Entertainment

Pride in the Bluegrass!

“From metro streets to Appalachian trails, these are our stories.”

Queer Kentucky is beyond happy to announce THIS many Pride celebrations throughout our state in 2019!

We love watching our community come together in different regions to lift their voices in LGBTQ+ pride. We will add more events as we learn about more events.

June 2

Owensboro Pride Picnic
English Park, Owensboro

June 9

NKY Pride

Goebel Park, Covington

June 14-15

Kentuckiana Pride

Big Four Lawn, Louisville

June 28-29

Lexington Pride Festival

Courthouse plaza, Lexington

August 24-25
Western Kentucky Pride Festival

Noble Park, Paducah

September 13-15

Kentucky Black Pride Festival

Lexington

Sept. 14

Shelbyville Pride

Clear Creek Park, Shelbyville

Sept. 21

Louisville Pride Festival

Bardstown Road, Louisville

Sept. 28

Mad City Pride

Downtown, Madisonville

Sept. 28

Mad City Pride

Downtown, Madisonville

October 12

Capital Pride KY

Old Capitol lawn, Frankfort

October 12

Pikeville Pride Celebration

Pikeville City Park, Pikeville

https://www.facebook.com/bgfairness/

Oct. 12

Elizabethtown Pride

Location TBA, Elizabethtown

Kentucky’s Gender inclusive apparel brand gives back

What is BLoFISH?

We are a clothing company based in Louisville, KY. Known for our amazingly soft fabrics, All 4 All message, being gender neutral, and our 10% giveback program. We were founded in 2014 and opened our first store in Louisville in 2016. We are still small, but have a solid online presence and have sold to 20 cites, all 50 states, and 7 countries.

What is your mission?

Our mission is to ensure everyone has the same opportunities in life. Whether that be in traditional economic opportunities, education, racial equality, gender equality, or anything else. We believe in our “All 4 All” mission. No matter one’s sex, race, religion, sexual orientation or abilities everyone should have the same opportunities centered around equality. The message is deeply ingrained into our company’s culture and customers, with 10% of every sale going directly to social justice issues.

How do you financially give back to communities? How do you give back differently than larger corporations?

We believe in the power of grassroots organizations, particularly those who are on the ground doing the non-profit work that has a direct visible impact on the communities they are located in. We do give to national organizations, but we prefer to give to causes that support the communities we know our money will make the most impact.

Our business model is revolutionary and much different than what corporations are doing now, particularly in our industry. To put it simply for every $100 in sales we donate $10 to organizations we believe have an impact on the world. While 10% may not sound like a lot, it is exponentially higher than most corporations. Effectively, we created the ultimate Public Benefit Corporation before it was even a thing. How can we do this? We treat our accounting as if the 10% never existed, we work 10% harder, keep lower inventory counts, don’t take (and never will take) crazy bonuses or salaries, and don’t (and never will) have multi-million dollar campuses costing even more millions to maintain.

Here are some numbers:

  • At $100k in sales, we donated $10k to organizations.
  • At $1 million in sales, we will donate $100k to organizations.
  • At $100 million in sales, we will donate $10 million to organizations.
  • As a $1 billion dollar company (knock on wood) we will donate $100 million to organizations.

To put that into comparison, a company in the same industry (and pays their top 6 positions $21 million dollars a year) did $3.8 billion last year. They haven’t released a charitable report online since 2016, but on it they show their foundation has only given on average $400K a year. With our model, alone in 2018 we would have give $380 million to charity. https://www.aeo-inc.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/AEO_CSR.pdf (page 9)

Another question we get often with this model and the look of our stores is “how expensive is it?” Our prices are in-line with all the major players, including Nike, American Eagle, Abercrombie, and less expensive than the likes of Lululemon and Bonobos while still using fabrics that are fantastic. I can’t tell you the amount of people who walk by and are surprised when they find out our prices despite the clean, expensive look of our stores.

Going a little off topic. I think one thing average Americans struggle with in terms to the wealthy in this country is just how big those numbers are. While it may seem like a company donating $400k a year, it’s all relative. Here’s what that looks like next to their 2018 profit.

$1,370,000,000

$400,000        

Try and type that top number in your phone calculator. Unless you turn it sideways it’s not even possible. That is 1,370 MILLIONS. No wonder we have a hard time comprehending just how rich the uber wealthy are.

How are your employees paid and how are you paid?

