Louisville Magazine

SEP 2018

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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84 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 9.18 they're still experimenting with, which goes something like, "You're a faggot like me, and I'm a faggot like you!" He told Forester he'd never felt so seen. "What you're doing is so much more powerful than just you playing music," he said. "What you're doing is helping people in ways you'll never know." It's something Forester hadn't anticipated when she first started putting GRLwood together by herself, improvising with her guitar in a garage space at her mom's place, where she was crashing on the floor in the spare room. She recorded some ideas on her phone and never thought of them as anyone's but hers. She ended up picking the name GRLwood over Lady Boner because the latter seemed too beholden to punk; GRLwood sounded like it could handle her full range, from spacey soundscapes to poppy rock to screamo. (She still makes pop music she doesn't share with anyone.) One day, Ledford's mom, a teacher, mentioned the possibility of GRLwood playing some kid-friendly music for children, and Forester came up with an alternative, rated-G name: Lady Lady. When GRLwood played a show, and a bunch of probably queer kids younger than Forester started yelling back Vaccines! Made me! GAY! so loud she couldn't hear herself singing it, she knew the band was bigger than her. One woman had told me that every GRLwood show is a community, and another had said, "eir shows are one of the first places I have felt comfortable and safe with my body. And no matter what I'm wearing or showing, I feel totally free to dance." But I didn't expect to feel that kind of inclusion from them on a personal level. We were sitting outside Open one day in July. Misfits breezed out from the echoing, concrete-floored gallery space and into the parking lot, adjacent to a boxing gym. Forester's roommates — the 20-something curator of Open, whose political affiliation is listed on Facebook as "anarchist"; and another young guy called "Sage," whom I've never seen wearing shoes — were probably around somewhere. Signs outside advised passersby that there was no longer a tattoo shop around. It had been a front for a brothel, according to Forester. Ledford lit up a Parliament. We'd been talking outside for hours. I wanted to ask about both of their coming-out stories. But Forester surprised me by flipping the question on me: "What's yours?" she said. I'm from southeastern Kentucky, so I told them I was your typical closeted little holler queer. "Little holler queer!" Ledford said. "I'm gonna steal that." All three of us had known since we were about eight, but I hadn't been able to understand it, I told them, because it didn't seem possible to be gay — I didn't even know what it was. "Same!" Ledford said, and Forester nodded. I told them some friends had been accepting on the face of it but implicitly not-so-cool with my stepping out of masculine norms. I told them I let my dad die last November without ever telling him. We sat with that for a while. We drifted inside. e gray-and-white cat Ledford rescued from Craigslist moseyed over from the pool table on the far side of the room. I turned my tape recorder off, put my notebook down and sat at the old upright in the corner. e hammers were exposed, a few keys stuck down, and the strings were about as in tune as a carburetor, but I managed to plunk out what I could remember of Debussy's "Reverie." Ledford and Forester started talking about how hard it is to be yourself in a world that wants to categorize everyone. "Just be yourself!" Forester said. Maybe five other people came over, a few at a time. At one point, Ledford and Forester lay down together on a rug. "Isn't it funny how all gay people can tell if other people are gay?" one person said, and we all laughed at how true it was. is is a GRLwood show, I realized. A GRLwood show is feeling at home when home, well, isn't. A couple weeks later, I played saxophone with GRLwood at Kaiju. "We've decided you have to have a stripe if you play with us," Ledford said before the set. I hunkered down to Forester's level, so she could paint it on. When she was done, she shot me a sinister grin and chanted, "One of us! One of us!" After their typically kneecap-shattering punk fest, they brought me onstage to play some of the prettier, more ambient music they've been working on. Here, too, they created space for me, musical THIS IS A GRLWOOD SHOW, I REALIZED. A GRLWOOD SHOW IS FEELING AT HOME WHEN HOME, WELL, ISN'T.

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