If there’s a better place than a music festival for someone to be their true self, I haven’t heard of it. Music festivals foster a sense of acceptance and love, no matter who you are. That’s why it’s so important for all to feel welcome and included and that’s why it’s amazing that Electric Forest HQ chose a member of the LGBT+ community who participates in drag to be their Monarch in 2017.
The Monarch Program is an opportunity for a festival-goer to work with Forest HQ to improve some feature of The Forest. In the past, Monarchs have brought tangible ideas to the Forest, like a healthy eating program as in 2016, or more hydration and water stations as in 2015. This year, however, Monarch Rachel is going to bring something to the Forest which will raise awareness for an often overlooked community in the festival world, LGBT+ festival-goers.
“I have seen very little LGBT+ representation coming from music festivals,” said Monarch Rachel, in an Instagram post on the official Electric Forest account. “My royal court and I are changing that with the help of Electric Forest. Us LGBT+ people need to know we are welcomed and embraced by the communities around us.”
As a non-binary individual, Monarch Rachel is breaking Forest tradition by not calling their self “King” or “Queen.” This is just one aspect of Rachel’s Monarch program they say will give The Forest community opportunities to learn about the experiences of LGBT+ identifying individuals. While Electric Forest rages on, Monarch Rachel hopes people will ask questions about the LGBT+ community and be ready to listen to the court’s answers and experiences.
Drag also lends itself to the Forest, as a way for people to express themselves. Wearing costumes, crazy makeup and dressing up are the norm at festivals, and adding the element of drag to the culture is not a big leap. According to Rachel, “drag also improves The Forest experience because it is a very inclusive and creative way to express yourself, regardless of your gender.”
Leaving a festival and forgetting the sense of community you found there is impossible, which is why Monarch Rachel’s message will hopefully keep on living long after the last beats of music echo through Sherwood Forest.
As a community that prides itself on accepting everyone, it’s important to accept not just the weirdos and the outcasts, but people from different communities entirely. The response on social media to Electric Forest’s announcement of the 2017 Monarch has been almost overwhelmingly positive, which bodes well for Monarch Rachel’s agenda of inclusivity and awareness for LGBT+ in the Forest.
So, if you see Monarch Rachel and the court in The Forest, make sure to say hi and get a different perspective on life from our 2017 Monarch. After all, what better place to open your mind than Electric Forest?