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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Striking “QORDS”: LGBTQ club throws rockin’ benefit concert

It’s an old cliche: Music is the universal language. But Queer-Oriented Rap/Rock Day School plans to turn the phrase in a new and daring way.

Inspired by Queer Rock Camp based in Olympia, Wash., QORDS was founded in 2012. Their goal is to reach out to southern LGBTQA youth and children of LGBTQA parents by holding a week-long, sleep-away music camp in Lenoir, N.C., this summer from July 29–Aug. 3.

The QORDS camp is the first of its kind in the South.

“We see music as a tool of empowerment,” said QORDS Organizing Team Member Meredith Hancock via phone interview. “There’s something about being on stage and having a microphone that brings out your confidence in a way you don’t get to experience in daily life.”

The QORDS camp aims to allow camp members to form bands and write songs to express their thoughts and struggles.

No prior musical or songwriting experience is necessary. The camp will provide workshops in instrument training and composition, as well as gender identity, sexual orientation, activism and self-defense.

Senior Jess St. Louis, a community justice and women’s gender and sexuality  double-major, said that the community-empowerment aspect of QORDS is its highest priority.

“One of the scariest things for queer kids (is thinking), ‘Am I the only one?’” said St. Louis. “We want to let them know that we’re here … and build some friendships and connections that last longer than just the camp.”

St. Louis, a Greensboro organizing team member for QORDS, arranged the lineup and space for the QORDS benefit held on Feb. 23 at Glenwood Coffee and Books.

Juan Miranda, co-owner of the shop, said he was delighted to host the benefit.

“QORDS is radical in its own right,” Miranda says. “It should be normal, but in general, in our society, it’s a very radical idea to create something for a marginalized group.”

The concert was hosted by Bootz Durango, a local performing artist.

“I’m always excited to hit the stage, but it’s nice to support some brothers and sisters in homosexuality,” said Durango.

Durango also commented on the power of music.

“You can listen to a song and relate to that song, and it can change your whole perception on how you view reality,” said Durango. “If that’s the case, if you have an organization that supports music and changing perceptions, that helps make homosexuality acceptable.”

First in the lineup was The Tomboys, a three-piece girl punk band. The band performed everything from hardcore punk to Beastie Boys–esque rap-rock, and each member switched instruments between guitar, bass and drums.

“This is the first time I’ve ever played drums … in front of people,” the bassist yelled from the kit.

“We play rock ’n’ roll,” said the guitarist to the audience. “It’s not the business of perfection.”

Next in the lineup was Guilford alumnus Aleks Babic ‘07 who performed spoken-word poetry.

“(QORDS) is for queer kids. That doesn’t happen very often. A gay music camp … I think it’s a bold idea, and I’m glad it’s happening,” said Babic after the show.

Babic was accompanied by Laila Nur, a Greensboro singer-songwriter, who also closed the concert before a dance party DJ’ed by Lydia Lewallen.

The benefit raised $465.25. All proceeds will go towards operational costs and financial scholarships for the summer camp.

Though officially the master of ceremonies, Bootz Durango also performed two freestyle R&B songs. During his second number, Durango perhaps summed up the mood of the night and QORDS’s mission.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re straight or gay / Confidence is the only way.”

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