In the middle of a long and heavy week (or year, for that matter) joy found an outlet at Tulips FTW The Here to Stay art market took over the Near Southside venue for the evening, bringing out queer folks from across North Texas to sell their art, listen to music, and mostly just hang out.
This was the second Here to Stay event at Tulips. Founder Max Benedict created the organization after realizing a need for more spaces prioritizing LGBTQ+, disabled, and BIPOC folks in North Texas. He’s held the art markets all across the region.
For many of the artists, the markets provide a much-needed sense of community. Kieran Grey Shelley has driven as far as 90 minutes to set up shop. He said he sometimes loses money after factoring in gas used, but he continues to come.
“I’ve never felt so accepted at an art market,” he said. “This is how I connect.”
Shelley creates art around his experience as a transmasc lesbian in a small town. His collages are filled with “rage and sadness,” he said, but also joy.
Other artists also spoke about how unique it was to have a place to come and feel accepted and meet like-minded individuals.
Artist Amy Long said they liked seeing queer young people embracing themselves so openly.
“When I was younger, we didn’t even have the term nonbinary,” they said. “I just love seeing them able to express themselves in a way that took me so much longer. It really excites me.”
Long recently quit their job to free up more time for creating art. They specialize in bedazzling objects (sunglasses, shoes) and making whimsical jewelry.
Throughout the event, revelers jammed to the music, meandered through the booths, and caught up over vegan soul food courtesy of Kay Baby’s Vegan as the sun set over the Fort Worth skyline.
Organizer Benedict regularly checked in with artists and guests, all smiles.
“We really just need a place where people can have fun and just exist,” he said.
Did you miss out? Not to worry. Here to Stay will host Wednesday LGBTQ+ art markets at Tulips about once a month. The group also puts on the events at other spots across North Texas. Visit @LGBTQHeretoStay.