Girls Out Loud music festival, set for September 15 at St. Petersburg's Al Lang Field (also known as Progress Energy Park and the first concert to be held there), hopes to draw from the area’s extensive lesbian community as well as other areas of Florida. The Real L Word stars Hunter Valentine will rock the stage as headliners, and other acts include local musicians Kelly Neff, Lisa Noe, and Geri X and Miami’s All the Pretty Cars. Plus, there will be a marketplace with vendors, food and drinks, a handful of the area’s talented lesbian authors, including Lynette Mae and Tenea D. Johnson, and meet-and-greet sessions with the musical acts.
"It's all about celebration, community and culture,” said Tara Liaschenko, one of the founders of Girl2Girl.
Jan Weldon, Liaschenko's life partner of 16 years and co-founder of Girl2Girl, added, "We really wanted to create an event for all of the young women who don’t have a place to congregate."
- Girl2Girl production co-founders, from left, Danielle Seaberg, Jan Weldon, and Tara Liaschenko.
Noticing a dearth of lesbian events in the area, Liaschenko and Weldon teamed up with their friend Danielle Seaberg — who's straight and married, by the way. "We like to joke that it all started with two lesbians and a straight chick," Liaschenko said.
None of them are newcomers to organizing events. Seaberg, president of Grand Events of Florida, has been in the hospitality industry for 20 years; Liaschenko and Weldon have 25 years in the meeting and events industry collectively, co-own The Link Event Professionals, and most recently organized events for the RNC.
So as the trio brainstormed ideas for a new business venture, it was a no-brainer for them to channel this expertise and experience into their passion for the lesbian community. "We wanted to start a company where we could completely own an event, have more control over it, and do the things we really want," Liaschenko said. "And we're so loyal to the LGBT community that it made sense."
While Girls Out Loud is their kick-off event, down the road Girl2Girl will expand its offerings. They hope to offer two group trips a year — one for singles, one for couples — throwing out locales such as Puerto Rico and other islands, Mexico and Savannah as possible destinations. They also hope to see Girls Out Loud grow into several regional festivals around the Southeast. Aside from these, Liaschenko said anything is possible for the group. "We're open to [any kind of event] that's needed in the community."
But right now, their sole focus is making sure the inaugural Girls Out Loud festival on September 15 goes smoothly. "We're completely invested in this," Weldon said. "Mentally, physically and financially."
Find more information about the festival and to purchase tickets here.