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Queer Folk®: Coming Soon to a Coffee Shop — or Ceasefire Action — Near You

Marketplace Story

Somewhere near the intersection of artistry and activism sits local musician Amrit Kohli’s Queer Folk®, Inc., an incubator for progressive queer artists and activists.

Since founding the group in 1997  with the aim of fostering connection among like-minded artists of all types, Queer Folk® has blossomed into a diverse movement focused on more than simple entertainment — the coalition serves as a platform for societal reflection and change. "We use our platform to raise awareness about issues that affect our community, from queer rights to racial justice to police brutality," Amrit says. “It's about using art as a tool for advocacy and empowerment.”

Through performances, art installations and poetry, the coalition addresses pressing issues such as queer rights, racial justice and systemic oppression in a way that Amrit hopes sparks vital conversations and empowers marginalized communities. Recent initiatives, like a Gaza ceasefire advocacy event at Drifter Coffee in Ferndale, exemplify the coalition’s commitment to broader social issues.

“Queer Folk® is more than just a record label; it's a movement," Amrit explains. "It's about creating a space where queer artists from all walks of life can come together, collaborate, and celebrate their unique voices.”

Born in Nairobi, Kenya, Amrit’s personal journey, shaped by his family’s immigrant experiences and early encounters with discrimination, ignited an enthusiasm for both music and social justice and is foundational to why he was inspired to create Queer Folk®. "Music has always been my solace," he says. "From teaching myself guitar to writing songs that reflect my immigrant experience and activism, it's been a journey of self-discovery and empowerment." 

Inspired by the works of artists like Ani DiFranco and driven by a desire to challenge societal norms, Amrit says he founded Queer Folk® as a means to amplify marginalized voices and advocate for social change. “I wanted to create a platform where queer artists could express themselves freely, without fear of judgment or discrimination,” he explains.



Despite obstacles he says he has faced along the way, including ongoing discrimination and the censorship of an early album, "9/11" that featured a cover image of the World Trade Center under attack, Amrit remains unwavering in his mission to amplify queer voices and promote inclusivity. Through performances and social media campaigns, he continues to challenge norms and advocate for a more equitable society.

Looking ahead, Amrit envisions Queer Folk® as a global movement, uniting queer artists worldwide in solidarity and celebration. While Queer Folk® helps promote members of the collective on its website and through social media, Amrit says the group’s mission goes well beyond a typical record label or promotor.  It serves to create a sense of community in a time Amrit says our community has been fractured by apps like Grindr and Tinder, which separate people into boxes and do little to promote a true sense of community. "We welcome artists of all mediums – musicians, painters, poets — as long as they self-identify as queer and resonate with our values," Amrit emphasized. "It's about fostering a sense of belonging and solidarity among queer creators."

Queen Folk® artists like musician Ryan Cassata promote similar vibes through music, while writers like Marques Coley channel peaceful queer energy into written works of poetry. 

In a world often fraught with division, Queer Folk®’s message of love and acceptance serves as a beacon of hope for a more inclusive future. "We live in a society that still marginalizes queer voices, but we're not afraid to speak out," he says. "Queer Folk® is a testament to the resilience and creativity of the queer community."

Amrit envisions Queer Folk® evolving into a global movement, a sort of “traveling bazaar” uniting queer artists from around the world in solidarity and celebration. "Our journey has just begun," he says. "But with each song we sing, each painting we create, we're forging a path toward a more inclusive and equitable world."

Artwork by Alma Ponce de León for Amrit Kohli's upcoming album "Mama! I Can't Breathe."
Artwork by Alma Ponce de León for Amrit Kohli's upcoming album "Mama! I Can't Breathe."

Amrit recently announced the forthcoming release of his next (and fourth) full-length album titled “Mama!  I Can’t Breathe,” a tribute to George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement.  The album drops on Juneteenth this year on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music and just about all the music streaming sites.  “Playing our songs, listening to our music, and buying our merchandise is the best way to support our vision and mission,” Amrit says.  You can purchase music and other meaningful merchandise on the Queer Folk® website, queerfolk.com.

Calling all artists and activists! If you are an artist, musician, poet, activist, public speaker, or in any capacity, an orator, and you are interested in speaking or performing at an upcoming event, please get back to Amrit at (415) 361-6691 or at [email protected].

This content is made possible through our partnership with Queer Folk®. Partnerships like these enable Pride Source to produce free, quality storytelling for the LGBTQ+ community.



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