WRITTEN BY: Samantha Sullivan
Everyone has that band that changes everything. That band whose music feels like magic, that has you stealing setlists and analyzing lyric sheets, sparking an absolute devotion that makes you want to create something just as life changing. However in a city like Philadelphia with 400,000 people living below the poverty line, that dream often goes unrecognized for those choosing between buying a guitar and paying rent. Enter Alexa Korogodksy and her efforts to redistribute instruments throughout the community with an emphasis on QTBIPOC people.
Samantha Sullivan: WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO HAVE THIS INSTRUMENT DRIVE?
Alexa Korogodksy: I had bought a new guitar and quickly realized that I had too many and had to get rid of at least 1. I decided to post it for free in the Queer Exchange Philly group with priority to QTPOC. I got way more responses than I was expecting, and I felt like there was a real need for instruments in the community, especially right now.
SS: HOW IS IT GOING SO FAR? ARE YOU SUPRISED BY THE AMOUNT OF DONATIONS YOU’VE RECEIVED/SUPPORT YOU’VE GOTTEN?
AK: It’s going really well. I’ve never done anything like this before, so I didn’t really know what to expect. I’ve had a few people ask me what organization I was with, but it’s just me, trying to do something “low-key”. The thing I was most surprised about was the amount of strangers volunteering to donate their time to drive around and skill to repair for free.
SS: HOW DO YOU THINK MUSIC WOULD BE DIFFERENT IF MORE PEOPLE HAD EQUAL ACCESS TO INSTRUMENTS?
AK: Every musician plays a sound we’ve never heard before. The possibilities are endless. Hip hop is just 1 prime example of what has been able to make it to the mainstream once musical instruments/technology were redistributed.
SS: WHEN DID YOU GET YOUR FIRST INSTRUMENT? WHO GAVE IT TO YOU? HOW HAS MAKING MUSIC IMPACTED YOU?
AK: I was about 10 when my uncle gave me my first electric guitar. Songwriting and playing music has definitely pushed me through some rough patches in my life. It’s therapeutic and electrifying all at once.
SS: THE DEADLINE TO DONATE IS AUGUST 15, BUT EVEN AFTER HOW CAN WE CONTINUE TO SUPPORT QTBIPOC ARTISTS?
AK: Support your QTBIPOC neighbors. Follow them on social media, buy their art, support their businesses. Offer your box of art supplies you don’t use, or that camera collecting dust, your old tool box. There’s always something that someone has 2 of that someone could maybe turn into a career, or just makes life a little easier/more fun. Follow up on bail funds and fundraisers, sign petitions, and vote.
SS: HOW DO YOU FIND PEOPLE TO REDISTRIBUTE THE INSTRUMENTS TO?
AK: So far I’ve been getting a lot of requests through the poster on Facebook and Instagram. If I get something that hasn’t been requested, I post it on the Philly Queer Exchange page on Facebook. That has worked out pretty well so far, but we’re still early on and most of the instruments are not yet at the standard I’ve set for redistribution.
SS: WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE QTBIPOC ARTISTS?
AK: That’s hard to say, cause it’s such an underrepresented group. As far as actors go, I love Laverne Cox, Indya Moore, and pretty much the whole cast of Pose. Tracy Chapman is a favorite black queer musician.
SS: HOW CAN WE MAKE THE PHILADELPHIA SCENE MORE INCLUSIVE? WHAT STEPS CAN WE TAKE AS CONSUMERS AND CREATORS TO HELP QTBIPOC PEOPLE FEEL HEARD AND WELCOMED?
AK: I’m a big believer in working on a personal level. There are actions that anyone can take that will individually make at least a single person’s life better. Invite them to open mic nights, offer to be there with them even if you’re not a musician. Be a support system and encourage them to keep going. Go to their gigs, pay for their merch, offer sliding scales to acknowledge your privilege.
SS: WHAT ARE YOUR HOPES FOR THE PEOPLE THAT RECEIVE THESE INSTRUMENTS?
AK: I’d love for them to feel a sense of hope in their community, cause there are people looking for them and this has been a great example of the excitement to help make a difference. I’d hope that someone can be the next queer Quest Love, queer Thundercat, queer Tank and the Bangas, or even queer Chuck Berry. We need more famous queers!
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO DONATE AN INSTRUMENT OR ARE INTERESTED IN RECEIVING ONE PLEASE REACH OUT TO @AKOROGODSKY ON INSTAGRAM OR ALEXA KOROGODSKY ON FACEBOOK. ANY CASH DONATIONS CAN BE SENT TO @ALEXAKOROGODSKY ON VENMO.