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'Queen of Bounce' Big Freedia: No guns, more twerking!

Big Freedia for BAR.jpg
Brad Hebert
Big Freedia is known as the "Queen of Bounce"

Big Freedia is famous for her "bounce" music and twerking; her life story and anti-gun activism are less well known. She's on tour this month promoting her new EP, BDE — Big Diva Energy — and raising funds for Hurricane Ida relief.

Big Freedia became an anti-gun activist after her brother was killed on the streets of New Orleans in 2018. She had been shot twice herself in 2004. Music has gotten her through these and many other challenges.

The performer, author and activist talks about her bounce music, her life, her documentary, Freedia Got A Gun, and her memoir, Big Freedia: God Save the Queen Diva! on this week's Out in the Bay. You'll hear some of her bounce music - including her recent single, "Platinum" - and she gives twerking tips.

As a teen, Freddie Ross, Jr., was a choirboy, singing gospel in one of New Orleans' toughest neighborhoods. He confronted poverty, racism, homophobia, fat-phobia and street violence on his road to becoming Big Freedia, ambassador of New Orleans Bounce, expanding queer visibility along the way.

She decided to use her platform for change after her brother's killing. Her activism is chronicled in Freedia Got A Gun, a documentary The New York Times terms “a call to arms to address the gun violence epidemic in New Orleans.” Big Freedia hopes the film will draw local and national attention to the tragedies of gun violence on communities, families and individuals. “I wanted to make sure that his death was not in vain."

Big Freedia is a hip-hop artist, author, reality TV star and activist. She headlined San Francisco’s 2020 virtual Pride celebration, was the New Orleans host for 'Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year's Eve with Ryan Seacrest' Dec. 31, and served as Grand Marshal for New Orleans' 2021 Mardi Gras “parade-at-home."

Her 2015 memoir, Big Freedia: God Save the Queen Diva!, written with Nicole Balin, was re-issued in paperback in December 2020. Her documentary, Freedia Got A Gun, was released in June 2020. You can watch Freedia Got A Gun for free on Peacock, Comcast / NBCUniversal's streaming service.

This episode was produced by Kendra Klang, with sound design and editing by Porfirio Rangel.

Please help us keep bringing queer air to your ears. Out in the Bay is an independent non-profit production. Your gift will help keep LGBTQ voices and stories coming to you and others who might not be able to give. 

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Eric Jansen is a long-time broadcaster and print journalist. A former news anchor, producer and reporter at KQED FM, San Francisco; KLIV AM, San Jose; and Minnesota Public Radio, Eric's award-winning reports have been heard on many NPR programs and PRI's Marketplace. His print work has been in The Mercury News, The Business Journal, and LGBTQ magazines Genre and The Advocate, among other publications. He co-produced the June 2007 PBS documentary Why We Sing!, about LGBTQ choruses and their role in the civil rights fight.