What started last year as a hazy late-night group conversation during a television commercial break eventually became a music festival: SnipFest. The subject under discussion was a friend’s out-of-pocket expenses for top surgery. Several of us being musicians, we decided to do the only thing we knew (besides our food service jobs) and said, “Let’s throw together a benefit show.” We added a second beneficiary and dates in Orlando and Miami. It could easily have been a slow night at St. Augustine’s Sarbez, playing to a bar crowd and pulling in $100. Instead, support from artists, friends and the LGBTQ+ community (with which we proudly identify) turned last year’s inaugural SnipFest into a true event. (For anyone curious, the commercial break was during Jeopardy, and Watson most likely won.)
SnipFest is a community-driven festival that celebrates everything and everyone under the LGBTQ+ umbrella through art and music. The goal is to promote inclusivity beyond mere tolerance by making unforgettable shows that include local vendors, live music, drag shows and safe spaces for us to celebrate who we are. Our grassroots committee relies entirely on donations, meaning no one will ever be turned away at the door. The proceeds help fund top surgeries for trans youth (such surgeries range from $3,500-$9,000).
Last year we held shows in three cities—Saint Augustine, Orlando and Miami—and raised $1,800, which was split between two recipients. We are incredibly proud to note that one of those recipients was able to go ahead with the surgery.
Since the inaugural festival went better than we expected—and artists, venues and other organizations across Florida have heeded the call to be a part of this second edition—it makes sense to do it bigger and better this year. We are grateful to Planned Parenthood for promoting and tabling SnipFest. This year, the festival expands to five cities: Gainesville and Orlando (Oct. 4), Tallahassee and Miami (Oct. 5) and Jacksonville (Oct. 6). BeBe Deluxe hosts the hometown event, which takes place at Rain Dogs in Five Points and features music by Geexella, GILT, sleepless, Quarter Roy, Yellow Steve and Doré.
To return the festival’s raison d’être, gender dysphoria is akin to feeling like a stranger in your own body, both emotionally and psychologically. For those who don’t know what that feels like, imagine the more familiar sensation of body dysmorphia—the feeling of being dissatisfied with parts of your body. That’s a small slice of gender dysmorphia. Communities should help people achieve their ultimate goal, to be who and what they want to be. This begins with social interactions. Try incorporating the singular pronouns they/them into your vocabulary for people you don’t know too well. It may help to brighten someone’s day. In some cases, however, surgery is the only solution to gender dysmorphia. It can even be life-saving.
We want anyone who may read this to know that you’re not alone. There are people across Florida (and around the world) who support you being you. For anyone who may feel they experience gender dysphoria, or who are just curious about LGBTQ+ matters in general, get in touch with JASMYN. The Jacksonville Area Sexual Minority Youth Network is a not-for-profit youth services organization for LGBTQ+ people ages 13-23. I know from personal experience that the folks at JASMYN are kind-hearted and devoted people who are here specifically for you. For anyone who wants to show their support, see you at SnipFest.
Tilley is a musician and contributing writer to Folio Weekly.