Live music is back and Exotic Fruits is kicking it off by showing queer artists some love.
The first-ever Exotic Fruits Festival ushered in the return of live music by way of curating
"a lineup of unique BIPOC, LBGTQIA+ and Femme artists for a day of music, conversation, and community activism."
Exotic Fruits is described as a one-day annual benefit festival that shines a light on outstanding nonprofit organizations. This year, 3 organizations were highlighted: Project Q, The Boyle Heights Arts Conservatory, and the Feminist Center for Creative Work. Hosted by Tolliver and Jenell Raye Randall, the hybrid online and live event included a carefully crafted lineup included a variety of up and coming acts like V.C.R, Harriet Brown, and Def Sound, while DJs kept the vibe going in-between both the live and pre-recorded performances.
Photos by Fanny Chu (Pictured left to right - Annabelle Maginnis, Def Sound, Zhao)
Held at Standard Vision Studios, Exotic Fruits is the first in-person live music event I’ve been able to get to in this “new normal” we all claim to be adjusting to. Live music was the thing that made LA so special to all of us, so to be without it for over a year, only to kickoff this new chapter of live entertainment by taking time to celebrate black and brown queer artists was something I didn’t even know I needed. PRIDE month alone comes with a whirlwind of emotions; there are triggers, sadness, memories of shrinking we’d rather forget, and companies trading rainbows for actual marketing strategies for 30-days and feel as though they’ve made a difference.
But there’s also room for joy, triumph, celebration and a sense of peace that comes with learning to love yourself and reclaiming all the things that we somehow told ourselves we weren’t worthy of. As the night drew to a close with a drag show, the lovely and multitalented artist and activist Miss Barbie-Q left the crowd with some powerful words to drive the night home.
“Every year we get a chance to reclaim our courage,” they said.
Every year we reclaim a different part of what it means to be free. What it means to have resilience, what it means to honor our ancestors who came before us, and understand freedom does not come without a cost.”
Queer people of color shouldn’t have to beg to be included or to have their talents recognized. Exotic Fruits serves as a reminder that black and brown queer people deserve to be celebrated every month (hell, every day) not just June when it’s trendy and profitable to be inclusive.
“Put your money where your mouth is honey, and not just celebrating diversity, but working to be inclusive ourselves,” quoted Miss Barbie-Q. “Understand your privilege, and make space for others not like you.”
May we continue to create space and give flowers to queer black and brown artists of color every day of the year.
Learn More about the 2021 Highlighted Non-Profits:
ProjectQ Community Center is a non-profit organization that provides safe space for LGBTQIA+ youth. At the Community Center, LGBTQIA+ folx with housing insecurities can receive free mentorship classes and workshops, along with free gender-affirming haircuts. Located in Chinatown, Los Angeles.
(quoted from BHAC mission statement) — BHAC advocates for the development of a new framework toward diversity in the creative arts, media, and technology fields—one that is socially and economically inclusive, and accurately reflects the City of Los Angeles in terms of ethnicity, gender, and age. The most effective way to do this, we understand, is by dismantling the many barriers to equal opportunities in the arts and creative industries, so that they, as well as those interested in pursuing such careers therein, can truly grow and thrive.
Feminist Center for Creative Work cultivates L.A.’s feminist creative communities and practices.
Article by @bndlp