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From Movement to Electric Forest and Beyond: Your Queer Guide to Music Festivals

Make a plan for queer-friendly fests happening in 2024

Madeleine Aitken

Something about a music festival feels intrinsically and irrevocably queer. Perhaps it’s the fact that they pretty much originated, at least in the United States, with Woodstock, a symbol of counterculture and proud self-expression. Since Woodstock in 1969, music festivals have maintained this reputation, and now their lineups are finally — slowly — starting to reflect that too. 

There’s such a proliferation of music festivals these days that during the summer months, you could go to one pretty much every weekend. Below, you’ll find your guide to parsing through the options, including some Michigan favorites, plus women and LGBTQ+ music festivals you probably haven’t heard of. 

Movement Music Festival 



May 25 - 27, Detroit 

Memorial Day marks the officially unofficial start of the summer, and what better way to celebrate than with an electronic music festival? Movement Music Festival is hosting several LGBTQ+ performers in Detroit’s Hart Plaza, including Black trans DJ Honey Dijon, a powerful LGBTQ+ voice in the electronic music world who also works as an advocate for trans rights. Meanwhile, Detroit's own DJ Minx, who came out publicly in 2021 during June Pride Month, will also get you to dancefloor.

Detroit is credited as the birthplace of techno, making it a fitting location for an electronic music festival. Another one of the Movement performers, producer LP Giobbi, founded Femme House, a non-profit that creates opportunities for women and gender-expansive individuals in the technical and behind-the-scenes areas of music, as producers, mixers, engineers, DJs, artists and executives. movementfestival.com

Governors Ball Music Festival

June 7 - 9, Queens, New York

Gov Ball has been held at a few outdoor locations in New York City since its inception in 2011 — this year’s event takes place in Corona Park–Flushing Meadows in Queens. By far the most mainstream festival on this list, it saw over 100,000 attendees in 2023. Even though it sometimes gets written off for being a hotbed of drunk tri-state area teens, it usually pulls together pretty solid lineups, and attendees say it’s worth it even with the younger crowd, especially if you go VIP.

This year, the lineup includes LGBTQ+ performers Ryan Beatty, who famously came out a few weeks after the Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016; Chappell Roan, who is on the up and up as a major queer pop superstar; and Renée Rapp, who is bisexual and gained notoriety for her character’s moving sexuality arc on “The Sex Lives of College Girls,” not to mention her recent starring role as Regina George in the “Mean Girls” reboot. (You can also catch both Roan and Rapp at Bonnaroo the next weekend, if Tennessee is more your speed.) governorsballmusicfestival.com

Electric Forest

June 20 - 23, Rothbury, Michigan

Electric Forest is a four-day electronic music festival in Rothbury that’s been around since 2008. This year, longtime LGBTQ+ ally Nelly Furtado is headlining the festival, along with big names like Ludacris and Subtronics. 

Furtado, of “Promiscuous” and “Maneater” fame, has long been open about her closeness to the LGBTQ+ community — in 2012, she told Pride Source about going to her first gay club at 17: “My sister took me to this awesome gay club, which was the first time I saw beautiful queens on stage…I’m going, ‘Oh my god, there’s a whole other world out here.’ I was transfixed.” 

And for fans of her recent single “Eat Your Man” with Dom Dolla, who is also on the lineup, this might be an opportunity to see them perform the song together. electricforest.com

Fern Fest

July 9 - 14 , Trufant, Michigan

There are some music festivals, like Michigan’s Fern Fest, that exist specifically for women, trans and non-binary folks. Michigander Abra Wise founded Fern Fest in 2022 because she “wanted to continue to find her community, specifically women, nonbinary and trans folks, in the context of a music festival and allow others to access healing and connection during a week in the Michigan woods.” 

Now heading into its third year, Fern Fest will be held at a new mid-Michigan venue (Smiling Acres in Trufant) with a diverse lineup of fantastic stage performers, plus camping, learning and other activities. Wise has spent time at countless music festivals, including Fern Fest predecessor Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, which was held annually from 1976 to 2015. 

“Queer community brings a lot of meaning to my work in creating Fern Fest,” Wise said. “We may have some shared identities or similar lived experiences as women, non-binary and trans folks but making the decision to show up and connect with each other is what's special.” michiganfernfest.com

Day In Day Out Festival

July 12 - 14, Seattle Center, Washington

Daydream State will host its fourth annual Day In Day Out festival this July, with a new surprise announced in early February: “With the overwhelming success of last year’s sold-out weekend, we decided to expand in 2024 by adding a third day,” said CEO and founder of Daydream State Jason Lajeunesse. 

