“Everyone is truly welcome, as long as they participate in our pact of mutual respect among all attendees.”
Danya Ensing (http://www.danya-ensing.com/)

Wayne State’s grad student queer group, GQWSU, will present a diverse line up of local LGBTQ performers in a free music showcase called I Like You – An Inclusive Music Showcase at 7 p.m. on April 13 at St. Andrew’s Memorial Episcopal Church on campus.

PhD candidate in film and media studies, event organizer and social chair of GQWSU Peter Marra says the event is intended to be an opportunity for community building, especially for those who identify as LGBTQ.

“I wanted to foster a supportive communal space for all Wayne State students and community members,” Marra says. “To do this, I invited a roster of talented local LGBTQ musicians to entertain for the evening and provide the audience with a shared experience of art and music.”

In the line-up are: Jes Kramer, a singer and songwriter from Grand Rapids who is known for her skills with a loop pedal and calls herself a “one woman band,” RV Mendoza, a local Detroiter who is dancer and multimedia artists who has a penchant for electronic music and colorful flair and Duane the Jet Back Eel, known for his political brand of LGBTQ-friendly garage rock and who the Detroit Metro Times has called “Detroit’s foremost provocateur.”

“Performers were selected through dialogue with local musicians and venue organizers who generously helped me piece together a line-up of LGBTQ talents,” Marra says. “I tried to represent a diverse group of people with a diverse range of musical styles.”

Marra says featuring LGBTQ performers and cultivating an LGBTQ-friendly environment for students and ally peers is important, because the majority of campus events cater to straight students and spotlight straight supporters.

“I hope and expect this will be a wide-reaching campus event for all students, but I conceived it primarily as a space for LGBTQ students to have fun and to bond,” Marra says. “I also wanted to give them a chance to experience queer art and queer perspectives for a change. I hope this will provide a liberating experience for anyone who needs that right now.”

Looking forward, Marra says he ultimately hopes this event will strengthen WSU and Detroit’s LGBTQ community as well as model how inclusive programming can become an integral part of campus life.

“Everyone is truly welcome, as long as they participate in our pact of mutual respect among all attendees,” Marra says. “I borrowed the title, ‘I Like You’ from a sign a friend of mine made to hold up during a protest of the recent Muslim travel ban. It seemed to cut to the chase.”

“That somehow, we live in a moment where kindness is political. And so, ‘I Like You’ is meant as a sign of welcome to everyone. This event is for you. Come have a good time.”

Performer RV Mendoza is a self-identified queer/trans inclusive artist who has lived in Detroit for four years and has been performing for two. Mendoza makes disco pop music, and says he is honored to be a part of an experience meant to welcome everyone.

“You will see ‘Ru-veals.’ You will see flowers, maybe even confetti. It really depends on my budget, gurl,” Mendoza says. “I like to find an inspiration and then queer it up. Like Chromeo, but queer. Or The Knocks, but super gay.”

Mendoza says he wants audiences to dance, have fun, meet other LGBTQ folks and take this as an opportunity to strengthen the LGBTQ community in Detroit.

“Inclusivity is part of my story. It freed me,” Mendoza says. “As I became inclusive to all the parts of myself, I became even more inclusive to others. This event is about self-love. It’s about freedom.”

Duane Gholston, also known as Duane the Jet Black Eel, says he has been performing for six years and is now doing rock music. From him, audiences can expect a mix of political and cultural performance art/satire and rock and roll – Gholston guarantees a unique experience.

“It’s meant to mock standard American culture today, and basically right wing and Donald Trump’s vision of what makes America great,” Gholston says. “That’s what it’s supposed to mimic and make fun of, and it also takes a jab at a sense of black masculinity.”

Gholston says these performances will not be able to be seen anywhere else, plus the event is free and early.

“You hear about the news sports arena or the new QLINE arena or whatever disasters are happening in Flint, but you don’t hear about the great art that’s happening in the city now,” Gholston says. “I want [audiences] to know there’s some good stuff going on right under their noses.”

For more information and updates, visit their Facebook event page.

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