We are still a small company, but we’ve tried to build a culture here where we pay everyone a decent wage, but still work hard. Everyone we’ve brought on full-time has been paid the same, which makes for a cool work-place. Hopefully we can keep it up as we grow. One thing I really believe in is people taking responsibility for themselves, which includes taking as much time off as long as they can find someone to pick up on their responsibilities. It makes it tough being small, but so far we’ve been able to pull it off and should only get easier as we have more resources.

As for myself, I still haven’t taken a dime out of BLoFISH. Luckily I’ve been able to support myself enough in other ways. I don’t plan on taking anything out of BLoFISH so long as I see new products and expansion that needs to be done, which won’t be for a while. There are tons of designs and tons of people who haven’t been touched by BLoFISH, and until that’s done or we have enough resources I can’t see myself taking money out of the company.

What other communities would you like to reach out to?

We’ve hit on a lot of different communities, so there’s not one specific we feel like we need to reach out to. We obviously want to expand, and with that we will be able to copy some of the grassroots giving we’ve been able to do here in Louisville and extend our reach to other communities.

The LGBTQ+ community, the sexual assault awareness community, the trans community, the animal rescue community, human trafficking community, the veteran community, and many others have all been great to work with. It’s nice to be able to connect different types of people who may not otherwise meet. Many of these communities have goals that overlap, and it’s our job to not only give these communities the resources they need, but to connect them so there is an even bigger coalition to go forward and make changes the world needs, many of which aren’t that far out of reach or don’t require extreme resources.

Do you plan to bring your business to areas such as Appalachia, western Ky, etc.?

Yes. We want BLoFISH in as many places as possible, particularly in places that may not have the access to resources or support like many people here in Louisville have, and we know the power that one of our locations can have on a community. With that being said, we are limited in resources, and that’s where social media is amazing. We are able to reach people all over the country.

We recently did a podcast with a transgender veteran from Eastern Tennessee. He talked a lot about how he was surprised how many people were actually supportive of him when they found out about the transition, and while everyone was not supportive, many more than he thought were. So getting our message out in these places is so important to us, and until we can get the resources for physical locations we will do our best to reach out through social media.

What have some of the positive reactions been to your company? What have some of the negative reactions been?

The positive reactions have far overwhelmed the negative for sure. We’ve had people talk about how they wanted a place to feel welcomed, a place that is actually genuine, and some of the most emotional moments have taken place at our community events. The reaction to our products and fabrics have also been positive, which is important, because ultimately that’s the core and the reason we are able to give back so much. I would encourage people to check out our BLoFISH Speakeasy Podcast to hear some stories and see how we interact with the community.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-blofish-speakeasy/id1272938560?mt=2

As a company centered around social justice we’ve had our fair share of negative comments you might expect, but surprisingly we have had a little bit of push back from some people in the LBGTQ+ community saying our stuff isn’t gender neutral enough. Most of those people haven’t been in the store, but some are right we need to keep pushing boundaries. The key I have to balance is still making things accessible to everyone, while still being profitable on those products.  Being small is tough, and all the new designs are capital intensive, meaning we have to charge more for the products. Some of the same people complaining haven’t been in to test our more “fashion-oriented” designs so it makes it tough in this market to keep producing them. It’s still just my money so far, so we don’t have a multi-million dollar (or anywhere close) resource to tap in to. We’ve had a few people complain about price, but we try and stay in-line with the bigger brands like Nike, AE, and Gap. We will never be as cheap as somewhere like Aeropostale because of the quality of fabrics and products we have, but $46 for our joggers and $25 for hats is right in-line with the brands I mentioned. We have also had some people talk about our sizing system and how we display it, and it’s something we are looking into along with everything else, trying to be as accessible and inclusive as possible.

Why is gender neutral so important, and why does a white cis male care?

When I first started the company the idea of having a place where everyone could come in and buy what they wanted regardless of who they were seemed like a crazy idea (and to many still is today). I think gender neutral is the best way to describe what we are doing, but I’m not sure the adjective fits the way it should. I see what we are doing as label-less, we don’t care how you identify, we just think everyone should have the same opportunity to shop and wear awesome things without worrying about people looking down on them because they are in the wrong section or in the wrong class to buy things. In the past few years gender neutral has almost taken on a moniker of its own and people think it should look one way or another. I push against that, and think people should be able to buy and wear whatever they want, whether they identify as “gender neutral” or male or female or gender fluid, and that’s the perspective I design from.

