The season of rock is upon us. This summer kids are attending rock camps all over and learning how to write, perform, and generally jam out to the beat of their own instruments.
This year marked the debut of Long Beach-based Queer Rock Camp, which considers itself a place that “empowers and builds community through musical collaboration.” The Queer Rock Camp is the first and only of its kind in California–the closest similar program is in Portland, Oregon.
QRC co-founder Jenny Corona explained the development of the QRC came about after her youngest daughter came out as genderfluid.
“My youngest child had gone to girl’s rock camp and had a life changing experience,” she said. “The year after that they came out as genderfluid. We thought how cool it would be to have a rock camp for queer kids. It’s so empowering for girls why not do that for queer kids!”
What makes the camp special is the children who attend it. I had the chance to watch as kid rockers shared music they’ve created in just one a week and command a stage with confidence and in front a live audience.
For co-founder Annie Parkhurst, the performances onstage were the culmination of week focused on self acceptance and discovery. “For the first time a lot of these youth are using the names that they want to be called-they’re using the pronouns that they prefer…So it’s really an important space that we create of love and encouragement “
Prior to the performances the atmosphere was frenetic and riffe with anticipation. I caught one aspiring rocker saying, “Wow! Why are there so many cameras?!” But amidst the excitement and energy I wondered “will they be any good?” I can gladly say YES. The performances were exuberant and I can genuinely say left audience members begging for more.
These kids brought the house down. The first notes of the opening number garnered an audible gasp from the crowd followed by immediate approval and cheers. Their songs were complex, heartfelt and sophisticated. Reflecting the unique experiences of young, queer, aspiring rockers, the lyrics were often surprisingly engrossing such as, “Sometimes I wanna crawl out of my skin and make my new home in the trees/ wanna live in a world where I sleep in the branches/ and make friends with the birds and the bees.”
The kids of Queer Rock Camp gave us a show filled with depth and heart and proved that they rock and roll.