Kentucky based band, GRLwood releases new music, “I Hate My Mom”

On Friday, June 28, GRLwood released “I Hate My Mom,” an angsty song about hating life as a teenager. Bandmates Karen Ledford and Rej Forester are natives of the Bluegrass and Queer Kentucky caught up with them today.

Q: Where are y’all you from?

A: Rae is from Louisville, and Karen is from Hardin County. 

Q: How has being in Kentucky influenced your music and persona?

A: We could say one million things as a response to this question. Kentucky has a very strong southern culture aspect to it, and it molds everything about how we communicate especially being queer in the Bible belt.  Our music is a direct reflection of our experiences growing up in this area, so I would say Kentucky influences everything for GRLwood.

Q: When and how did your band start? And has it been a struggle at all?

A: As a two-piece, we began in August 2017. Working with somebody as close as we work with each other has its ups and downs, however it has been a great pleasure creating together. We get along really well and make one hell of a team.

Q: How do you feel about performing at Kentuckiana Pride?

A: Performing at pride was very surreal. We feel very honored to be a part of such an incredible opportunity. That was the first pride either of us had seen people moshing, so we felt very well received and supported. We love queer Louisville.

Q: How are you furthering the Queer community?

A: This is a very complex question. Our music is a diary of growing up in Kentucky as queer persons and that gives platform for other people to relate and create discussion, which in turn creates community. 

Q:What is your favorite part about what you do?

A: Playing music with eachother and connecting with people in the crowd. But mostly being best friends and working together. 

Q: What does the word queer mean to you?

A: It is a safe all encompassing term which allows us our queer identities and maintains privacy. 

Q: What does the word feminist mean to you?

A: A person who believes in the equality of all people regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, class and disability. 

Q: What is the importance of Queer artists?

A: Representation really really really matters. People need to know they aren’t alone. 

Q: Who/what Influenced your work?

A: Our experience of growing up in this climate in Kentucky influences everything we do. Everything around us is constantly influencing us. Same for you. 

Q: What is your biggest goal as artists?

A: To be accessible to everyone. And to enjoy it.

Smedley Yeiser to host Pride Riot in Western Kentucky, honor OUT Paducah

PADUCAH – Many small rural communities are creating safe spaces and pride events for their communities. Western Kentucky activists with OUT Paducah are leading this movement and were asked to be the guest of honor for a large Pride event.

On June 29, Smedley Yeiser is hosting Pride Riot, a one night only pop-up venue to honor 50 years of pride since the Stonewall riots. OUT Paducah is the guest of honor for the event.

It’s also to celebrate where Paducah is now, where it’s been, and where it’s going with LGBTQ+ Pride, said Pride Riot event coordinator Jeremy Byassee. 

“With political, religious and moral debates, especially here in the Bible Belt, I don’t think there’s any other way to get fairness and equality without coming together despite those issues with diversity,” Byassee said. “I genuinely feel everyone is seeking support from one another with that common goal of tolerance and freedom.”

The mission of OUT Paducah is to provide an accepting environment to enhance the personal growth of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth in McCracken County. OUT Paducah advocates for community awareness and acceptance of young people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. 

Through outreach, OUT Paducah, service providers learn about and increase their sensitivity to the needs of sexual minority youth. OUT Paducah provides LGBTQ youth with positive role models. It promotes their self-esteem and the integration of these youth into the larger community. OUT Paducah assists families with resources and referrals.

The venue for Pride Riot, Smedley Yeiser+Juniper Room, is owned by very supportive and wonderful straight allies, Byassee said.

“There will be a stage set up with 12 various entertainers, plus me, your host,” he said.

There will be Pride Drag King and Queen of Southern Illinois, and the rest are all local queens, belly dancers, a few burlesque artists and a fire breathing act!

“My event, PRIDE RIOT, has had very little backlash,” Byassee said. “And it doesn’t faze me a bit. It’s beyond humbling for me to have an outweighing amount of support. When I was 21, I know things would have been a lot different if I could go to space to see or maybe even perform in a drag show”

After show party will include dancing and karaoke! The show cover is $10 and the entire event is for 21 and over.

Big Sandy LGBT+ Safe Zone to host Pride Picnic in Floyd County

PRESTONSBURG — The Big Sandy LGBT+ Safe Zone, Inc. is hosting a Pride Picnic on Monday, June 24th. The event will be held at the Dewey Dam Spillway at Shelter #4.  

Kyle May, president and founder of BSSZ, said the picnic came about because a community member suggested having a Pride Picnic so that the community could come together and have fun while getting to know the board members (leadership of the organization/those representing the area and community) and to network with one another.

“We know that socialization with other people who identify as LGBT+ or as an ally is important for people within the LGBT+ community, particularly those in rural communities, because of the strong feelings of loneliness and isolation experienced by people,” May said.

BSSZ will have balloons marking the shelter to help identify at which location we will be gathering.  

The picnic will begin around 6 p.m. and last until approximately 8 p.m.  BSSZ will be offering FREE pizza and other foods/nonalcoholic beverages.  

There will be games, activities, and plenty of time to socialize with each other.  The BSSZ Pride Picnic is a family-friendly event open to the general public, including, but not limited to, people who identify as LGBT+, friends and family of people who identify as LGBT+, and allies of the LGBT+ community.  

The Pride Picnic is important to have because it allows people in LGBT+ community to know that they are not alone, said May. It also emphasizes the fact that we belong in communities no matter where we live.

“I have noticed that LGBTQ+ acceptance has been evolving in Eastern Kentucky,” he said. “There are more LGBTQ+ resources making their way into the area and there are more people confidently and visibly supporting the LGBTQ+ community.”

Folks are more than welcome to bring sealed foods or supplies if you would like to contribute, however, it is not necessary.  For more information, please contact BSSZ at bigsandysafezone@gmail.com.

Kentuckiana Pride 2019 photos

Queer Kentucky would like to thank Josh Miller of IDEAS xLab for photographing Kentuckiana Pride this year. This was the largest Kentuckiana Pride event ever and we hope all of the prides around the state continue growing. About Josh Miller: Originally from Chattanooga, TN, Josh is the co-founder + CEO of IDEAS xLab – an …

Kentuckiana Pride 2019 photos Read More »

How you can help support Louisville’s homeless youth LGBTQ+ population? Hint: Drink up

By Brent Schanding During the month of June, Proof on Main at 21c Museum Hotel Louisville will donate all proceeds from the sale of its Sweet Evening Breeze mocktail to the Sweet Evening Breeze LGBTQ+ shelter, which is expected to open as early as this winter. Proof will also host a drag brunch at 11 a.m. on …

How you can help support Louisville’s homeless youth LGBTQ+ population? Hint: Drink up Read More »

Southern gendered language: it’s a thing y’all

By Sarah Gardiner “Thank ya, honey” “Anything else I can get for ya, doll?” Regional language has always been a main string of Southern culture’s DNA. Every place has their colloquialisms and particular ways of speaking, but there’s something about the south that invites a friendliness in conversation unmatched anywhere else. “There are no strangers …

Southern gendered language: it’s a thing y’all Read More »

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