Finding a queer person at a music festival is just about the world’s easiest game of "I Spy." Subtlety by any definition of the word is nearly nonexistent within Firefly’s hallowed grounds, and the LGBTQ community doesn’t need to wait until Sunday’s official Pride Parade to embody that in full force.
Finding festival attendees open to talking about their queerness — especially as a reporter also visibly in the community — wasn’t exactly a Herculean task. Many sported Pride flags and other rainbow-colored merchandise, both on their person and their campsites.
And some, like 21-year-old Ash Parker from Pennsylvania, came decked out in a red-and-black leather devil-esque outfit, complete with horns. They said they’ve gotten a lot of compliments on it — yet another contributing factor to the “very welcoming” vibes of the festival.
The booth full of Pride merchandise and resources run by local LGBTQ nonprofit CAMP Rehoboth near the festival’s south entrance didn’t hurt, either.
“Nothing exists in a vacuum,” said Matty Brown, communications manager for CAMP Rehoboth. “(If) you're going to a music festival, you're going for entertainment primarily, but you want to feel safe. You want to feel welcome.”
Representation was not just in the audience, though. Many of Firefly’s performers openly identify as members of the LGBTQ community, including headliners Halsey and Green Day — yes, all three of them.
“I love being able to see someone in the community … that reflects myself on stage,” said festival attendee Vanessa Cannon, a Pride flag tucked into her pocket.
Cannon, who came to the festival from Pittsburgh, said she enjoyed seeing Halsey — who is openly bisexual — perform Thursday night. Volunteers at the CAMP Rehoboth booth agreed.
Other LGBTQ festival attendees flocked to the Backyard stage on Friday evening to see Ashnikko, another out, bisexual artist. Many forged new friendships with other community members from across the country as they waited for her set to begin.
Ashnikko is “one of the more popular queer artists,” Parker said.
It’s a refreshing change of pace; when Parker was younger, they said the only queer song they had was “I Kissed a Girl” by Katy Perry.
More accepting music
Now, seeing kids who looked as young as 11 pushing to the front of Ashnikko’s crowd, “makes (their) heart warm.”
“It’s a very emotional experience because I didn't get that growing up,” they said.
CAMP Rehoboth volunteer Tamia Martinez said more queer representation in music also creates more “relatability” for listeners like her.
“When you have a queer artist, they're able to put that in their music,” she said. “It translates to good songs.”
In Ashnikko’s case, her most popular song, “Slumber Party,” is explicitly about two women having sex. After singing it live on Friday, she jokingly said, “Thank you to gay people only.” She also gave a direct shout-out to her girlfriend, who was in attendance at her concert.
“Music is this powerful force that brings people together, and to see artists representing the community is very powerful,” Brown said. “It makes me feel seen (and) feel represented in the world.”
Representatives for the 11 openly queer musical acts performing at Firefly Festival either declined requests to comment or did not reply to them.
Firefly’s annual Pride Parade will return on Sunday.
Send story tips or ideas to Hannah Edelman at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more reporting, follow them on Twitter at @h_edelman.
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This article originally appeared on Delaware News Journal: Pride at Firefly 2022 isn't limited to annual parade - or the audience