gAyCL: The LGBTQ Alternative to ACL

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First off, tell me about yourself?  Whats your background? How did you end up here?  Do you like long walks on the beach? That kind of thing…

My name is Ezra Edwards. I’m 28, a creative writing graduate of Texas State just last year. I was born and raised in Austin, Texas (and proud of it). I work part time for a non-profit as an after school instructor. I teach 1st graders and I love it. They are the best part of my day. I’m a dj and the owner of GirlFriend.

What is GirlFriend (a blog? an event org? a movement?) and how long has it been around?

I’ve been doing GirlFriend since June 2011. I throw special events and also dj under the name GirlFriend. I’ve always said that GirlFriend is “the party with a purpose.” GirlFriend is a dance party that caters to the interests of women and the gay community but is still all-inclusive. As a dj, I’ve thrown themed parties, most notable have been my “versus series” such as “Beyonce VS Rihanna” and my upcoming “Katy Perry VS Lady Gaga.” GirlFriend is also comprised of special events that raise money for non-profits like an all-girls arm wrestling competition (“Girls with Gunz“) for SafePlace or an all female talent show (“Girl, You Think Got Talent?“) which raised funds for Planned Parenthood. GirlFriend is also gAyCL, which will benefit OutYouth this year. I call gAyCL my “gayby.”

I know this is the 3rd year of gAyCL.  Why did you think it was important to have an LGBTQ focused music festival?

Austin has quickly become the Music Festival Capital of the World. We have parties like SXSW, which have queer alternatives, and I felt like ACL weekend needed one, too. The thing I’m put off by about festivals is that they are very large and impersonal. gAyCL, however, is still small enough that it is personal and intimate. “The queer independent alternative” I call it. I thought of gAyCL five years ago and when I started GirlFriend, the timing was perfect to reveal it.

I’m sure all of this event planning is a lot of work. Do you have a team of volunteers or is this all you?

It’s mostly me, yes. And yes, it is a lot of work. I’ve done all the booking, negotiations and organizing.  My other half is Lauren Dickens, who does all of my design work. I bounce ideas off of her constantly. She is my right-hand in GirlFriend. Honestly, I have a lot of great friends that support me and help me in anyway they can. Cheer Up Charlie‘s has also played in a big role in support. They are very interested in nurturing my ideas and creativity. They believe in GirlFriend, my potential and the things I can do.

I’ve seen the lineup and it looks great. Are there any secret surprises we should know about?

Yep. But you’ll have to show up to find out! And for the record, this is the first year I’m flying in a special guest. I’m very excited about having Nomi Ruiz of Jessica 6 come perform. She is a truly amazing performer and a rising icon in gay culture (she is trans) and dance music culture.

Anything else you think we should know about you, GirlFriend or gAyCL?

This is going to a be a very special evening. Also, I want people to know about OutYouth and the good that it does for LGBTQ youth ages 12-19. I was a part of OutYouth when I was in high school and, funny enough, I just dj’ed their annual prom this past year. gAyCL is going to be an amazing party but also one that serves a purpose as part of the proceeds will go to OutYouth. gAyCL is meant to be from the heart and that is exactly what people are going to get. Also, after gAyCL will be the third installment of Girls with Gunz on November 15th.

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