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lgbtq+ outside lands

A truly inclusive music & arts festival.

Written by: Kylie Condon I August 13, 2018


Every year, San Francisco’s infamous Golden Gate Park hosts one of the country’s largest music and arts festivals.  Outside Lands stands apart from other festivals for a number of reasons, but this year perhaps the biggest one being its extreme inclusivity of the LGBTQ+ community.  Between the performers, the fans, and the vendors, Outside Lands 2018 was one of San Francisco’s most gay-friendly summer events.


This year’s lineup had one of the highest numbers of LGBTQ+ identifying performers at a music festival.  There were far too many diverse performances to highlight, but I’ve included some favorites:


Perfume Genius, an openly gay sentimental glam rocker, kicked off the festival strong Friday afternoon.  Known for exploring sexuality in his powerful lyrics, Perfume Genius wowed the audience with a memorable performance full of swaying dance moves and haunting vocals.


A crowd favorite was the incomparable Janelle Monáe.  In the past year, she’s become a bit of a queer icon with her new album revealing some truths about herself and “how she likes to love” as she puts it.  Despite starting her set a bit late due to food poisoning, Monáe quickly recovered and put on a flawless set that was impressive for anyone (even without food poisoning). 


Outside Lands is of course more than just a music festival with an impressive line-up of comedy talent as well.  On Saturday, audiences were treated to three shows with Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness.  Technically only one of those shows was Jonathan’s, but he stole the others with his brief appearances.  Van Ness left the audience in stitches as per usual with his lovable, yet poignantly hilarious observations.  Other standout queer performers included Lucy Dacus, LP, Tash Sultana, The Internet, and a comedy set by Shangela.



Queer fans showed up in droves for the festival.  And not just from San Francisco either!  Attendees seemed to come from all over.  While waiting for Carly Rae Jepsen to perform, I chatted with a gay couple from England.  The two had traveled all the way to San Francisco just to attend the festival.  Being big music fans, they heard the festival was a good time and figured since it takes place in SF, the festival must be somewhat gay.  I then asked them if they still felt the festival was “somewhat gay.”   The two looked around at the largely queer crowd waiting for Jepsen and answered, “No.  It’s extremely gay.”  This sentiment rang true throughout the entire weekend with many in attendance feeling free to bare their rainbow-clad outfits proudly and dance with whomever they so pleased. 



Usually good food is hard to come by at a music festival, but that was definitely not the case at Outside Lands!  Showcasing local food vendors from all over the Bay Area, Outside Lands really allows visitors to get a taste of the city without even having to leave the festival grounds.  Some notable vendors that stood out in support of the LGBTQ+ community were FOB Kitchen, Proposition Chicken, and Straw.  A married lesbian couple, Janice and Brandi Dulce, runs FOB Kitchen.  The two were serving up some delicious Stir-Fried Veggie Glass Noodles all weekend.  Proposition Chicken and Straw, both owned by Ari Feingold, were also present at Outside Lands this year.  Both restaurants have donated thousands of dollars to LGBTQ+ organizations including the SF LGBT Center, which is located a block from Proposition Chicken.  Their lines were long all weekend at the festival, but well worth the wait.  It was encouraging to see so many LGBTQ+ owned and operated vendors.


Taking place in a city that’s so accepting, it’s no wonder Outside Lands strives to share that same openness.  It’s also reassuring to see the programmers actively choosing to book performers and vendors that are influential in our community.  I think it’s safe to say that this year’s Outside Lands was one of the gayest music festivals of the year.  Here’s to hoping next year is even gayer!


**To follow Kylie and see more Outside Lands photos, find her on Instagram @lezexploreinsta

(Performer photos courtesy of Outside Lands by

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