Fuse is celebrating Pride Month by looking at a variety of rising forces who are creating Future LGBTQ History before our eyes. New Orleans' own Big Freedia started out performing at local bounce music shows in the late '90s, right as the sound started to creep beyond the Louisiana bayous. Today the openly gay rapper with the best weaves this side of the Mississippi is the face and voice of bounce around the world, and star of Fuse's most successful series to date, Big Freedia Bounces Back (formerly Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce).
Freedia's debut on the bounce scene was part of a movement of LGBTQ performers gaining notoriety. Katey Red, a transgender performer and huge inspiration to Freedia, released her first album in 1999 and is credited as birthing the "sissy bounce" sound. It's because of artists like Katey, Freedia and Sissy Nobby that it's common today to see a mix of LGBTQ and straight performers on bounce show lineups.
While some LGBTQ bounce artists take pride in "sissy bounce," Freedia doesn't believe LGBTQ performers need to be separated to shine. "I'm a gay rapper...But there's no such thing as separating it into straight bounce and sissy bounce. It's all bounce music," Freedia says in the book Floodlines: Community and Resistance from Katrina to the Jena.
Freedia's fortitude to do her own thing and not be boxed into other people's definitions is part of why she's so inspiring. While Freedia doesn't identify as trans, she also doesn't subscribe to gender norms regarding clothing and makeup and her preferred pronouns are "she"/"her." However, Freedia has said multiple times she's comfortable with fans using either male or female pronouns to refer to her.
When speaking to Fuse for our Future Black History celebration earlier this year, Freedia says growing up she saw being black, gay and overweight as struggles. "Once I got to a place in my life where I felt comfortable about all those things, I started to create and be myself...I took it, I flipped it and made it something positive," Freedia says.
Freedia's conscious, brave decision to love and accept herself fully is a catalyst for the self confidence we admire in her today. It's easy to figure out why people of various marginalized groups often see themselves in Freedia's journey. When she wins, we win. When she hurts, we hurt. How could anyone not be inspired witnessing Freedia's ability to live in her truth and take on life, good or bad, with such passion and joy? The best part is, it doesn't seem like the Queen of Bounce's rising star is slowing down anytime soon.
Below, watch a hilarious first-look clip from the upcoming new season showing exactly why we love Freedia and her zest for life so much, as she zip lines over Las Vegas: