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Beaming queer music and positivity to a global audience, Queerantine has opened a unique conduit of connection for its growing community of fans. The LGBTQ music video showcase, which just premiered its second season on livestreaming platform Twitch, was created by NYC-based singer-songwriter Kisos as a means of elevating queer artists and performers who have been hit particularly hard by the loss of live venues during the pandemic.
Kisos and Canadian artist Cory Stewart had been hard at work plotting an LGBTQ music tour, “and then all the COVID news started coming out,” Kisos says. “Cory was like, ‘Do you think we should not plan a whole tour when it looks like things might be happening in the world?’ I was like, ‘You know what? Good idea. Maybe let’s put this on hold.’ Obviously, none of us expected it to go for as long as it did, and be as deep as it’s going to be.”
Still, Kisos and Stewart remained committed to showcasing queer music acts, if not live, then digitally via Twitch, best known as a hub for gamers. “I’ve been livestreaming since 2018 on Twitch, but it was more just kind of playing games, or sometimes I would do acoustic sets,” says Kisos. “I was like, okay, what can I do that’s more of an event?” Thus, Queerantine was born — a weekly interactive, 21st-century TRL-style music video marathon, featuring Kisos and a guest host chatting alongside the latest clips by queer indie artists like Sellah, foxgluvv, and Teacup Dragun.
In addition to serving up fresh music and good vibes, episodes raise funds for causes from Black Lives Matter to trans advocacy charity G.L.I.T.S. (Gays and Lesbians Living In a Transgender Society). The focus, Kisos says, is on sharing and uplifting — Queerantine is a no-negativity zone. “At the beginning of each episode, I set some ground rules, but the ground rules are really just [that] this is the safest space, it’s the most positive space,” he says. “Not to say that everyone’s perfect or whatever. You don’t have to fake positivity, but it’s more just about focusing on what’s good. Focusing on what you like. So it’s just about appreciating everybody instead of comparing.”
Maintaining that positivity isn’t as hard as one might think, reveals the artist, who describes his recently-released second EP Sweet Nothings as “music to break your heart and heal your soul.” Queerantine just happens to attract “a super positive group, and I really don’t have to do anything. I did prep in certain weeks — like when we did, at the peak of the Black Lives Matter protests, an all-Black lineup, of all LGBTQ artists. And I was just waiting for racist, homophobic trolls to come in. But, actually, nothing happened. And it was one of our best episodes and everyone had a great time, and we raised over four thousand dollars that day. So it’s just been really surreal to see how everything fell into place without me having to try that much. Like once I set it up, everyone was there, everyone was ready to be positive. And it was amazing.”
Queerantine streams Sundays at 3 p.m. ET on Twitch. Visit www.twitch.tv/itskisos.
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