Metro Weekly

Unleashed is a “gay SXSW” featuring entertainment and consumer tech

Brian Sims, Carmen Carrera, Matteo Lane, and Michael Sam will all appear at the LGBTQ interactive virtual event

Unleashed LGBTQ speakers: Gravity Balmain, Carmen Carrera, Brian Sims
Unleashed LGBTQ speakers: Gravity Balmain, Carmen Carrera, Brian Sims

A week after the mammoth South By Southwest festival and conference — taking place virtually this weekend — comes a new meeting and marketing showcase that organizers are touting as a “gay SXSW” with a spotlight on “the best in entertainment and consumer tech for those game-changers who identify as LGBTQ.”

“Our goal is to create an LGBTQ event on par with ‘South By’ with more of a focus on new and emerging brands,” Wesley Smoot, producer of Unleashed LGBTQ, says in a statement. “We’ve curated a diverse and engaging slate of brands and presenters aimed exclusively at the LGBTQ market.”

Smoot adds that the inaugural virtual event is open “to anybody and everybody who wants to attend, thereby creating a community and offering an immersive, entertaining escape to the cooped-up confines of what has been a difficult year for all of us.”

The three-day event will offer educational and informative keynote addresses and discussion panels on topics of interest to business, marketing, and nonprofit executives during the day, then switching to entertaining content in the evening, ranging from virtual fashion shows to interviews and performances to the daily Unleashed LGBTQ Happy Hour serving up craft cocktails and hot topics.

Participants include Pennsylvania State Rep Brian Sims, vogue dancer Gravity Balmain from HBO’s Legendary, actress and entrepreneur Carmen Carrera, comedian Matteo Lane, TV and film casting director Mike Page, and retired football player Michael Sam, Martin Stark of World Gay Boxing Championships.

Marketing and management professionals include Stacey Chosed of AT&T, Andy Kraut of Grindr, and Celia Sandhya Daniels of TransCanWork and Indivisible: Conejo’s LGBTQ+ Issue Action Team. Other partner brands represented at the event include AussieBum, Gilead, iHeartRadio’s PRIDE Radio, Legacy Counseling Center, RIDE BodyWorx lube, Romperjack, the Trevor Project, and Dallas’s gay He Said Magazine.

Thursday, March 25, through Saturday, March 27. All events will take place through the WebinarJam platform. Free and open to all 18 and over, with registration required. Visit

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