Written by Lauryn.
The creative industries are a place for expression. It’s a sector that champions itself on its activism and ability to bring about change. Many who have been ousted, marginalised and targeted by wider society have found a haven in the arts yet inclusivity and representation remain prevalent issues. As a result, throughout history, both recent and not-so-recent, communities including the LGBTQI+ and those with intersectional identities have carved their own paths to creative freedom and acknowledgement.
Many organisations, magazines, queer club nights (check out A Profile Of Queer – part of our digital Pride programme!) as well as more established queer venues such as Heaven have all formed out of a need for uninhibited and uncensored expression. According to a report published by Stonewall in late 2017, one in six LGBT people who visited a café, restaurant, bar or nightclub in the 12 months prior were discriminated against based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Safe spaces are not a case of ‘special snowflake syndrome’ but of survival. (Note that this is just in the realm of leisure, not even beginning to delve into the general statistics which in more recent years have shown an increase in the number of anti-LGBT hate crimes reported but a decrease in prosecutions.)
There is generally growing inclusivity in the music industry, however this has presented its own issues – tokenism, quotas and performative ‘support’ seem to be an inevitable part of the equation. Organisations with few queer people on their teams releasing thoughtless ‘woke’ campaigns. Non-queer A-list artists paid fees that almost match the entire content budget for Pride in previous years; grant funding available to LGBT+ groups insignificant in comparison to their six-figure pay. There is also another battle to be fought. Pride vs. capitalism, if you will.
However, all is not lost. Pride was started by QTIPOC – the very people with the least social privilege, experiencing multiple angles of discrimination and systemic oppression. If this in itself isn’t an indication of strength and what can be achieved, then I don’t know what is. Covid-19 may have derailed group events for the LGBTQIA+ community worldwide, but safe spaces to express Pride, especially through music and the arts, will continue to exist and grow genuinely as long as there is passion and drive behind the cause.