When a Festival is More Than a Festival: OUTLOUD and LGBTQ Represenation in the Arts

Copyright: 2022 Jon Viscott www.viscottimages.com

As I walked into the beating heart of the Outloud Music Fest this summer, held amid the vibrant streets of West Hollywood’s Pride Fest, it purposefully hit me. The air, radiating warmth, echoes of laughter, mingled with the rich tapestry of live music—a love letter to diversity, a rallying cry for representation. Oh the joy, the pure exhilarating joy, it felt like a homecoming, a community of color, sound, and unfettered pride. 

What was on display—charismatic artists, jubilant spectators, the powerful chord that LGBTQ+ representation struck—is an undeniable truth. That the arts, music, and festival scene thrives on its beautifully varied identity. It breathes, dances, sings with the life force of the LGBTQ+ community. And where better to celebrate that truth, that lively, pulsating heartbeat, than festivals like Outloud in the City of Stars? 

“Inclusivity and representation aren’t just buzzwords in these arenas. They’re the foundations on which a whole new world of celebration is being built, one where every color of the rainbow flag flies high and proud.” – Corey Watson

Crafted with an aim to echo the vibrant spirit, resilience, and diversity of the LGBTQ+ community, the OutLoud Music Festival lineup for 2024 is shaping up to be a show-stopping spectacle. From power anthems that leave your heart pounding to soulful melodies that tug at your heartstrings, this festival makes sure it leaves no note unturned or voice unheard. 

Now, hold onto your festival hats because the lineup boasts a glittering array of LGBTQ+ musical talent that promises nothing short of extraordinary. No need to pinch yourself – you’re not dreaming! Be ready to groove to the rhythm of the stars whose musical prowess blazes a trail of love, freedom, and everything in between. 

Fasten those festival wristbands tight because the sonic sensation, Passion Pit, is heading our way. Mark Foster, the captivating lead of the band, and their electro-pop energy and heartfelt lyrics, Passion Pit enthralls even the most discerning festival-goer. They are a testament to the diversity and resilience in the world of indie music, and their performances always stir up unforgettable emotions – echoing the spirit of OutLoud’s atmosphere. The season of dazzling vibrant love that they stimulate is something everyone – LGBTQ or not – needs to experience once. 

Wait, there’s more! Iconic pop princess Carly Rae Jepsen, who penned the ever-catchy “Call Me Maybe,” is stepping onto the OutLoud stage as well. No stranger to a diverse audience, Carly has always been a beacon of acceptance – her shows are where love in its multitudes takes on a visceral, hummable form. Prepare to croon along to her unforgettable anthems that twist and turn, transporting listeners to a world awash with pastel dreams and neon fantasies. 

Courtesy OutLoud

The OutLoud 2023 lineup doesn’t stop there, my dear festival aficionados. A great plethora of talented artists stands ready to grace the stage with their boundless originality, guiding us on a journey through an extraordinary spectrum of soundscapes. From bold powerhouse vocalists to polarizing lyricists, from genre-bending instrumentalists to trailblazing DJs—each one stands unabashed in their authenticity, embodying the essence of what OutLoud represents. So, keep your heart open and your dancing shoes on – this festival is poised to be nothing short of spectacular!

And here’s what truly set my heart on fire about OutLoud 2023 – it seamlessly converges with the vibrant West Hollywood Pride Fest, playing out simultaneously down the street. A veritable cornucopia of color and celebration, the Pride Fest (with its pulsating fervor for inclusion) radiates a joy that extends to every corner of OutLoud. Imagine the sparks that fly when these two fabulous events intertwine. I can almost taste the air – electric with energy, speckled with the euphoria of acceptance. The rhythm of Pride invariably infuses itself into OutLoud’s symphony, creating a singular, thrilling experience that chants, “You belong.”

Now, imagine your senses enthralled as you wind your way through the heart of the Pride Fest—a whirlwind tour of color, flavor, and captivating allure. It’s more than just a festival; it’s a banquet of experiences meticulously crafted just for you! The bars, with their artful rainbow mixology and effervescent charm, are a solitaire among the many gems at Pride Fest. Every sip of those piquant concoctions sends a reel of euphoria down your soul, acting as the perfect preamble to the carnival of taste that is yet to come. 

As for the food — oh, the food! The scent alone, thick and delicious, wafting through the air, is transporting. From the sizzling embers of the barbecue pits to the heavenly fusion of spices from the food trucks, there’s an endless carousel of culinary delight to spin your taste buds into a frenzy. A veritable smorgasbord spanning across cultures and cuisines, pandering to the epicurean in each one of us. Whether you’re a vegan, food-allergic, or a bona fide carnivore, the vendors accommodate everyone with flair and gusto. 

Speaking of vendors, they form the vibrant veins of this joyous celebration. Offering more than just merchandise, they share fragments of their unique journeys through their crafts. Be it hand-knit Pride flags, eccentric festival attire, artisan crafts, or even DIY kits to unleash your creativity— each stall is a treasure trove of unique finds. Engaging with these vendors doesn’t just provide a trinket to keep as a memory, it supports the livelihoods and dreams of queer artisans and allies alike. 

Hayley Kiyoko at Outloud Music Festival (Photo Credit: Outloud: Raising Voices/Twitch) 

LQBTQ+ In The Arts

So, let’s take a joyous dive, shall we? Let’s immerse ourselves in the empowering optics of the thriving LGBTQ+ representation in the arts, music, and festival scene. From the rainbow-emblazoned stages of music festivals, to the hallowed halls of art exhibitions, to the beautifully chaotic kaleidoscope of Pride festivities—each arena is a testament to the vital role and incredible influence of the LGBTQ+ community. 

  • Music Festivals – Our stages have become platforms. Platforms for LGBTQ+ artists to share their talents, stories, and voices with the masses. Think of artists like Sam Smith, Janelle Monae, or the unabashedly flamboyant and fabulous Queen of Pop, Lady Gaga, all proudly out and producing magical music that resonates with so many of us irrespective of our gender identities or sexual orientations.

  • Art Galleries – These spaces, traditionally cloistered and exclusive, are opening their doors wider for LGBTQ+ artists and spectators alike. Internationally recognized figures like David Hockney, Keith Haring, and Catherine Opie are redefining the narrative with their bold and unfiltered presentation of LGBTQ+ experiences.

  • Pride Festivals – And of course, our beloved Prides, a global anthology of love and acceptance. From New York’s Stonewall 50 – WorldPride NYC 2019 to São Paulo’s record-breaking pride parade, it is in these gatherings we cement our shared history, celebrate our diversity and carry forward our unstoppable march towards equality and acceptance. 

Witnessing the vibrancy, the solidarity, the unapologetic proclamation of identity at these events, who could doubt the importance, the necessity, of LGBTQ+ representation in the arts, music and festival scene? We need it to remind us – the love that binds this diverse community, our shared experiences, our struggles and our triumphs, they are worth being celebrated. Loudly. Outloudly.

– Cory Watson

Instagram: @thecorywatson 

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