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2SLGBTQIA+ Musicians

Happy Pride Month! Every year, June is marked as a time to celebrate the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, as it marks the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots of 1969. The Stonewall Inn in New York City was a long-standing safe space for members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. After facing pervasive police oppression, a group of drag queens and members of the community fought back against the violence. These riots are largely considered to be the spark of the gay rights movement.

Though much progress has been made in terms of securing rights for gay and transgender people, it is important to remember that Pride started as and remains a protest. There is still a long way to go. This year has marked a terrifying trend of anti-2SLGBTQIA+ legislation in the United States, leading the Human Rights Campaign, a 2SLGBTQIA+ advocacy group in the U.S., to issue a state of emergency for 2SLGBTQIA+ people. Being Canadian, it can be easy to think this type of discrimination is far away and doesn’t affect us, but that is simply not the case.

Bandology is a Halton-based non-profit dedicated to bringing more music to more kids in our community. Only weeks ago, in the Halton region, there were protests against drag performances. Being an active ally and providing support for members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community is as important now as it ever has been, and Bandology strives to be a group which supports and advocates for the entire community. Drag is an art form just like any other, one that allows those who perform to be uniquely and unapologetically themselves. These kinds of performances align with our own mission to inspire youth to express themselves through music.

 

As an arts-based organization with programming geared towards children and youth, we understand how important it is that we remain a safe and inclusive space for all students who attend our workshops, perform gigs with us or join us at Band Camp. We remain dedicated to providing these safe spaces year-round, as every child deserves to be themselves without fear of judgment or being excluded. Bandology also continues to remain focused on being an equal rights employer with an inclusive workplace for all. This has been and will continue to be an important part of our mandate.

 

Music is a universal language and every student should have the chance to be involved in this art that will provide them with tools to be successful in whatever they pursue. As a part of our dedication to supporting the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, we have linked some resources below. We encourage everyone to take the time to educate themselves this month and throughout the year, so we can all be effective allies.

k.d. lang

k.d. lang is a lesbian Canadian artist who advocates for the rights and support of the LGBTQ+ community in Canada and beyond. She rose to fame in the 1980s with her unique, experimental sound that blended a variety of genres, including country, folk, pop, rock and alternative. She has received four Grammys, nine Juno Awards and The Order of Canada over the course of her career. One of her most memorable performances was at the Olympics Opening Ceremony in Vancouver 2010, where she performed Canadian Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”  lang came out as a lesbian in a 1992 article in LGBT news magazine The Advocate.

Since then she has been a champion for gay rights, supporting HIV/AIDS care and research. Despite being worried about ostracization by the country music industry when she came out, lang has stated that it “felt like it was the most responsible thing for society and myself.” Though she struggled with some fallout after coming out, Nashville and the country music community were overall accepting and she still found success. In 2011 she was inducted into the Q Hall of Fame Canada, a national resource that houses and commemorates the LGBTQ+ community in Canada.

Tegan and Sara

Tegan and Sara are a Canadian indie pop duo, consisting of identical twin sisters Tegan and Sara Quin. They started performing as teenagers in the 1990s and released their debut album Under Feet Like Ours in 1999, touring extensively and continuing to release music ever since. Throughout their career, they have been nominated for a Grammy, won three Junos, and won two GLAAD awards, which honour representation of the LGBTQ+ in media. Many of their songs have been featured in movies and TV shows such as Dallas Buyers Club, The Lego Movie, Grey’s Anatomy, The Vampire Diaries and Riverdale. Their song “Closer” was even covered on an episode of Glee.

In 2019 they released their memoir entitled High School, which covers their childhood in Alberta and their musical beginnings. Tegan and Sara are both openly gay. In the wake of the 2016 United States presidential election, the sisters founded the Tegan and Sara Foundation, which fights for “economic justice, health and representation for LGBTQ+ girls and women.” They have dedicated profits from their own tours as well as partnerships with brands such as Kiehl’s cosmetics to their foundation.

Vivek Shraya

Vivek Shraya is a Canadian musician, writer and visual artist who incorporates her identity into her art. She released her first album in 2002 and has since released a dozen more solo albums that span a variety of genres. Her published literary works include an illustrated collection of short stories, a poetry collection, children’s picture books, graphic novels and more. Her visual art includes short films, a photo series and the theatrical play “How to Fail as a Popstar,” which depicts “the power of pop culture, dreams, disappointments and self-determination.” The play is currently being adapted for television with the help of CBC. Her work centers around themes of growing up as an immigrant queer person of colour. She came out as a trans woman in 2016 and identifies as bisexual.

Shraya founded an award-winning publishing imprint V.S. Books, which gives opportunities to emerging BIPOC writers. Shraya is also the director of the board of the Tegan and Sara Foundation and served as Pride Toronto Grand Marshal. She is currently an assistant professor in the creative writing program at the University of Calgary.

Queer Songbook Orchestra

The Queer Songbook Orchestra is a fourteen-piece chamber pop ensemble. The orchestra records and performs orchestral covers of pop songs with meaning to the LGBTQ+ community. Songs vary from being explicitly LGBTQ+ themed to songs that have “touched a queer life in a way.” When performed, the song is paired with a reading of why the group chose that song, sharing the story of the queer life (or lives) it has touched. Shaun Brodie founded the group in 2014 and currently serves as the Artistic Director. They often partner with other queer and BIPOC Canadian artists and storytellers for their performances. In 2018 they released their debut album Anthems & Icons, which features a rendition of a song by k.d. lang.

The group uses stories and songs to honour and share stories of the LGBTQ+ experience as they believe that sharing these stories is a powerful tool to communicate and spread awareness. They also provide opportunities for mentorship and support within their community and are dedicated to anti-racism and homophobia. They have toured all over Canada and been featured at numerous Canadian performing arts festivals.

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