Last weekend, thousands of members of and allies to the LGBTQAI++ community gathered en masse at the Los Angeles State historic park for Pride in the Park. The multi-stage event, hosted by Christopher Street West Association, enthusiastically welcomed guests with dazzling displays of color, numerous photo-op locations, and plenty of room to party.
Headliners Megan Thee Stallion and Mariah Carey rewarded eager partygoers handsomely, with energetic performances punctuated by heartwarming speeches and an outpouring of love and support for the LGBTQAI++ community in Los Angeles and beyond. The festival was inundated with iconic faces, among the likes of which were widely loved Quinta Brunson, Queen Latifah, Chrishell Stause, Gigi Gorgeous, and Cara Delevigne.
FLAUNT sat down with a handful of the star performers from the weekend to ask about their relationship to the festival, their personal histories, and the things they forecast for their respective futures.
Boisterous and bold, The Scarlet Opera rocks with the energy of a new band, eager-to-please. Though the group’s sound brims with a fresh-faced verve, members of Scarlet Opera are no strangers to the music industry. The band has been blistering under the mainstream radar since 2016, and has gone through numerous stylistic iterations, including a recent name change from their former moniker, Perta. The group, comprised of frontman Luka Bazulka, bassist Daniel Zuker, pianist Colin Kendrick, drummer Justin Siegal, and guitarist Chance Taylor, formed after Colin saw Luka singing at a warehouse rave seven years ago. Since, the band has polished that lusty, full sound so noticeable in Bazulka’s solo set: after spending years penning songs in childhood bedrooms and practicing in apartment kitchens, The Scarlet Opera signed with Republic Records last year, and released single “The Place to Be” last September. FLAUNT sat with the band before the show to chat about their history and the pressures of burgeoning fame after seven years of hard work.
How did the Scarlet Opera come to be? Whose idea was it?
Colin Kendrick (Pianist): Luka, Danny and I actually went to college together. After college, I met Luka while he was singing at a warehouse party. He was playing by himself as the DJ. He was going crazy on stage, but there was a producer behind him that wasn’t interacting with him. [Luka] was doing all the work. I was like, amazing voice. Boring show. I asked him to dinner. That night I sent these guys a voicemail of [Luka] singing a song that he had written. Two days later, we were in my basement, writing. It took us like five years to get out of the basement into a kitchen. In the past year, we got a rehearsal space. We're really coming up. Ha Ha.
How are you staying present in the moment?
Daniel Zuker (bassist): Just unadulterated fear, honestly.
What is your message to LGBTQAI++ youth out there?
Luka: It's easy to feel like a fool in the larger community, in the greater world. And I think that if we can be the biggest fools in the room, it'll make everyone else feel a little bit comfortable. So if I would say anything to the queer youth, I would say do what you can. Take what you want, get what you can.
Amen to that.
People on Twitter have a complicated relationship with Miki Ratsula, which is to say: they love Ratsula and hate Ratsula because the artist makes them feel things. More often than not, Miki Ratsula is associated with crying at inappropriate times, or feeling ridiculously, hopelessly romantic. After releasing a debut album i owe it to myself and an EP of gender- neutral covers, made for them last year, the nonbinary singer, songwriter, and producer announced their new album, i'll be fine if i want to, last week. Before a magnificent set on Friday, Ratsula sat down with FLAUNT to talk about music, their identity, and their relationship to Pride.
What is it like performing at Pride? What are you most excited about performing at Pride?
It's really cool to be in a space where everyone is there to celebrate you, and you can celebrate other people, highlight issues within the queer community, and be a part of that community. And performing and sharing all that. It's nice to be in a space that's safe. That's the biggest thing. And taking back a lot of the shit that's going on and creating our own space at the same time.
How does your sexual transformation influence your music?
In every way. I always will have this lens when creating music and existing in the world. All the music that I'm making comes directly from my own experiences. It's always gonna have this queer lens through it. Whether the song is written about something that's not inherently queer, the music is always going to be inherently queer.
Amen to that. Lastly, what is your message to the LGBTQIA+ youth out there?
There's such a pressure to come out. I think it's most important that you’re ready to come out to yourself, because I know a lot of people are so focused on wanting to come out to the world, and they're not even ready within themselves. It is a journey, and it's totally fine how long you take — it doesn't matter. It's okay if you realize one thing and then another day realize you're something else. It's totally fine. First and foremost, it's your journey, and you should prioritize it being your journey and nobody else's.
After making headlines last year with singles “Waste of Space” and “Get Me Outta Here,” nonbinary Australian pop singer, songwriter, drummer and producer G Flip has shown no signs of wanting to slow down. Known for their ever-popular TikTok account, and widely adored as one-half of one of Hollywood’s favorite power couples with their wife Chrishell Stause, G Flip is quickly establishing themself as a talent worth keeping track of. Celebrated internationally for their warm demeanor and stellar songwriting talent, G Flip will embark on their first US headlining tour this fall.
What is it like performing at Pride? What are you most excited about when performing at Pride?
It's so awesome to play Pride. Events like this weren’t around when I was growing up. Everyone's unapologetically themselves and people are out here wearing next to nothing just showing off their body, all shapes, sizes, colors, sexualities, and gender identities. It’s so beautiful to just be able to celebrate something together with the LGBTQAI++ community and all our allies. It's fucking awesome.
What do you hope the audience takes home from your music and performance?
Growing up, there weren't many queer storylines in music. My music is very queer. I talk about queer relationships. I've got a song called “Gay 4 Me” and I just feel like representation in the queer community matters. Whether it's someone younger, someone my age, or older, just hearing music that is queer music, we didn't always have that. It's really important to help people find their own identity and maybe find parts of their sexuality that they never knew were there.
Where did the name G Flip originate?
My birth name is Georgia Flipo. Growing up, people called me G. People would call me flip. Or they call me G Flip. And because everyone in my family's nickname is Flip, to differentiate me, I was always G Flip. My dad's nickname is Flip as well, so when my friends would call that home phone, they'd say, can I talk to Flip? And he'd say “speaking” and then they'd say, “Oh, no G Flip.”
Like anyone who grew up with an internet presence, Jeffrey Eli loves a good pop culture reference. See: the cover of one of his recent singles, LADYBUG, which references Katy Perry’s One of The Boys. See: his widespread popularity on TikTok and Instagram, where he adds his own impressive vocal riffs to various memes and viral song clips. Despite having reached a certain stratosphere of internet celebrity for utilizing pop culture as a creative supplement to his own musicality, Eli’s discography contains a surprisingly intimate whimsicality. Drawing from his own experience as a queer youth, Eli sketches a landscape that feels earnest. Friendly. Fun.
Where did you first find your affinity for music?
It's hard to pinpoint. You know, it's the out-the-womb sort of story. Always singing, loved the attention growing up. Was kind of closeted and hiding most of my life in Massachusetts in a small little town, so music was the outlet, I guess you could say. I think the biggest point for me was I moved to New York when I turned 18, and the whole world was like, “Whoa, what the fuck. I can't believe this is real.”
What do you hope the audience takes home from your music and performance?
The biggest thing for me right now is fluidity and exploring that lyrically, exploring that sonically. I mean, the set that I did today was very much everything and nothing, all over the place, and that's the point of it, I guess. Sleeping Beauty is also about that, and it's a song about flourishing and flying and to myself, a little princess.
So last question. Is God gay or trans, maybe?
Oh, God is everything. God is queer. God is trans. Yes. God is all the things. That's the point.
Interviews by Ernesto Arambatzis