out, continue to have events and functions where you raise awareness.”
Tranter agreed, adding that artists and executives who tout themselves as allies have a responsibility to back that up with action. “If you are claiming to be an ally, then you have to fucking actually do it,” he says. “You have to walk the walk, and you have to talk the talk.”
Billboard and The Hollywood Reporter’s inaugural Pride Summit will take place on Aug. 8 in Los Angeles. Taking place at The 1 Hotel in West Hollywood, the day-long event will feature out artists, executives, influencers and more, discussing the importance of queer visibility in today’s media landscape. Registration for the event is open here.