Tolerance should be a prerequisite for musicians booked to promote queer visibility in Western Pennsylvania, but it’s not always a given.
Last year’s Pride in the Street originally featured Iggy Azalea, who had drawn criticism for homophobic and racist statements. But thankfully, Pride’s organizer, the Delta Foundation, gave in to public outcry and replaced the Aussie “rapper” with Nick Jonas, who had been on the cover of Out magazine. But some felt this selection reinforced the perception that the Delta Foundation caters to affluent, white gay men, while leaving others, including transpeople and people of color, out of the representation equation.
That’s where Kesha and Angel Haze come in. Kesha, a bisexual intergalactic superstar, has spoken at length about loving “the spirit that exudes from that other person you’re with,” rather than just men or women. And Angel Haze — a pansexual, agender rapper who identifies as African American, Creole, Cherokee and Blackfoot Indian — creates music so feminist and darkly cathartic, it’s almost unbelievable a major label ever signed them.
This power coupling of Kesha and Angel Haze is astounding, not just because of their queerness or messages of acceptance and fighting back, but also because they’ve both made surviving sexual abuse a major part of their public conversations.
LGBT individuals are even more likely than their straight counterparts to experience sexual violence, and this violence is deeply stigmatized and often rendered invisible. Which makes it all the more awesome that two queer sexual-abuse survivors are being invited to bring Pittsburgh together in love and respect.
Sure, it’s a coy PR move to follow up last year’s national headline-making fiasco. But it’s also a well-intentioned and well-executed move that speaks to shifting consciousness within our Pittsburgh community and beyond. And that’s progress to be proud of.