“Our big idea for this is to eventually grow to a point where we can get these artists that we love, when they’re in town playing and do an underplay where they maybe come in do something special for their fans or like Q&As and meet and greets, because I think like we created a nice environment to do those kinds of things,” Martinez said. “So that’s our big goal, is to connect artists who have done a lot for their fans, to meet them face to face.”

Lesbian singer-songwriter Zolita, 29, has cultivated a faithful following since the video for her song “Explosion” went viral with 20 million views in 2015, when she was a student at New York University. Since then, she has released two EPs, 2018’s “Sappho” and 2020’s “Evil Angel” and has a third, “Queen of Hearts,” due out at end of May. 

Zolita said she felt empowered by artists like Etheridge as well as the queer community she’s a part of and surrounded by. She said the massive response to “Explosion,” a song about falling in love with your best friend, validated her choice to be explicit about her identity as a lesbian in her music and her public persona, as well as her desire to work with as many queer collaborators and women as possible. 

Christopher Street West (CSW) Presents LA Pride's Official In-Person Music Event "LA Pride In The Park"
Zolita performs onstage during the LA Pride in the Park music festival at Los Angeles Historical Park on June 11, 2022.Emma McIntyre / Getty Images

“If you can prove yourself and prove that there are so many fans there, it’s undeniable,” Zolita said. “You’re going to have to be given those opportunities.”

Zolita said she’s not particularly concerned with winning a Grammy and has more interest in the Video Music Awards, where Sapphic performances have come from the likes of Madonna and Britney Spears rather than any actual queer women thus far. Before now, faux lesbianism was easier to swallow than actual Sapphic leanings, but Zolita and her peers like Roan and Rapp are seeing success with being themselves — a luxury afforded by lineage.

“I feel like I’m surrounded by so many incredible female artists and have gotten a chance to write and work with a lot of them,” Zolita said. “It’s so exciting to see what a renaissance is happening in music for women.”

While queer women are continuing to establish their influence and are starting to get their due on music’s most high-profile stages, women, in general, continue to have to prove themselves and their ability to reach a wide audience. As a smaller segment of an already marginalized population, queer women can still be seen as having limited appeal, despite their popularity proving otherwise.

Chappell Roan performs during the first day at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on April 12, 2024.
Chappell Roan performs during the first day at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on April 12, 2024.Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A dearth of women headliners at the biggest music festivals has led to the Book More Women initiative, which found that in 2024, less than 25% of musicians booked at major U.S. music festivals were women or nonbinary people. And while the National Women’s Music Festival is celebrating its 48th anniversary this June, it is now one of the few women-centric stages. when there used to be several like it all over the country. 

“Those were really empowering events,” McDonnell said. “Even Lilith.”

Book More Women’s impact can be seen at the Washington, D.C., festival All Things Go, where its partnership with the festival ensured 81% of acts included at least one woman or nonbinary artist. And while Renee Rapp, Chappell Roan and Janelle Monae are among the headliners at All Things Go, they still get lower billing than at other festivals like Bonnaroo or Lollapalooza. Still, bringing their full selves to the stage is part of a palpable shift. For artists like Zolita, who will tour around her new album this fall, the closet is simply out of the question.

“My whole brand is so just unabashedly queer, and all of my stories are about women falling in love with women,” Zolita said. “That is my whole entire brand and my platform. No one’s told me to stray from that, and I’m grateful.”

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Source: | This article originally belongs to Nbcnews.com

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