As a white cis male I believe, and have since I can remember, a responsibility to step up and speak up for those who don’t have the same privileges as me. And that goes beyond being just a cis white male, into a cis white male who grew up with everything I needed. I didn’t have to struggle for a ride to baseball practice or worry about how I was going to get to school. I think we have a tendency to use labels as a way to build walls, and if everyone would look at each other in a sense of their privileges and access as opposed to their race and gender the world would be better for it. I will continue to stand up for all those who didn’t and don’t have the same opportunities I had, and am extremely lucky to have a platform and a business like BLoFISH to help spread that message.  

Who are YOU? What is Logan about?

I’m a crazy 31 year old person who is crazy enough to think it’s possible to create a new business model and flip the entire retail industry on its head while spreading a great message and making a REAL difference in the communities we are in.

What makes BLoFISH stand out among other retail companies in the nation?

You mean besides having better products, people, community, and business model? Not too much.

Louisville Ballet Dancer showcases diversity through the arts

Sanjay Saverimuttu, Louisville Photo by Sam English (Headshot for Choreographers Showcase 2019)  What does the word queer mean to you? How do you identify? Why? The word “queer” to me means expressing your gender or your sexuality in a manner that risks being disadvantaged by society. This world hasn’t been designed for our success, and yet …

Louisville Ballet Dancer showcases diversity through the arts Read More »

Adult Film Star Jack Hunter on his Queer Kentucky roots

To me, the word “queer” means weird, different, and misunderstood. I myself can identify with this idea because I often feel weird, different, or misunderstood. As a man who works in an industry that is dominated by the masculine archetype, but doesn’t always think and feel in this way, it can sometimes be difficult to relate with some of my peers. Especially those who do the job solely for the pay(the gay-for-pay for lack of a better term).

I’m originally from Louisville Kentucky, where weird isn’t really hard to find(if you know where to look). However growing up and going to a catholic grade school and then moving out to the suburbs of Jeffersontown it wasn’t until after high school that I really got to embrace my queer nature.

Unfortunately many of us don’t get to express our queer nature until we’ve grown in age and maturity, and some don’t express it at all because society doesn’t always nurture our queer behaviors. It’s what makes us weird that is also what makes being human so great and we should all embrace our queer nature as long as it’s not hurting anyone!

In the lgbtq community, queer people still face the scrutiny that mainstream society has pushed on us with its toxic masculinity. I think we all need to be a little more weird and a little more queer and shed the negative views that religion and society has built in our human race and start to build a better world for us all!

In my own way I’m trying to break some of those barriers in my own world. I’ve recently started doing drag and I’m trying to rock the boat and shake things up with a new project to stir the pot of the gay porn world! Stay tuned!

Manhattan visits Kentucky, reflects on southern roots

Queer? To be completely honest, the meaning of the word Queer has been a bit of a conundrum. The definition, personally, changes daily.

When I was initially introduced to the concept of what I think Queer is today, which I think is something quite radical, I didn’t think I was radical enough. What I’ve come to associate queerness with are people who don’t have rigid, black and white definitions of their sexuality and gender.

That’s exactly where I find myself, in a grey area. I prefer humans who identify as men, that’s not to say I’ve never felt attracted to someone who identifies as a woman, sexually. If I have to tick a gender box, I would tick male. However, I don’t subscribe to the stereotypical ideas of what society would consider to masculine. I don’t identify as female, but I certainly am effeminate. For me, this is my queerness.

I would say these are ideas and notions I’ve come to recently. I grew up in Jackson, Mississippi where the culture is very binary. Gay vs Straight – Man, Woman. I’ve lived in New York for ten years, I think this has changed slightly back home.

However, when I was coming of age I didn’t have any references for anything beyond the stereotypes. It was a constant struggle to find where I fit in.

After my recent visit to Kentucky, I’m noticing a change in the south. I think with dawn of social media more people in rural and conservative areas have access to representation and like minded individuals that one may not have known existed. It’s allowed LGBTQIA+ community to form a more global network which is beautiful. Especially for young people – if I had the knowledge that people like me existed in the world when I was coming of age, or examples of people living their life beyond societies definition, everything could have been different.

It’s all so overwhelming, I wish that boxes and definitions and binaries didn’t exist. Can you imagine a world where people just exist freely as they are? No need to create subcultures and sub-subcultures and communities within communities for protection and identification?

