Mariah Hanson is the mastermind behind the Dinah Shore Weekend, the largest and longest running lesbian event in the world. She’s known for her ongoing commitment to amplifying, championing, and celebrating women’s voices and talent.
Hanson has single-handedly revolutionized her industry, overturned tradition, and raised the bar on female achievement with an event that is entirely produced by women, for women. Everything single aspect of the event is run by women: from the staff, the managers, the drivers and bartenders to the artists headlining every year.
Hanson has rightfully so become an influential, trailblazing voice in the LGBTQ community and an inspiration for queer women. We chatted with her about herself and her involvement in the community.
Describe yourself in a six-word sentence.
Introverted extrovert committed to positive change.
What was the last thing you shared on social media?
A post about my mother’s activism in the civil rights movement. My mother revered Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and fought tirelessly for equality during the turbulent ’60s. She walked the walk every minute of her life and even into her nineties would get into great debates with conservatives. And Lord, could she defend a stance.
The photo I posted on Facebook showed her and my sister Kathleen. My sister left college to go to Selma to work as a staff member for the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In the picture, they were protesting Goldwater at the 1964 GOP Convention in San Francisco.
I’m proud to see that today, I am living the dream my mother had for me: to lobby for a society that embraces all people.
What do you think is the main challenge facing LGBTQ people in our community?
What is important is for all of us to always celebrate and embrace our identity. Be authentic—always speak our truth and be true to who we are.
The Dinah has always stood for living out loud in celebration of our unique, diverse, and incredible lives. I’m passionately dedicated to bringing talent to the Dinah who express this message so our customers can be inspired and empowered and go home and put that conviction into action.
Also, I’d like to see us focus more on Women Empowerment. It is enormously important to celebrate and raise the visibility of women breaking glass ceilings, especially within our own community, because we need to be reminded that we are strong, capable, united, and powerful in a time when our voices—especially spoken in unity—are needed more than ever before. Year after year, the Dinah continues to affirm its unwavering commitment to focus on the power of women to create big and lasting change.
What is your favorite LGBTQ business where you live?
Lisa Kristine’s Fine Art Gallery in Sonoma, California. She shoots the lives of indigenous people of India, Nepal, and surrounding countries and captures the essence of a people, a landscape, culture frozen in motion. She is a huge advocate of the prevention of slavery in these countries, so her voice is critical to the visibility of this insidious and heartbreaking practice.
What advice do you have for people looking to start queer events?
Are you sure you want to do that? Be passionate and never compromise who you are and what you believe in.