DJ Grant “GRiZ” Kwiecinski is a rare voice for the LGBTQ community in contemporary electronic music, which has very few queer role models.
The out gay 20-something from Southfield, Mich., has never apologized for being what he is. After he came out in a 2017 op-ed for Huffington Post, the electronic producer partnered with Dan Savage’s It Gets Better foundation, and the next year he was named Michigan’s Face of Pride by USA Today for Pride 2018. No stranger to giving back, last December marked GRiZ’s fifth annual GRiZMAS celebration, a 12-day event in Detroit he created that raises funds for music education in public schools.
“I feel like if you’re in a position to be of service to your community it’s kind of your responsibility,” the DJ says. “We’ve got to help our people if we want a to see a better world. Personally, I just want to help. It breaks my heart to see people struggle. The kids are our future. We should give them as many platforms and resources to be healthy and thrive. It Gets Better provides that and connects queer people. They build community and create safe spaces to facilitate growth. I’m all about that! What a blessing that other people, queer or allies, are into supporting those efforts.”
GRiZ’s passion is palpable in his music, an outlet he describes as “super liberating.” These days he’s hoping to expand his limits and “create more space for me to be creative and focus on the things that matter most to me,” he explains. “Running a business is important for the sustainability of my career, but it takes balancing that with personal time. Self-care is something that I feel like a lot of us neglect and I’m working towards understanding and practicing what that means for me.”
The artist is also aware that by working with legendary rappers like Snoop Dogg, he’s slowly merging the gap between the hip hop world and its acceptance of LGBT artists.
“These guys just don’t care,” he says of the roster of legends he’s produced alongside. “They have gay friends, are allies, etc. But sometimes you hear gay jokes or framing of being gay as lame, weak, or ‘wrong.’"
"So to me it is massively important to support those who are trying to set a good example for gay culture," he continued. "[Y]ou’ve got to fight ignorance... [I’m] trying to do my part to show people that queer culture is dope.”