Queer music fest aims to showcase local talent

  • by Elliot Owen
  • Wednesday September 12, 2012
Share this Post:

If you're looking for something to do this Saturday, September 15 in San Francisco, make plans to attend Bring Your Own Queer, a music and arts festival taking place at the Music Concourse between the DeYoung Museum and the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park between noon and 6 p.m.

Started in 2009 by Rebeka Rodriguez, program director at Intersection for the Arts, BYOQ is free and will showcase local queer performers and artists for a crowd that has grown exponentially each year. The lineup consists of many of San Francisco's well-known performers including Edaj, who was selected as one of this year's SF Pride Parade community grand marshals, DJs Guy Ruben and Steve Fabus, Darling Gunsel, Vogue and Tone, La Chica Boom, and more.

"The idea is to celebrate local queer artists and to support art within San Francisco," Rodriguez said, "to celebrate the work that we do so it's not just happening in June but all year long. There's is so much money in San Francisco �" we should have free arts festivals. It should be the norm instead of the exception."

BYOQ's first year was funded primarily by Rodriguez's credit cards, community sponsorships, and donations. Each year thereafter, grant money has been secured from organizations like the Horizons Foundation and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Operating from a budget of approximately $20,000 this year, BYOQ is expecting upwards of around 750 people at the Music Concourse at any given time.

The festival is not only based on the premise of accessible art and entertainment for everyone, but also on unity within the queer community. Oftentimes, Rodriguez said, queer men and women party separately at different locations, which is understandable but can become too exclusive.

"Can't we all mix it up with all kinds of homos and not have to worry if it's your set or my set and everyone can feel comfortable?" Rodriguez said. "The festival doesn't aim to be everything to everyone but it at least provides a space for some overlap to happen."

Xandra Ibarra of La Chica Boom, who has been performing at BYOQ since the first year, echoed the point.

"For me, the best part about BYOQ is that it breaks the format of attending gay and lesbian bars," Ibarra said. "It attempts to bring everyone out into a public space inhabited by straight tourist families. [The Music Concourse] becomes a space for moving your feet chaotically and in beat with people from all over the city to electronica, house, and several different local queer bands."

Jocquese Whitfield of Vogue and Tone attended BYOQ for the first time last year and found the music to be "awesome." Through word-of-mouth his name landed among those asked to perform this year.

"I said, 'Of course!,'" Whitfield remembers. "I identify myself as queer and I think the festival is a good way to bring all queers together to socialize and network. It's a good place to meet and be proud of who you are as an individual and in belonging to the queer community."

In addition to the performances, attendees can partake in a myriad of fun, useful and perhaps odd activities. A health information area will be set up with interactive ways to bring attention to mental and physical health organizations that cater to the queer community. A fashion and jewelry display curated by vintage apparel company Stone Poney will be present in addition to a "glamorization station," whereby festivalgoers can get "glamorized."

For bicycle riders, a bike repair and education booth will provide quick fixes and tips for a more streamlined riding experience. The festival will not be providing food or drinks but, Rodriguez said, that will allow for people to bring their own picnics, camp out all day, and stay within their means.

Prior to the festival's commencement, a BYOQ group bike ride organized by Queers for Gears will begin at 17th and Castro at 10 a.m. and end at Golden Gate Park's Music Concourse. BYOQ's after-party will be located at the Upper Haight's Milk bar from 6 to 10 p.m.

To donate to BYOQ, visit http://byoq.org/ or send check to: BYOQ, c/o Intersection for the Arts, 925 Mission Street, Suite 109, San Francisco, CA 94103. All donations are tax deductible.