As the years have worn on, June and Pride Month have taken on increasingly important meanings in the LGBTQ+ community. What began as a commemoration of the Stonewall riots has evolved in both predictable ways, a la rainbow capitalism, and the less predictable but always welcome people in positions of power taking positive stances for the community.
In the music industry, Pride Month is meant to be a celebration of fearless artists who bridge the gap between persona and authenticity, even when the world at large is still a hostile place. Though most artists are thrilled with the progress made in the industry, they still collectively realize there is still more work to be done.
For Audiomack World, pineappleCITI, MK xyz, Kidd Kenn, Ryland James, Tayla Parx, Siena Liggins, Andrea Russett, and Jake Wesley Rogers spoke candidly about Pride’s meaning in 2021 and how the music industry can do better.
What does Pride mean to you in 2021?
“Pride means visibility. It means representation for being your most authentic self and having the confidence in showing ownership. It's unity! To me, that's what XYZ is all about. Emphasizing beautiful queer lives in the universe.” —MK xyz
“I’d say Pride means exactly that: having pride. It’s all about being yourself and not letting anyone else stop you from being yourself. That’s what I think Pride is: being who you are.” —Kidd Kenn
“Pride means different things to different people, but for me, it’s first and foremost about owning my personal power. It’s about expressing the most authentic version of myself openly to others and being happy and unashamed sharing that. It’s about feeling a sense of unity and joy attached to the unique contributions that I and the rest of the people in my community can make each day, striving for the greater good of our world. This will be the first year that I get to express and feel my own Pride comfortably and openly, and that in itself is the best feeling I could ever ask for.” —Ryland James
“Coming out of a year that was hard for everyone but especially hard for people who live within societal margins, Pride in 2021 is the perfect reminder that we are all human and therein lies vulnerability and opportunities for empathy, love, and equity.” —Siena Liggins
“Pride means inclusivity and intersectionality to me in 2021 and every year before or after. Pride wouldn’t exist without the fearlessness and sacrifice of Black and brown trans activists, and I think we need to continually remind people of that each year. If your pride isn’t intersectional, then it isn’t pride.” —Tayla Parx
How do you express Pride in your music?
“In every song, I want to be my truest self. Whatever I feel at the moment of making it, I just let that flow through me. After a show, one of my fans told me that it’s dope to see someone like them making music for them. That was such an amazing thing to hear, but truth be told, the representation comes naturally. I don’t try to make music specifically about my identity. I just listen to a track and pour out my soul. I’m so proud of who I am, and I’m thankful that others can find some pride in themselves too. The absolute greatest thing to be in this life is yourself.” —pineappleCITI
“I express Pride in my music by putting my whole entire little rainbow soul in my songs. I’m thrilled to be putting out some music this summer that directly shouts out some of my LGBTQ+ heroes. I feel there’s a queer tapestry that began long before I was born and will continue being woven long after I’m gone. I’m just trying to put some beautiful patches in it while I’m here.” —Jake Wesley Rogers
“As a true believer in being unapologetically me, my music reflects the same energy. It’s queer, it’s Black, it’s loud, it’s inclusive, it’s fun!” —MK xyz
“I express pride in my music through my incredibly honest lyrics. I take pride in my willingness to put myself out there in ways that hopefully make others feel less alone and maybe understand themselves a little better.” —Andrea Russett
“In my music, I like to be very forward and descriptive with the pride I have in my sexuality and love for women. I use lyrics and lighthearted melodies to talk about the girls whose hearts I’ve won (many) and those I’ve lost (many more).” —Siena Liggins
“In terms of the future, the music that I’m making is much bolder and more honest. I’m writing about really true personal experiences a lot more often than I used to, and I’m not afraid of speaking the truth anymore. The relationship I’m in now has opened my world up to so much possibility, and the only consistent thing I really can express from here on out in my career is Pride, in who I am and in the people I represent.” —Ryland James
How can the music industry be more welcoming to LGBTQ+ artists?
“The music industry has been a lot more welcoming lately, which is great. There’s definitely more to do. One thing I’d say is to shine more spotlight on all flavors of LGBTQ+ and not just ones that meet a certain stereotype. No one member of the community can represent LGBTQ+ fully. I think as time goes on, we’ll see a better spectrum of representation.” —pineappleCITI
“The music industry can be more welcoming to LGBTQ+ by giving them platforms! Growing up, ‘gay icons’ were mostly all straight, cisgendered women. I think it’s time to elevate actual queer artists and give them the resources that they’ve been denied for so long.” —Jake Wesley Rogers
“The music industry could be more welcoming through not lumping all queer artists together, or using us as a way to fill a certain quota or push an agenda. Our experiences and storytelling are eclectic and individually valuable, and we shouldn’t be looked at just another check box to fill for your award show or playlist.” —Tayla Parx
“Thankfully, the general atmosphere of creativity and encouragement of pushing boundaries in this industry can make for more people that are open and accepting of differences than what you might find elsewhere, but at the same time that truth isn’t universal, and there’s much work to be done to make it a safer, more comfortable place for everyone. Ten years ago, five years ago, even one year ago, the level of acceptance for our community was very different. More people are openly displaying their own Pride and their support of Pride in this industry, and it’s a beautiful thing. There’s power in numbers, and those numbers are only growing.” —Ryland James