That third day is headlined by queer-loved queen Carly Rae Jepsen, who has established a cult following that consists largely of gay men. The other headliners are Bleachers, led by prominent ally Jack Antonoff, and The Head and the Heart, whose co-founding member Josiah Johnson is openly queer, though he left the band in 2020 to pursue solo ventures. Other LGBTQ+ artists playing that weekend include Miya Folick and Sir Chloe, whose frontwoman Dana Foote shared an emotional Instagram post last Pride about her journey with queerness, where she wrote about growing up in a small, conservative town. “When I was dating my first girlfriend, we were too afraid to tell even our closest friends,” she wrote. These days, she shared, the band is helping fans find community and connection. “The kid in me who kept secrets from her friends heals a little more with each show we play.” dayindayoutfest.com

OUTLOUD Music Festival

May 31 - June 2, Downtown West Hollywood

Leave it to West Hollywood to know how to do a queer music festival exactly the way it should be done. The OUTLOUD Music Festival kicks off Pride Month — it actually takes place during WeHo Pride — and their recently announced lineup is one for the books: Kylie Minogue, Janelle Monáe and Diplo will all headline, with other acts including Doechii, Ashnikko, Noah Cyrus, Trixie Mattel, Keke Palmer, Channel Tres, Yaeji, Big Freedia, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and VINCINT also on the roster. Now in its fourth year, the festival’s goal is, according to press materials, simple — “championing queer artists and creating a space for people to live authentically. weareoutloud.com 

Pitchfork Music Festival

July 19 - 21, Chicago’s Union Park 

You don’t have to go too far to check out Jepsen (again), MUNA, Jessie Ware and Alanis Morissette at Pitchfork in Chicago — and, frankly, with a lineup like that, you may not want to miss out. Ware, of course, is one of modern music disco-lite delights, bringing a soulful sound to her ’70s-era throwbacks. Notably, Brittany Howard will also perform. A five-time Grammy winner, Howard is the former frontwoman of Alabama Shakes; her solo music, including her newly released second album “What Now,” embraces her identity as a queer Black woman. pitchforkmusicfestival.com

Hinterland Music Festival

Aug. 2 - 4, Saint Charles, Iowa

Hinterland is like a queer haven in the middle of Iowa. And with one stage and around 15,000 attendees, it has a more intimate feel than some of the big festivals, which can be a draw especially for a first-time festivalgoer. Headlined by Hozier, Vampire Weekend and Noah Kahan, queer artists dominate the rest of the lineup, which includes Ethel Cain, Chappell Roan, Orville Peck, The Japanese House, Blondshell, Katy Kirby and Palehound. hinterlandiowa.com

Stargaze

Aug. 23 - 25, Tolland, Massachusetts 

Stargaze provides another opportunity for women, non-binary and trans people to experience a weekend of community and connection. Held at a sleepaway camp in Massachusetts, the weekend includes workshops and activities alongside live performances from queer and nonbinary artists. 

Stargaze's website describes its festival as “the way life should be: fun, beautiful, and all-inclusive.” The beauty of LGBTQ+ and women-focused festivals, as Fern Fest’s founder noted, is this ability to spend a weekend free from the rest of the world. These festivals provide great options for people looking to experience this kind of community and enjoy music alongside non-traditional festival components like workshops and activities. stargazefestival.com

All Things Go Music Festival

Sept. 30, Columbia, Maryland

When All Things Go announced its 2023 lineup, it became an Internet sensation. “gay ppl coming out of the woodwork to freak out over the All Things Go lineup today,” one commenter wrote on social media. “I keep calling All Things Go the ‘gay girl music festival’ and when people ask what that means I just show them the lineup,” another said. 

That lineup had Tegan and Sara, boygenius, MUNA, FLETCHER, Ethel Cain, Leith Ross and Ella Jane, among others, plus Jepsen and other big names like Lana Del Rey and Maggie Rogers. The festival intentionally centers women and queer artists, and if last year’s lineup is any indication of what this year will bring, it’s sure to be a very queer time. allthingsgofestival.com



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