Stargayzer music festival spotlights LGBT artists

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Austin’s LGBT arts scene has cemented its presence in the city over the years. For the first time, this community has its own music festival, too, in addition to the many other LGBT festivals.

Stargayzer Fest is the first LGBT-focused music festival in Austin. Taking place Friday through Sunday at Pine Street Station and The North Door, it was born out an idea festival producer Brett Hornsby had for over a year.

“I have done a lot of touring around the world and seen such amazing gay acts all over the world, and Austin is a festival city,” Hornsby said. “I just thought it would be great to kind of do something that just focused on LGBT artists.”

Despite being in its first year, the festival is not starting out small. The festival booked more than 100 artists for its three-day run, a rarity among most inaugural festivals.

“We really just wanted to start out with a bang, to showcase as much as we possibly could,” said Tisha Sparks, the organizer and booker at Stargazyer Fest. “We wanted to attract people to Austin with this great lineup and see our community here.” 

According to both Hornsby and Sparks, the festival was a massive undertaking that took the last year to plan. They also ran into problems with location, choosing to scrap plans to host the festival at the camp grounds of Carson Creek Ranch and changing to its current downtown location.

“That was probably the biggest decision: to bring the festival back to town,” Sparks said. “But it’s been an overwhelmingly positive experience. People have been excited to be able to take their bikes or take cabs. It’s just a lot more accessible for everybody, and it allows us to make the ticket prices a little bit better.”

Xiu Xiu, Big Freedia, Austra and Trust will all headline the festival. More regional bands, such as local punk rockers Feral Future, will play as well. The festival will also host performances by DJs, comedians and drag artists.   

Hornsby was conscious of the importance of diversity when booking the festival. 

“If we were going to do something this big, there’s no reason for just our musical tastes or to present just one type of thing,” Hornsby said. “It had to be, had to be, diverse; there’s no other reason for it to exist.”

Both Hornsby and Sparks view the festival as a logical extension of Austin’s scene, as well as a means to bring in national and international acts that might not be aware of what is happening in Austin. 

“It’s essentially creating a community space where gays and lesbians and trans and straight people are all in one space,” Hornsby said. “We hope it teaches people about the diversity of our community, but also opens their eyes up to things they haven’t seen before and encourages new ideas.”