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Arts

Don't Call it Jazz Presents "LGBTQ Jazz"

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SHEA DIAMOND
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I AM AMERICA

In what has become a young tradition for Don't Call it Jazz, we will be checking out incredible LGBTQ musicians from various eras and corners of the jazz landscape in honor of Pride Month.
We’ve seen so much progress for LGBTQ citizens, and yet we’ve also seen so much hate, disinformation, and cruelty as well. The progress should be celebrated, yet in the context of basic rights for our fellow human beings, the bar that we’re clearing as a society is one lies on the floor. It’s a pathetic indictment on our society and politics that the lives, goals, and pursuits of LGBTQ folk are being constantly threatened by a barrage of idiotic and barbaric laws and bad faith rhetoric. It’s such a simple concept that kindergartners understand it: humans are all equally worthy of respect, agency, and basic rights. Any language that goes against this most basic principle should be condemned in the strongest language, along with those who propagate it. There are no half measures here, humanity is humane, and basic decency shouldn’t be contingent on who folks are, who they love, and how they identify themselves.

The jazz world has a lot to answer for in this respect. Jazz culture continues to struggle with misogyny, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and hetero normative in groups that have hindered our collective creative and artistic potential. Jazz has a shameful track record in this regard, one that we share with the culture at large. Despite the hate and ignorance, jazz’s history is rich with brilliant LGBTQ performers, composers, and artists. Many in the past were closeted, some were known to be queer within the arts scene, but were forced by record labels to play straight for the masses. Many of the songs we will hear are by contemporary musicians. All in all though, jazz and our society at large, benefits greatly from extending freedom and full citizenship to all groups, especially those who have been historically marginalized. Everyone benefits from diversity. It’s so simple to understand, we all just have to be as nice and smart as 5 year olds to make it happen.