I’m not sure I’ll ever see this problem solved as long as we’re human but if we’re aware it’s a start. What’s wild is it’s all just a human attempt to belong but in this attempt to belong we create new communities or scenes that become exclusionary.

The best example that comes to mind is high school, there are kids that don’t identify with the mainstream so they refuse to conform and choose to rebel. In their rebellion they join the goth scene or alt scene, now their rebellion has become about conforming with a new group of like minded individuals that reject a group of people that they feel rejected them.

As it relates to Queers specifically, this behaviour was for protection and safety, mental and physical. I think it’s important and healthy to respect the past, but we have to look towards the future and build on ideas that are actually inclusive.

Gay cis white men have gained a lot and move through the world with much more ease, what’s important now is to use that privilege support and uplift more marginalized members of our collective community.

Mitchell Martin on The Laramie Project and Queerness

My first experience with the word queer was that it meant weird. I remember driving home and my mom asked my friend how his day at school was. He sighed and said, “queer”, and then he explained to me that queer meant odd, or weird. Years later, I found out it was a gay slur, butwe’ve taken it back, I think. It does mean weird. I can’t tell you one person who would describe me as “normal”. I’m weird. I’m gay. I’m queer.

Louisville. Born and raised. I knew I was gay when I was in kindergarten. I had crushes on boys and I had a hard time relating to them, so most of my friends were girls. I learned quickly that being gay was looked down upon and I kept a part of myself locked in. That kind of shame plays on you, and you learn to live with secrets. I was always observing the subtleties with which people can hate. I remember watching HBO’s The Laramie Project in middle school which made an impact on my life that I’ll never forget. That was the first time for me that people weren’t censoring themselves on what they thought about homosexuals. It wasn’t taboo, or this fun, sly thing where people make jokes with a smirk. It was real issues, out in the open. I came out when I went to college in Illinois. I didn’t want to deal with coming out in high school. I knew most of their opinions, and I didn’t feel safe.

lar.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” I’ve been there. Its not easy. You’re not alone. Talk to a friend who doesn’t mind who you are.

I think being closeted for so many years taught me how to act “masc”, or like a traditional straight dude. Unfortunately, society’s norms on men is that we are emotionless, strong, or protectors. However I’ve always identified with traditional “feminine” stereotypes: I’m sensitive, empathetic, and very compassionate. So what happens when you have a young boy who feels these emotions that are considered “weak”? If they can’t cope, they overcompensate and become aggressive or indifferent. We’ve started calling that toxic masculinity, but its not a new idea–look at The Laramie Project: two young men in 1998 had such a problem with the fact that another man might actually have “feminine qualities” that they killed him. I make a point to be unapologetically me. I laugh when something is funny, and I’m not embarrassed to cry. I show strength in sensitivity. My hope is that young people, especially young men, will see that they don’t have to fit in this “man means strong, woman means weak” mentality that I definitely grew up with.

Cast line silo

I love the queer community. I think we are just trying to find ourselves in whatever 2018 is. I wonder what life would be like if we grew up without gender roles, and stereotypes. There are major problems with body image. I view myself as “gay fat”. I’m “gay fat” because I don’t have a six pack. That doesn’t make me fat–that just means I love pizza. I think it changes with TV and movies: until we start showcasing NORMAL looking people in roles where maybe they are made to be the love interest, we are still going to have this airbrushed view on what we should look like. Good luck with that.

I don’t party as much as my friends, and have been called, “the worst gay” on multiple occasions. I don’t really feel excluded from the mainstream gay culture … If I wanted to be included, I would (and do) insert myself. However, I’d like to meet more gays at not bars… and not apps.

I’m at my best when I’m in a rehearsal room working with others. Devising. Creating. I love to collaborate and come up with something that couldn’t have been made by just me. It’s different as an actor, and a director. I’m used to mostly acting, but as the director of The Laramie Project, I’ve done a lot of improvising. I come in with a plan, and then realize that we need to hit point A, B, C, and D before we can do what I need to. They key is being adaptable.

I’ve had so many teachers who taught me what its like to have a sense of humor. On the opposite end, I’ve had a lot of teachers teach me what it’s like to hate your job. I think that the greatest ability one can have is the ability to laugh at themselves. In the end, we have one life to live, so we might as well giggle our way through it.

Scroll to Top

SUBSCRIBE TO STAY UPDATED

Stay up to date with Queer Kentucky by subscribing to our newsletter!