As we reach the end of Pride Month—celebrated each June—we continue to honor the accomplishments and civil rights struggles of our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI+) friends, family members and neighbors. From Pride parades, to picnics, parties, workshops and concerts, we celebrate the LGBTQI+ community’s rights to live their true selves and love freely. There is still a long way to go to combat the injustice and oppression that this community faces. We believe the power of free, live music can help us get there—fostering inclusive communities and welcoming gathering places for people to honor differences and celebrate our shared humanity. Across the Levitt network Levitt stages have served as the center of colorful celebrations that do just that. Read on to learn more about recent Pride celebrations with Levitt partners and grantees.
Last month, the National Conference for Community & Justice of Greater Dayton (NCCJ) presented Pride Rocks at Levitt Pavilion Dayton. This free community event spread awareness of suicide prevention and ways people can access valuable local community services and resources. Featured LGBTQI+ musicians included Manic Pixie Dream, indie guitarist/songwriter Kyleen Downes and multi-genre EDM DJ KimL. Nearly 400 community members came out to the event to paint Pride-themed rocks with suicide prevention messaging, partake in educational mental health programming and enjoy LGBTQI+ musicians. Audience member Melinda Mimi White wrote on Facebook: “What a wonderful event to create awareness about mental health awareness and LGBTQ+ community.” Beyond the free Levitt concert season, Levitt stages provide platforms for strengthening the community and through events like this, making everyone feel welcomed and valued.
On June 18th, Levitt at the Falls in Sioux Falls, S.D., took part in the city’s Pride activities organized by Sioux Falls Pride, featuring country singer Brody Ray. In his 2018 audition for America’s Got Talent, Ray expressed his struggles as a trans man and moved the judges and audience with his impressive performance. Since then, Ray has become a frequent speaker, educator and advocate for the LGBTQI+ community and has traveled across the U.S. and Canada to perform at some of the nation’s largest Pride festivals. In partnership with Sioux Falls Pride, Levitt at the Falls hosted an Inclusive Yoga program, encouraging people to re-connect with their body through movement and hip-hop music. The instructor of the event, Tray Mendez, of Element Yoga, is a queer person in the binary wellness industry and hopes to inspire the LGBTQI+ community to practice self-care through sharing knowledge of yoga and healing.
Beyond free Levitt concerts, Levitt venues and Levitt AMP sites have been celebrating Pride Month across their social media platforms. Levitt Pavilion Denver, Levitt Pavilion Los Angeles and Marion Cultural Alliance (the nonprofit behind the Levitt AMP Ocala Music Series) changed their logos on social media to reflect the Pride theme, in honor of the LGBTQI+ community. Levitt Pavilion Los Angeles also created an employee highlight post on its Instagram page featuring its Executive Director Allison Keating, who identifies as part of the LGBTQI+ community. Levitt Pavilion Denver designed limited edition Pride Month stickers, available for free onsite to audiences throughout the month.
Through free, live music, Levitt partners and grantees are showcasing the power of the arts to bring people together of all backgrounds, not only in June, but throughout the entire year. The Levitt Foundation is proud to celebrate Pride Month and the contributions of LGBTQI+ musicians throughout the country. Now and every month, we are committed to equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI), recognizing these values as essential to realizing the Levitt mission. Here’s to building safe and inclusive places where all are welcome to live, love and dance freely!