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In an unfortunate age where nazis and white supremacists exist, let alone feel the need to hold rallies, the pushback to support and shine the spotlight on marginalized communities needs to be stronger than ever.
Folk Fights Back, a national group of musicians that started throwing benefit concerts for marginalized communities after the 2016 election, reached out to Boston musician Kellen Zakula to organize the event.
“I think queer/trans folk have such a unique perspective on the world we live in. Their art and stories are not valued enough, and LGBTQ youth — specifically trans folk and qtPOC — face all kinds of challenges that the general population does not see or understand,” Zakula explains. “I think the current administration places a spotlight on the challenges they have faced for many years but it’s important to keep in mind they have been fighting this battle for forever. I want to try to mobilize folks around me to provide some support for these communities.”
The styles of the benefit’s performers range from Oompa’s slam poetry to Evan Greer’s self-described “riot folk,” while both Anjimile and Mark Lipman toe the line of acoustic alternative. Headliner Melissa Ferrick remains the veteran of the group, with 17 albums and a 25-year career to her name.
“She’s been around as an openly gay woman for so long, and has so much experience and wonderful music,” Zakula says of Ferrick. “I was blown away when she agreed to play. Those voices — queer and trans people, especially those of color, are so often ignored, overlooked, and simply not given the platform that others are. It was important to me to to seek these incredibly talented people out.”
While past benefits from Folk Fights Back have honed in on women’s rights and immigrants’ rights, tonight’s show arrives just a few weeks after the “transgender ban” on United States military service, highlighting precisely why these events are vital.
“The LGBTQ community owes so much to queer and trans folk of color,” Zakula adds. “They were the spark for the LGBTQ civil rights revolution. They take on the emotional labor of opening people’s eyes to how the world truly functions. And yet, we seem to have forgotten our debt to them. I’d love for people to leave this show thinking about why we/they don’t already know these incredibly talented artists, as well as trying to find ways to support LGBTQ youth with their wallets and time. We need these voices, and we need to support the important work they have done for so long and continue to do.”