In March, PQ sat down with Jen Roberton to discuss her growing group LesBiOUT! We caught up with the busy promoter to discuss her Candyland party, a queer-women-centric Pride party taking place this weekend at the Local Lounge. Happy Pride, 2018!
ProudQueer: I know you have really expanded LesBiOUT! this year. How has that been going?
Jen Roberton: Yes, that is absolutely true! We've been doing so many events and that has contributed to us rising to over 2,200 members - including 150 more people since the March PQ article. First of all, for spring and summer I worked with the group ticket sales manager of the Portland Thorn's Women's soccer team to create a LesbiOut discount code. They made a unique URL for us with ticket links to all of the Thorns games posted on the Meetup page. These games are so popular; we pregame socialize at nearby bars and then fill up the bleachers with around 30 or so members -- it's exciting to know that we are simultaneously the most attended Women's professional sports team in the world and the who's who of the Portland women's queer scene. In addition to sporting events, we have a bunch of member hosted meetups that help bring community to more neighborhoods in the city and encourage different interests. I highly encourage active member participation, and I love seeing that aspect of LesbiOut! flourish. The pinnacle of this year so far though, is that we are doing a Saturday night Pride party at the Local Lounge, which is my dream come true as a gay event promotor.
Other exciting things are happening, too. We have a complimentary wine & cheese mixer for LesbiOut! before seeing the play, “The Secretaries”. It has an all-female cast and we get another discount code – how could you not want to go? On top of that, this summer I’m hosting the Queer Comedy Festival after party and a speed networking event that I’m bringing to town created by Dr. Frankie of Little Gay Book – to say the least; I’ve been busy!
PQ: Candyland is your Pride event for women in the queer community. What was your inspiration?
JR: I go into planning my events with a vision of what I want, while being open to ideas from the artists I promote. To me, collaboration is the key – especially since I’m an extrovert and get energy from being out around other creative individuals. When I met with The Dust Bunnies, the lesbian fiancés who are headlining the event, they had the idea of a sexy Candyland party. We thought about rainbow swirly lollipops as an emoji mascot and then it went from there. As electronic music lovers, Candyland is also an ode to the early 2000s techno rave scene that each of us were a part of. It’s funny that we were just in different parts of the country during the same movement.
PQ: You said you wanted to explore and celebrate sexuality with this event. What was your motivation?
JR: Pride is about being proud of who we are in our sexuality, so it only seems natural to celebrate that concept at this Portland Pride. Yes, we love rainbows, unicorns, and equal rights, everyone knows that, but we also love kissing each other. Also, a sexy party is a fun one, and something that people will talk about for years to come.
PQ: What can we expect at the Candyland event?
JR: You’ll have to come and see. I expect that the night at Candyland will be the type of night that you are so glad you came.
PQ: What are you most excited about in terms of your event?
JR: I’m really just so excited to be at Pride and out with everyone. The event is a space for us to get together and listen to amazing music and have a good time. I mean, we are going to have a really good time. This event will have the kind of music and atmosphere that The Dust Bunnies and I vibe with and it’s going to be the time of our lives, as Abba would say.
PQ: Who do you have providing entertainment?
JR: Yours truly, AKA Jen Xo, is hosting the start of the night with some deep house EDM and a touch of disco house. I’m also spinning some goth pop songs for our reigning drag king, Johnny O, Duke of Hearts III; he will drive the crowd wild and onto the dance floor. I’m new to djing in clubs; however, I’ve been a garage DJ for years with my roots going back to spinning vinyl on techniques turntables. I am obsessed with listening to my headphones during my day job and finding new music to add to my playlists. Our headliner for the night are The Dust Bunnies, an electronic music dj duo comprised of Dakota and Gen; fiances tag teaming tech house beats together. They are up and coming and definitely a dj duo to be looking out for. I’ve absolutely loved collaborating with them on this event and look forward to more. The sugar on the gumdrop is that we have an amazing go go dancer performing during the party, a self proclaimed, “Activist coming out as a Pop Tart”. Also, my coworker, Igi, is providing our light show.
PQ: Anything else you'd care to add, about how stoked you are for Pride 2018?
JR: I’m stoked to be part of the community and to spend this Pride with so many of the friends that I’ve made since coming out in 2015. I’m also stoked that the Local Lounge is giving us a space for Pride weekend. Another thing about Pride is that it’s so nice go out around town and see the show of support given to the LGBTQIAA community through rainbow flags and friendly gestures. It means a lot to me.
PQ: LesBiOUT! has really made gains in developing new venues and events for queer women in our community. What led you to really dive into this role of promoting, creating, and disseminating events?
JR: What first led me to the role of queer event planner/promotor was that I wanted to spend more time in my LGBTQ community since I barely knew any gay people except for me. Once I realized how fun it was to spend time together, and how important it was for me and other lesbian, trans, and genderqueer individuals to have spaces to get together to find friends, lovers, and partners, I knew that this was my passion. Suddenly, I just had to continue posting as many cool events as possible.
From the Editor: In an ongoing series, Proud Queer Portland is covering local MeetUps of interest to the LGBTQ+ community. Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you lead, or are a member of a MeetUp we should cover.