BYOQ Returns to San Francisco This Weekend
Sometimes all it takes to bring people together is a good party–at least, that's what Rebeka Rodriguez, founder of Bring Your Own Queer (BYOQ) is banking on. BYOQ is described as a free daytime music, arts and performance festival, but along with all of the good vibes, the festival has a mission to get different people and communities together. Held in the Golden Gate Park Music Concourse on Oct. 23 from 12 p.m. - 6 p.m., BYOQ features tons of queer artists and musicians, including La Chica Boom, Honey Soundsystem and Hard French. Rodriguez describes what attendees can expect this year and how the festival was created.
What is your inspiration was behind the festival?
I was in Austin a few years ago at an event called Gay by Gay Gay, an offshoot/alternative to SXSW. There were all kinds of homos having a good time, listening to music. I was inspired by this music festival where people of all different genders were mixing it up. I wanted to create a music festival where I could dance in the sun alongside my friends; the San Francisco queer scene is really segregated along gender lines. Creating this festival also provided an opportunity for community organizing.
Where did the name Bring Your Own Queer come from?
In organizing the first festival in 2009, I worked with a small but dedicated group of my smarty pants creative friends. BYOQ’s organizers are arts administrators, writers, filmmakers, artists, social justice organizers, and cultural activists. We met on a regular basis to work out logistics and plan the event; at one of our first few meetings we were discussing the name among other logistics. Querido Galdo (queridomundo.com) an amazing designer, came up with the name.
Whats new and different this year at BYOQ?
I think the intention and spirit remains the same. The biggest difference between the first festival and this one, is that the first year, I personally funded most of the 2009 festival. This year, we applied for fiscal sponsorship from Intersection for the Arts, which allows us to fundraise and accept tax deductible donations (byoq.org/support). Supporting artists in the queer community is a priority and we are excited to say that this year we are able to pay the artists. We think its important to value the labor of artists and cultural workers by compensating them for their energy, time, and talent. At a time when the arts are massively underfunded and chronically undervalued, this project aims to assert the importance of creative expression as a vital component of healthy, whole communities.
How else is the festival funded and how are musicians or artists chosen for the festival?
This year the festival is funded by grants from the Horizon's foundation (horizonsfoundation.org) and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, (thesisters.org), we held a fundraiser at the Lexington Bar (lexingtonclub.com) and most importantly, we are funded by individual donations from supporters. I curate the artists for the festival. The artists we present include musicians, djs, performance artists and burlesque dancers providing critical cultural intervention and representing an array of queer identities.
Could you talk a bit about the importance of community for this event?
The arts have a unique ability to bring people together and illuminate social issues. A festival like this can create community and its incredibly important to nourish and sustain these kinds of projects. BYOQ celebrates diversity, inspires and promotes collaboration and community building within and across Bay Area communities and beyond. We hope the event will be a catalyst for conversations across disciplines and organizations.