Halfway through their “I’ve Loved You For So Long” world tour, The Aces’ Cristal and Alisa Ramirez, Katie Henderson, and McKenna Petty found time to chat with GLAAD about everything from the highlights of the tour so far, the challenges they faced as queer people living in conservative Utah, the power of representation, and their work to end the stigma surrounding mental health.
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“This is our biggest headline show to date,” guitarist Katie Henderson said excitedly before the show. They hoped their New York show would go more smoothly than their DC show the week before, where some “intense technical difficulties” almost cut their set short. Fortunately, after a round of shots with the audience, they made it work.
The Aces’ 2023 album “I’ve Loved You For So Long” has been described as “a love letter to their teenage selves that unravels childhood trauma, self-discovery, and queer joy in an effervescent time capsule.”
When asked what message they would tell their younger selves, bassist McKenna Petty started by saying “trust your intuition and don’t worry so much about what other people think about you.” The rest of the band couldn’t have agreed more. “I think as a teenager it’s really easy to try and just blend into your surroundings rather than really just do your own thing.” drummer Alisa added.
When talking about queer role models the band looked up to growing up and to this day, they were all on the same page: Tegan and Sara.
“Tegan and Sara are artists who are not just queer, they are very proudly queer. A lot of their fan culture and the way they talk onstage is around their queerness and relationships and they are very open about who they are,” lead singer Cristal Ramirez shared. “That openness and transparency was really life changing for me to see as a teenager… They gave me the green light of knowing you can be queer and be successful.”
Henderson reflected on the time in high school she and Cristal flew from Utah to California to see Tegan and Sara live. “I remember that being a really big eye opening experience for me,” she said, revealing it was the first time she was in a predominately queer space.
They were thrilled to be sharing their platform with queer artist Carol Ades who was opening for them, the same way Tegan and Sara had done for them in the past.
The Aces feel grateful to know they are having that same impact on their LGBTQ fans. “That was all we ever really wanted as a band,” Cristal revealed. “We really feel that responsibility to pay it forward when we tour. Especially when we go to the south and different parts of the country that are still so homophobic, you really remember how important it is to be out and proud.”
Alisa spoke about how hearing from fans who see their shows as a safe space is especially meaningful to them as they were all raised Mormon in Utah. “When fans tell us about their experiences about what our music does for them it just further encourages us to continue to be really authentic and forward with our queerness.”
In the spirit of Spirit Day coming up, sisters Cristal and Alisa both offered some candid advice for young queer people who may still be figuring out who they are. For Alisa, finding supportive friends is the most important thing. “Try to find some semblance of community of people that can be your safe space.”
“Especially when you come from a place where it’s really scary to own your identity, I think you need to give yourself all the time in the world to get comfortable privately. And you don’t have to come out immediately,” Cristal added.
For this tour, the band has partnered with Sound Mind Live, a non-profit working to amplify awareness about mental health. Cristal shared that, “This record talks so much about mental health and specifically mental health around queerness. It was super important for us to be able to give resources to our fans and people in the cities that might really be struggling.”