Few events can fully display the full range of talent on campus. But this Friday, students have the opportunity to see several talented students perform under the same roof at the second annual Queer Lady Music Expo. The Women’s Center and LGBTQ Center, which will be hosting the expo, both host events throughout the year to engage the campus through a variety of events and programs.
Both centers recently helped put on the Privilege Campaign II, which featured photos of students and administrators reflecting on issues regarding privilege. The shots were displayed in the Villard Room and accompanied speakers and discussions surrounding class and privilege-related issues on campus.
The two centers have a history of collaboration. According to one of the student interns working on the event, Erin Boss ’16, “the two centers have been collaborating for a number of years and last year, when we had our first meeting for the Spring semester, us interns wondered what we could do differently to revitalize Queer Womens’ spaces.”
The result was the decision to host another music exposition. Boss explains, “one of us kind of just spit it out, like ‘what if we had a music expo?’ and so then we did it. The idea of the event is that queer women students have a chance to show any kind of musical skills they have and that can mean opera or singer/ songwriter, DJ, music bands, spoken word…”
The content is extremely diverse and just about anyone can perform. The purpose of the exposition is to create a safe, supportive place for performers. Boss says, “it’s very loose and they can… [perform] in a supportive atmosphere where you don’t have to compete against anyone. We particularly want people to feel empowered. Especially when it can be intimidating as a female artist in music circles to kind of get going when it’s very male-dominated.”
The audience, according to Boss, plays an important part in creating this accepting atmosphere. Bringing together a diverse group of people to celebrate musical talent helps encourage performers and spread these organizations’ messages on campus. Of last year’s exposition, Boss says, “A really cool thing in the community happened where a lot of people of all genders came together to watch the event and support people who were queer and female. It was really awesome. We had about 50 people attend.”
According to Boss, last year’s event was a huge success. “We probably had about 15 performers total last year. The event was emceed by Yanee Ferrari ‘15. We had everything from singer / songwriter, the band The Revolting Hags, spoken word poetry, just like singers getting up and singing, whistling, violin, dance, and I think it was an incredible atmosphere,” she says.
Ferrari kept the audience entertained with funky costume changes throughout the show. “Yanee did a great job in creating a welcoming atmosphere where anyone could just come up and do something off the top of their heads… [she] really engaged the audience. She stood out to me because she would have some sort of costume change before each act and was really charismatic as an emcee and I think helped everyone feel comfortable,” says Boss.
This year, Priya Nair ’15 and Shivani Davé ’15 will be hosting the exposition. Nair commented on her anticipation of the event, “It’s going to be a great show–we have some amazing queer women and femmes on this campus doing beautiful and thoughtful music. I’m not really sure what hosting entails. I’ve never done something like this before. Last year Yanee Ferrari hosted and she changed outfits between every set. It was great. I’m just hoping to make some people laugh.”
The event is already generating buzz among prospective attendees. One student attending the event, Ally Fernandez ’18, notes the fun and importance of these kinds of events on campus. “I’m just a fan of good music, plus I love what it represents. I think events like this play such an important role. For me personally, I’m going as a way to get more involved with the LGBTQ community without a lot of pressure,“ she says. Another attendee, Emily Bender ’17 reiterates the importance of holding these kinds of events on campus. She writes, “As a queer identified person myself I think it’s important to bring together members of the queer community – especially queer women.”
To Fernandez, the exposition is a nice balance of activism and fun, seriousness and relaxation. She elaborates, “Most queer events on campus are either super heavy or parties, I think this is a nice kind of in between. I definitely think that’s significant.” Bender agrees that music offers a unique way to reach the student body. “I think it’s really cool to center these events through creative outlets, such as through music. I always love to go and see the tons of talent the student body possesses,” she says.
The Queer Lady Music Expo brings together many different kinds of artists to perform in a safe, relaxed space. According to Boss, some audience members were so moved by certain performances that they got up in the spur of the moment to sing themselves. This kind of environment is what attracts people like Fernandez to the event. “I think a bunch of people should come…I just think it’s awesome, and I’m excited to go. Hopefully I’ll hear some good music, have some fun, [and] smash the heteropatriarchy,” she says.