To round out GRAMMY Week 2024, in partnership with GLAAD and OUTLOUD, the Recording Academy launched Academy Proud – a new initiative aiming to support and amplify LGBTQIA+ voices and drive queer representation at not only the Recording Academy, but the music industry at-large.
In addition to a star-studded red carpet and enticing photo opportunities, the event featured live music from DJs Domo and Brian Henry, both of whom provided the perfect soundtrack for a celebration of LGBTQ culture, artistry, and voices in music. The energy at Rolling Greens in Downtown LA was electric as the community came together for a historic convening.
This collaboration with the Recording Academy is first of its kind and a testament to GLAAD’s continued and ever-evolving influence in the entertainment and media realms., GLAAD remains committed to providing a platform and opportunities to the most marginalized voices within the community, especially in music . Alongside further uplifting LGBTQ voices and our impact in the music industry, Academy Proud also served as the debut for GLAAD’s Equity in Media and Entertainment Initiative (EMEI) 2024 Cohort.
The Equity in Media and Entertainment Initiative (EMEI), a year-long pathway program created by GLAAD’s Communities of Color and Media Department and supported by Gilead Sciences, is designed to specifically pipeline and elevate Black LGBTQ+ creatives and Black queer storytelling across entertainment, in Hollywood and media at-large. GLAAD’s EMEI program serves as a pathway to build and strengthen professional networks, advance access to executive leaders and spaces, and support early development of original creative projects.
For the second year of the three year-long initiative, the Communities of Color and Media Department is focusing on Black LGBTQ+ independent music artists. The 2024 cohort includes 2 AM Ricky, Albanus Thierry, Asiahn, Damez, Mylah Muse, Shah, Siaria Shawn, Suni MF, Victor Jackson, and Neveringending Nina, who deserve our support and collective praise for the work they’ve created on their musical career journey.
While numerous LGBTQ artists (including Victoria Monét, Phoebe Bridgers, Miley Cyrus, boygenius, Brandy Clark, Ice Spice, Allison Russell, Troye Sivan, Brothers Osborne, and Janelle Monáe, among others) received GRAMMYs nominations this year, there is still ample space to ensure more diverse artists and contenders are considered and centered. More events and initiatives like Academy Proud and EMEI, designed with intention by organizations and entities like the Recording Academy and GLAAD, are necessary to build true equity and equality for LGBTQ artists of color, for those who don’t often see their full selves represented within the music industry.
Reflecting on Academy Proud and the need for support systems for LGBTQ artists of color, Communities of Color and Media Director DaShawn Usher said: “We couldn’t be more excited to partner with the Recording Academy for this much-needed representation in the music industry. We’ve gone decades behind the scenes and recently started to see the emergence and due success of LGBTQ artists, producers, songwriters, and other contributors to music.”
In addition to building a pipeline for diverse creatives and artists like the EMEI cohort to connect to industry professionals, GLAAD’s Communities of Color and Media Department works to connect other creatives, storytellers, and entertainment experts to health equity and service organizations, fostering greater networks for potential storytelling, awareness building, and cross-industry advocacy efforts. Among those also invited were The Gilead COMPASS Initiative Coordinating Centers and COMPASS Grantees from the US South including the Normal Anomaly, Eagle Pass SAFE, Out of My Closet, and local HIV service organization TruEvolution to attend. We were honored to have Mardrequs Harris (Southern AIDS Coalition), Marvell L. Terry II (Consultant & Advocate), Rashad Burgess (Gilead Sciences), and attendees of the inaugural Black Queer Creative Summit (BQCS) as some of those who were able to join us for an afternoon of celebration and thoughtful conversation and connection.
As GLAAD continues to work towards 100% acceptance and inclusion within all sectors of the entertainment industry, it is key to continue forging landmark events and partnerships such as Academy Proud, and to continue working collaboratively to support the stories and storytellers that champion our community and the issues that impact us most.
About GRAMMY House
The dynamic GRAMMY Week destination is carefully curated to honor and inspire a diverse community of music creators and professionals. Programming kicks off with a celebration of Women In The Mix® and continues with an independent music panel, an emerging artist showcase, a GRAMMY U® Masterclass presented by Mastercard, and the third annual #GRAMMYsNextGen party. GRAMMY House concludes with the debut of Academy Proud – the Recording Academy’s new initiative dedicated to uplifting the LGBTQIA+ community. Additionally, to commemorate their 25th Anniversary, The Latin Recording Academy will exhibit a time capsule that showcases important and memorable moments of Latin GRAMMY history, which will be available for guests to visit throughout the duration of GRAMMY House.