Music and arts festivals are such an intrinsic part of our culture. That's why the UK is known to have the best festivals going - and we're lucky to have so many to choose from. But as an LGBTQ+ person, I've never really felt that at home at a festival. Sure, I've got drunk on warm beers, fallen into mud piles without a care in the world and given myself tinnitus from standing right next to the speakers just like any other festival-lover. But I never actually found my festival until a few years ago.
For the last two years (pre-pandemic, of course), I've been to a lesser-known but by no means less awesome UK festival: Green Man. With Wales' beautiful and imposing Brecon Beacons as scenery, 20,000 people attend Green Man and it sells out every year. A few years ago, I took my girlfriend and as well as having the best time in what we've dubbed "the gay tent" (it's rainbow and plays ABBA bangers, I dare you to tell me that ain't a queer space), we felt so safe walking around holding hands and drunkenly snogging. There were SO many queer couples being openly cute and affectionate (yeah, of course we noticed them), and we weren't harassed or stared at once - which any queer person will know makes all the difference to your enjoyment of an event. And last month we received the best news ever - Green Man 2021 will be going ahead. Plus, there's still a few tickets left!
So what makes Green Man so queer-friendly, and more LGBTQ+ inclusive than others I've been to? First of all, it literally has an inclusivity policy. Green Man’s director Fiona Stewart believes all festivals should be inherently inclusive, and says, "Green Man is an inclusive welcoming environment attended by children, older people, women, men, LGBTQI+ people, people from different ethnic backgrounds and people with mental and physical disabilities."
This year's queer artists include Self Esteem, Liz Lawrence, Art School Girlfriend doing a DJ set, Big Joanie, Hannah Holland, and Loraine James.
Liz Lawrence will be gracing the mountains with her presence this year, playing for the first time tracks from her newest record, The Avalanche. At the start of summer 2020, Liz left London and moved back to her hometown in the West Midlands. She built a studio from scratch with her carpenter dad. It was during that period of upheaval and change, that she completed the album.
Rebecca Taylor aka Self Esteem made Prioritise Pleasure, her new and second record, during the pandemic. It takes a real deep dive into relationships and sex, with tracks about self sabotage, heartbreak, gendered violence and trauma. It'll be released towards the end of October, but for now fans will get to see her perform it in the Brecon Beacons. An honour, imo.
Loraine James, from Enfield in North London, also took advantage of the lockdown to work on her newest EP, Nothing for Hyperdub, and her third album Reflection for Hyperdub, which was made in the summer of 2020. Described as a "turbulent expression of inner-space, laid out in unflinching honesty, that offers gentle empathy and bitter-sweet hope, pared down and confident," it sees her "leaning further into pop music her own way and taking the listener through how a tumultous year felt for a young, Black queer woman and her acolytes in a world that has suddenly stopped moving."
Other incredible LGBTQ+ artists in previous years have included Marika Hackman, The Big Moon, Villages, Hand Habits, Anna Calvi, John Grant, Lucy Dacus, Snail Mail and Sacred Paws to name a few.
And it's not just the music. As well as queer bands and singer-songwriters, Green Man boasts an incredible line up of talks and comedy in the Babbling Tongues tent. It's on pretty much all day until 2am and so many of the performers are LGBTQ+ and tackle queer issues by sharing their experiences.
This year, Ash Kenzai will be joining Self Esteem at Talking Shop to record a live podcast episode.
So, if you're LGBTQ+ and looking for a cute, friendly festival where you can watch queer artists and feel safe in expressing your sexuality and gender, visit the Green Man website for more info on this year's festival - there are a few last minute tickets available.
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