Music festivals have transformed from a transient trend to an integral component of the cultural tapestry of the music industry. There’s no denying that the vibrant festival atmosphere is one that’s created by the collective coming together of people to embark on a musical journey and experience. And while embracing the liberating spirit of festival culture is a universal truth for so many, the space for highlighting queer experiences through music, art and expression is largely untapped across the music industry at-large, especially in mainstream music.
In the bustling city of New York, one year ago, the talented singer-songwriter Kiernan and the visionary Price Troche joined forces to establish a festival that not only celebrates inclusivity but also amplifies the voices and experiences of queer artists. By definition, Queerchella aims to create a platform where diversity thrives and the talents of the LGBTQ community are showcased and celebrated.
Queerchella, the sole monthly festival in New York City, has successfully booked more than 70 LGBTQ artists and remains at the forefront of the local music scene. Artists from diverse genres are welcomed to submit their works to Queerchella through online applications, ensuring each show is distinct. The individuality of every performer contributes to the allure of Queerchella, as it unites artists of various backgrounds to curate an entertaining lineup and revel in an evening of queer art.
In an interview with GLAAD, Kiernan candidly recounted the profound moment he recognized his aspiration to create Queerchella: “When I first started doing it, it was because I ended up on a random queer lineup and it was like, Wow, what a difference being with other queer artists and queer audiences who get the experience that we’re singing about, they understand what we mean, they understand where we’re coming from, in a different way.”
The LGBTQ experience is constantly evolving, and Kiernan and Price envisioned Queerchella as a platform to showcase the inherent beauty of the fluidity within the LGBTQ community. Kiernan and Price recognized that Queerchella would swiftly evolve into a haven for artists from diverse backgrounds. The festival fosters an appreciation for the significance of a safe space within the LGBTQ community and cultivates an opportunity for LGBTQ individuals to seek solace, understand, and wholeheartedly accept their authentic identities.
Queerchella has made significant progress in the NYC music scene. Initially, they started booking bands at the eclectic live music venue, The Bowery Electric. During Pride month, the team then collaborated with Culture Lab LIC, a non-profit art gallery in Long Island City, that offers assistance to artists in New York City. Presently, Queerchella found its home at 3 Dollar Bill, the largest LGBTQ -owned and operated nightclub in New York City.
The presence of artists with unique creative expressions is essential, and music festivals like Queerchella play a crucial role during this pivotal moment for the LGBTQ community. Kiernan shared, “During one of my favorite Queerchellas, an artist named Ellie Van Amerongen sang a song called “If You Don’t Feel Like A Girl” and the fact that a trans artist felt comfortable to perform a song about a deeply personal and relatable experience truly enlightened me on the significance and influence of Queerchella within our community.”
On October 8th, Queerchella marked its first anniversary by showcasing some of the most popular emerging artists in New York City. Jayse Vegas, a prominent advocate, singer/songwriter, and creator served as the event’s host alongside Thee Queen Princess, a gifted emerging R&B singer-songwriter. Their captivating presence and undeniable talent mesmerized the audience throughout the festival, solidifying their esteemed status as invaluable queer artists within the city’s vibrant music scene. The room was filled with a palpable sense of security and affection as each performer took the stage. In light of the numerous instances of violence targeting the LGBTQ community, Queerchella takes great care to ensure that the festival remains a sanctuary of safety and protection. “Queerchella at Culture Lab in Long Island City was our first outdoor and indoor fest with multiple stages and we knew we needed The Bad Judies – New York’s Only all drag queen band. Not only did we have a larger team managing the event, we prioritized security to protect both the performers and attendees. Despite the government’s recent attacks on drag and the LGBTQ community, we wanted to make a statement and let it be known that no anti-LGBTQ sentiments can stop us from creating queer art. The Bad Judies are unique in many ways but also because they prove LGBTQ art is important for society.”
Queerchella remains undeterred by the discriminatory actions targeting the LGBTQ community, as it perseveres in establishing an inclusive environment where the LGBTQ community can truly experience freedom. As the year closes, Kiernan shared his dreams for the future of Queerchella, “We are taking Queerchella on the road! The team is so excited for the year ahead, we plan on visiting different cities, playing more intimate shows and helping more queer artists find their way in the music scene. No one has to be queer to attend Queerchella, just have an open mind and it’s a good time.” Queerchella embraces the LGBTQ experience and empowers queer artists to overcome their fears. In a world where the LGBTQ community often feel unseen, Queerchella stands out as a reliable source of both enjoyment and inspiration. Queerchella is at the forefront of establishing queer art as an essential component in society. Stay connected and learn more about Queerchella here and catch the next installment of Queerchella at 3 Dollar Bill on November 19th.