Black History, Queer Future: University of Louisville students organize queer Hip Hop showcase

Unhinged: Black History, Queer Future. It was big, it was bold, and it was unapologetically Black.

The University of Louisville’s student-run organization for queer students of Color, Shades, hosted its first event: a concert and a panel showcasing regional queer Hip Hop artists in celebration of Black History Month.

The event brought together artists from the greater Louisville, Kentucky area, as well as Chicago, Illinois in order to shed light on the prominence of queer people in Hip Hop, and the importance of Black history in cultivating such platforms.

Artists performing at the concert included Roy Kinsey, SCZ, Banjee Report, and Sasha Renee, and catering was provided by Black-owned businesses such as Boss Hog’s BBQ. It was important to ensure that all aspects of the creative process included merchants of color, due to the recurring white washing of events hosted during Black History month.

Unhinged: Black History, Queer Future explored issues that musicians often face when trying to exist at the intersection of being both Black and queer, as well as how difficult it is to achieve notoriety as a musician.

A common thread highlighted by the musicians during the performances was the inclusion current events and the issues that People of Color face in every-day America. Sasha Renee showcased her song “Modern Day Emmett Tills,” the lyrics of which included the narration of three Black men killed by police brutality. Banjee Report included music used in Black queer ballrooms and showcased the importance of having those spaces for youth. Roy Kinsey rapped about the intersection of being Black, male, and a gay rapper, and SCZ’s DJ set included tracks that delved into body positivity and gender ambiguity and fluidity. This segment of the event worked to dismantle false notions that claim Hip Hop, POC, and queer identities cannot intersect.

Immediately following the concert, the artists spoke on a panel and gave insight into the importance of queer Black icons such Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and Bayard Rustin and the roles they played in history, highlighting their intersecting identities as People of Color and queer.

Student-run events like Unhinged: Black History, Queer Future, accomplish what much of the media does not: recognizing, celebrating, and amplifying the voices and contributions of Queer People of Color. Queer People of Color have always had a central role in social movements and in the entertainment industry, but their work is often discredited or swept under the rug. Unhinged: Black History, Queer Future, organized by and for QPOC, honored the work of these past leaders, and celebrated modern QPOC artists and leaders.

-Aisha Bibbs, GLAAD Campus Ambassador, University of Louisville

GLAAD Campus Ambassadors are a volunteer network of LGBTQ and ally college and university students who work with GLAAD and within their local communities to build an LGBTQ movement to accelerate acceptance and end hate and discrimination.

If you would like to learn more about the GLAAD Campus Ambassador Program, please contact Clare Kenny— GLAAD Youth Engagement Strategist.