Revisit: Beatport x LoveChild Talks – A Celebration of Trans+ & Nonbinary Artists

Trans nonbinary
Dec 1, 2023
·
By
Vincent Morris
Following Trans Awareness week, the latest installment of Beatport’s live panel series celebrated the lives and work of three LGBTQ+ artists during their time in the music industry.

The session was hosted by GIN (LGBTQ event promoter and resident DJ of Love Child), joined by Mwen (artist, educator and live sound specialist), Mya Mehmi (artist and producer of Pxssy Palace), and Grace Sands (founding member of DiY soundsystem and resident DJ of NYC Downlow and Adonis).

What draws all three speakers together is their love and admiration for club culture. Inspired by the intrinsic values and qualities at the heart of it, the drive to co-create and share experiences as a community is what makes it all worthwhile. As such, they were all touched enough to become heavily involved in the scene and start contributing to it. Grace affirmed: “We’re here to dance with friends and create a space that’s warm, inclusive. We’re all human beings. That’s what we need, isn’t it – to be fulfilled on a Saturday or Friday?”

“My inspiration really is the club. I feel like I have been at my highest in the club (pardon the pun). I’ve also been at my lowest and use the club as therapy. And you hear so many stories in the club and make so many connections. And I think it can be political and it can be romantic and it can be like a family space, it can be sexy. It can be all the things that you need to draw inspiration from” – Mya Mehmi

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Having been in the game since 1989, Grace candidly shared moments from her historical involvement with the infamous Castlemorton free parties and hedonistic escapades around the world. Reflecting back on the naivety and freshness of the early 90s and considering the direction the wider electronic music culture is going in (e.g. with newer institutions such as Drumsheds), she still believes in the power of that special moment – the epiphany one gets when being initiated into club/festival culture. Although the culture may seem more commoditised and less underground today, it’s still a rite of passage for people.

If you look more closely at queer and trans+ electronic music communities, you’ll probably notice that themes of empowerment, education, and support all come to the forefront. As marginalized people, clubbing spaces have become a unique mode of expression for them but more importantly a way to provide more opportunities and support for the people in those communities.

“The thing that I’m interested in is, how can we just keep filling it and keep giving people the things that they need to be more involved in it, so they can have the space, and they can create the space, and they can learn how to participate in the space in different ways” – Mwen

Mwen paints themself as an enabler, who is dedicated to providing access to people in the community where conventional routes into the industry may be disproportionately unviable. Their love for technology and sharing that with others has motivated her to find ways to help younger LGBTQ+ generations coming through.

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Another key part of the panel discussed the subject of creating safer and more inclusive spaces – a hugely important topic within the scene – which also proximates the relationship between queer and straight club scenes, a line that has always been contended and debated.

Mwen mentions power dynamics and the fact that institutional knowledge is implemented typically by CIS-gendered men in the industry, who aren’t sensitive or cognizant of the needs of the LGBTQ+ community and the systemic oppression they face. Their work as a result tries to subvert that by sharing as much knowledge and expertise as possible to others.

Grace makes the point that “I’m happy to go to anywhere and I don’t think we should be stuck in only queer spaces.” Some London clubs that were given a shout out for their pro-active approach were fabric, The Cause, HERE, and Colour Factory. Mya gave praise, saying:

“[Colour Factory] have done an amazing job at creating a space that absolutely welcomes and celebrates queerness and minorities, but also hasn’t isolated itself from the straights, you know, so I think that they’ve done a great job of that.

Our first experience with fabric was just a month ago – the team there was so great and so supportive. And obviously being such an iconic venue that has gone through its ups and downs, it’s just really, really encouraging to see a team of people that really want to get it right and are committed to getting it right. So big up fabric” – Mya Mehmi

With such dedicated people working in the scene, the future trajectory looks optimistic. The panel ended with some notes of encouragement and a DJ set from Ryan Lavelle for everyone to get warmed up.

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