By Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The William Way LGBT Community Center is kicking off what it says is the nation’s “first queer jazz festival” today in Philadelphia.

The four-day festival, called ‘Outbeat,’ includes nearly a dozen events at various venues and includes performances from great LGBT jazz artists like pianist Fred Hersch, as well as panel discussions on the intersection between jazz music, culture and LGBT history.

“For a long time being openly gay could lead to losing your job, losing your gig, losing your reputation,” says
Chris Bartlett — executive director of the William Way LGBT Community Center. “From the earliest days, jazz performers were talking about lesbian, gay and bisexual and transgender people in their song, in their lyrics and that there we performers who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender. And i think we are just getting to a place in the Black and LGBT civil rights struggle where we can talk about this history.”

Outbeat begins with a performance by Dena Underwood at the William Way Community Center.

For a list of artists and venues or to buy tickets, CLICK HERE.

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