Pride at pitchfork

A look inside the festival's LGBTQ+ inclusivity.

Written by: Kylie Condon I July 23, 2018

Chicago is known for it’s many summer festivals.  The weather is finally nice out so Chicagoans and visitors alike love taking advantage of being outdoors.  So how does one choose which summer festivals are actually worthwhile?  While in Chicago, I decided to attend one of the city’s most popular summer events, Pitchfork Music Festival, to examine exactly how LGBTQ+ friendly it was.

The Performers

Pitchfork is known for booking more “alternative” talent as opposed to some of the more mainstream festivals such as Lollapalooza.  Based on the line-up alone, the fest was looking pretty LGBTQ+ inclusive.  And this year, it was all about the queer ladies.  Julien Baker, a 22-year-old southerner, showed off her chops for the audience with heartbreaking lyrics wise beyond her years.  Baker attracted a large crowd for such a small stage and showed off her singing as well as guitar skills.  Another highlight was R&B singer, Syd, whose smooth, sensual vocals could make anyone swoon.  Originally getting her start as part of Odd Future, Syd has branched out to create her own sound and swagger.  Her set at pitchfork also featured her band, The Internet, whose new album recently dropped.  One of the most popular, shoulder-to-shoulder, couldn’t move through the crowd performances belonged to Australian singer/songwriter Courtney Barnett.  The audience may have been tired from a long day of music, but Barnett’s dry lyrical wit and badass rocker vibes kept the crowd’s energy going through the evening.

The People

In addition to the performers, fans within the community were out and about at this year’s Pitchfork Music Festival.  Rainbow and gender fluid attire filled the festival.  When I asked a group of young gay men, “Why Pitchfork?” their answers were pretty unanimous.  They told me at Pitchfork you can come as you are and feel like you’re in a very nonjudgmental atmosphere.  Their words rang true as I noticed, the more fashion risks you seemed to take, the more praise you received.  A queer female couple said they’ve attended Pitchfork every year and were especially excited by this year’s programming which was full of LGBTQ+ identifying artists and allies.

The Partners

Pitchfork is of course mostly about the music, but the vendors and organizations they partner with should definitely not be overlooked.  A highlight was having Howard Brown on site at the R&R tent.  For those who are unfamiliar, Howard Brown Health is a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer organization based in Chicago, United States.  It was founded as a healthcare provider, and now provides health and social services in several locations in the Chicago area.  It’s encouraging to see this kind of focus on LGBTQ+ health from the programmers of the fest.

Overall, Pitchfork Music Festival appears to be extremely LGBTQ+ friendly and consciously makes an effort to make everyone feel included and welcome.  If you find yourself in Chicago next summer, I’d highly recommend attending.  Better yet, make a trip out to Chicago for the festival… It’s definitely worthwhile!

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