Future Women's History Month: Tegan and Sara's Push for Representation
Fuse is celebrating Women's History Month by looking at a variety of rising forces who are creating Future Women's History before our eyes. Today we’re recognizing Tegan and Sara Quin, the twin-sister musicians behind the eponymous indie-pop outfit Tegan and Sara.
The Canadian sisters started performing together in 1995 in their hometown of Calgary, and officially launched their professional career in 1998. Since then, they've toured almost non-stop, released eight studio albums and numerous EPs, collaborated with countless artists and raked in awards and honors along the way. Their DVD/live album Get Along earned them a GRAMMY nomination, and their theme song for The Lego Movie was nominated for a Best Original Song Academy Award.
From the very beginning of their careers, Tegan and Sara have both been open about being gay and have actively advocated for LGBTQ rights, amping up their efforts now that they have more fame and a wider reach. Even at the beginning of their career in the late '90s, being open about sexuality—especially sexuality that didn't fit heteronormative standards—in the indie-pop scene wasn't common.
Since the election of Donald Trump to the United States Presidency, the sisters have stepped up their efforts to help the LGBTQ community by creating the Tegan and Sara Foundation, which is aimed at supporting economic justice, health and representation for LGBTQ women and girls. Speaking to Noisey about the foundation, Tegan and Sara explained:
"Before we launched the Foundation, we used the first half of 2016 to understand the challenges within the community and what our Foundation's role would be. The data and conversations showed us that LGBTQ girls and women are underfunded, underrepresented and under researched. We've realized in the last few years that a Foundation would allow us to raise much more money than we could ever hope to by using our standard 'T-shirt drive' type fundraising. With a Foundation, we can also make sure that these funds and programs are reaching people in our community who need support! With the (at the time) possible Trump presidency looming on our minds we just had to do something to ensure we were ready to fight to protect but also prop up women and girls in our community. A Foundation allows us to be proactive rather than reactive! We can all agree that this year showed us that we need to be taking charge in shaping the kind of world we want to see."
To take it a step further, the sisters added that they're going to focus on groups that are often overlooked, like LGTBQ women of color and transgender women, who are the most marginalized and underrepresented.
The activism doesn't just stop at LGBTQ issues. Tegan and Sara haven't been afraid to call out the industry for its patriarchal tendencies. Recently, they took the Juno Awards to task for the lack of women artists nominated. The sisters put out a statement to reflect their disappointment in the amount of categories dominated by men:
"The demographic breakdown of Juno nominations reflects the structural confines of our society and industry. We must do better as it sends an outdated message to the next generation about whose art and voice and message is valuable."
For all that they've done to push queer artists into the mainstream, the sisters still realize that there's much more work that needs to be done to make sure that every person, no matter how they identify, is represented. Below, watch Tegan and Sara reflect on gender norms.