Tegan and Sara on queer activism: ‘Dust off and get to work’


Tegan And Sara

Canadian music duo Tegan and Sara have been passionate about LGBTQ activism since the start of their careers.

But the twin sisters took it to a whole new level last December with the launch of their Tegan and Sara Foundation, which will raise funds and awareness for other organisations working to improve gender and LGBTQ equality for women.

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“LGBTQ women are experiencing disproportionately high levels of poverty, health issues and inequality,” with women of colour and transgender women the worst affected, the sisters, who are both openly gay, said when they announced the ambitious project.

So they decided to do something about it. “We’ve always done a lot of activism for women’s issues, young people and LGBTQ issues. We decided in the last couple of years that since our platform has grown we should legitimise it,” Tegan told QNews.com.au.

“Instead of doing random stuff, we could actually focus our energy and we can help really give back something major to the community.”

The Foundation convened its very first meeting last month (pictured, below), which brought together a wide variety of representatives from LGBTQ organisations, economists, health professionals, academics, business owners and artists.

“It was a lot of work to put together but it was incredible to sit back and watch all these women from all these organisations talking about their experiences,” Tegan said.

“It made me feel very hopeful. That’s been a big part of our band, since we started in the late 90s.

“A lot of LGBTQ people, particularly young women, have come to us over the years and told us how we’re role models for them and we take that very seriously. We didn’t have a lot of role models who were queer.”

17-02-22 Tegan and Sara Foundation Convening Photo by Robin Roemer

But she said they were both as shocked as anyone by the election of US President Donald Trump late last year.

“We’d just toured for three months in the US, and then the election happened. We were in Washington DC, and it was tough. After the inauguration, I was like ‘Can it get any worse?’” Tegan said.

“I still wake up every day and go, ‘What has he done now?’”

But when millions of women flooded the streets in protests the day after Trump’s inauguration in the highly-publicised “Women’s March,” they marched too.

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“For one day at least I was so proud of humanity. We marched in Los Angeles,” Tegan explained.

“We got home and found out millions marched around the world. It was a wonderful way to start the year, because it was like, f–king dust yourself off, get up and get to work.”

Tegan said they’ve seen incredible change around LGBTQ equality since the start of their career almost two decades ago, but she wanted to see more queer women on the pop music charts.

“Journalists will ask me, ‘Things have changed in music, being queer won’t hold you back,’ and I’m like, ‘Oh okay, so name some really famous queer women on pop radio.’

“I’m not trying to be confrontational, but I think this is where the inequity between men and women still remains in our community,” she said.

“There’s Sam Smith, Troye Sivan, Years and Years… It’s tremendous, and Troye is a prime example of what I think the future is, in that he’s young, his audience is young, they don’t give a s–t. Both him and Sam can make the art they want and they can have this huge fanbase and they just exist in the mainstream and it’s just f–king awesome, so we are trudging along.”

Tegan says they’re both proud to call Australia a “second home” and came here just last year after the release of latest album Love You To Death.

But they’ll be back next month for new tour dates, including a Brisbane show and also to headline the Mardi Gras Party for the first time.

“I’m thrilled [about Mardi Gras]. It was very last minute but we’re so excited because it just makes the whole trip feel so special,” Tegan said.

Tegan and Sara will perform at The Tivoli in Brisbane on March 6. For more information about the Tegan and Sara foundation, visit the website.

(Tegan and Sara Foundation photo by Robin Roemer)

For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.