Queer Community

RoyalTea: Rebel Kings of Oakland

First or third Wednesday of any month and you and your friends found yourself in the North East Bay with nothing to do?  Hop on the 6 and head on down to the White Horse, the oldest continuously operating LGBT+ bar in the United States. There you’ll find a packed venuw filled with cracking pool balls, the happy buzz of friendly people, and… someone thrusting their fanny pack at you.  You look around but the eye contact is unavoidable.

You just met VERA, one of the members of the Bay Area’s largest drag king collective – the Rebel Kings of Oakland.  From there, you’ll be eagerly ushered to the back portion of the bar where a large mass, small horde of patrons are gathered around a stage adorned which rainbow flags.

After that– who knows what you’re gonna get.  From live singing to kings lobbing candy into the audience, burlesque, gender-fuckery, and more, Rebel Kings brings an open platform to performance artists of all shapes and sizes for what always promises to be a night of humor, intrigue, and quite probably some nudity. …

Oaklash: the Bay Area’s love letter to eclectic drag

Two PM comes around in a classic car showcase warehouse and it echoes –

“Everybody, welcome to the show!”

Alaska Thunderfuck’s ‘HIEEE’ fills Classic Cars West on an unsuspecting Saturday afternoon. The famous show-opening number draws a crowd around a set stage as the notorious WooWoo Monroe kicks off the second annual Oaklash drag festival.

Born in 2018, Oaklash celebrated its second year over April’s last weekend. It kicked off with an opening night party Friday at Eli’s Mile High Club where performers and live bands gave the Bay a small taste of what was to come over the next two days.

After Monroe’s lip-synced instructions of flash photography being absolutely mandatory and tipping these [performers], the day kicked off its first set. With about five performances clocking in at half an hour and a DJ set filling the next half, each eight-hour day allowed over 50 Bay Area local and visiting artists to grace the stage – the festival hosted over 100 performers, vendors, photographers, bands, and more.

Queeries got the chance to sit down with a myriad of incredible individuals all working with the festival in one way or another and, phew, does it take a village. …

Pansexuality in Schitt’s Creek: A Win for Represenation

How is everyone’s beautiful day/night/evening/morning/afternoon/twilight going? Wonderful! Well, mine is just fantastic, thank you for asking. Why is it so fantastic you may ask? Oh haha ta hee ha. Let me tell you. Because of a very special TV show called “Schitt’s Creek.”

Coming Out For Someone Else

Don’t

That’s the short answer. Of course, it isn’t as simple as that. Being a member of the LGBTQIA+ community and living a thrilling, freeing gay life every day, you start to pick up some skills. One of those is picking out your fellow brothers and sisters before you’ve even met them. What I’m talking about is a “gaydar.” It’s a popular phrase, coined somewhere in the 1990s, but some say it was first heard in the show “Futurama.” I tried to do some research, but it was all very limited. So if you find out where it comes from, let me know. But back to this article! A gaydar is a tool one possesses in sensing someone else’s sexuality. I’m sure if you’re reading this blog, you know exactly what I’m talking about. But if you don’t – it might be time to get out of the house more often – but I’ll do you a favor this time and help you out a little bit.

Media Review: “It’s Okay to Be Gay” – Doug Armstrong

In a new comedy EP, Doug Armstrong sings the kinds of songs we can relate to.

Doug Armstrong’s debut comedy EP “It’s Okay to Be Gay” is quite the joyride. From beginning to end it is filled with light-hearted, positive humor that can make any confident, gay man like myself want to shout from a rooftop “I like dick, balls and bum!” – a line from the “What I Like About Guys,” the last song on the EP. Each song sends off a positive message and informs the public of the daily struggles of what gay men go through.

You Deserve To Exist

I know what it’s like to be,

Queer & Afraid.

They say you are strong,

Brave.

But right now, you are not.

It’s okay to take shelter

In the haven of your own mind.

It’s true what they say about the closet.

Sometimes it’s easier to hide in the dark.

 

But the sun will rise,

The stars will shine.

Everyone who has feared,

Just as you have,

Has looked at the same sky.

Your eyes illuminate with wonder

Everytime you look up.

The earth will continue to move

And so will you.

 

I am your refuge.

I am here:

To listen to your words

To feel your pain

To love you.

 

Life is a kaleidoscope of memories.

Fragments of good and bad

Spun into one another,

Colliding and morphing with every twist and turn.

It looks like broken glass

Illuminated by colors and shapes

Swirling into one another.

And it’s beautiful.

 

Don’t forgot:

The only acceptance you truly need is your own.

A heart full of love shines brighter

Than a heart full of hate.

Find solace in yourself.

Be kind to your body.

Though it may be threaded

With fear.

 

Remember to feel.

You deserve what is good.

You cannot see beauty without ugly.

You cannot see strength without fear.

Life is bountiful of hope

No matter how treacherous they journey may be.

 

You are a living being. You deserve to exist.

RoyalTea: Medulla Oblongata

“That might sound a little pretentious.  Medulla’s a little pretentious, though. You can put that in.”

 

Hey all!  Welcome back for the newest installment of RoyalTea, where we corner and pester the drag performers you should be following! Performers who can thrash and bash, who aren’t afraid to get down and dirty and who DO NOT smoke cigarettes, thank you very much.

Welcome to her channel: this week, we got to interview local Hudson Valley queen, the aptly named, Medulla Oblongata (The Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End).  When you’re in her trance, she is a cone-shaped neuronal mass responsible for your autonomic (involuntary) functions ranging from vomiting to sneezing.  We sit down and discuss the chaotic and unpredictable whirling entropy that shrouds Medulla’s life.

The Virtue Of Queer Ridiculousness

The Queer Community is the ridiculousness to the Trump Administration’s wickedness

Amidst the Trump administration this Moliere quote comes to mind: “People have no objection to being considered wicked, but they are not willing to be considered ridiculous”.

The POTUS constantly tweets about his reputation, defending in particular his masculinity and intelligence in a desperate attempt to distance himself from all ridicule, while actively refusing to deny his cruelty or offer apology for copious instances of sexual assault, racism, ableism, homophobia, etc. Trump’s commitment to preserving his ego paired with his lack of empathy, particularly towards marginalized groups is indicative of toxic masculinity.

Amidst this political climate I’ve found myself reflecting on the virtue of queer ridiculousness. I used to view the word “ridiculous” as a pejorative adjective since it is human nature to avoid becoming a laughingstock, yet as I grew more aware of LGBTQ+ history and culture, I discovered multitudes of individuals who embraced eccentricities as a means for queer self-expression.

A Long Way Yet To Go

The Town Hall’s Promotional Poster

On May 10th 2018 The Town Hall hosted a showing of the 1968 film The Queen to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the pre-Stonewall “Miss All-American Camp Beauty Pageant” hosted by widely beloved transcestor Mother Flawless Sabrina (AKA Jack Doroshow) as a celebration of her life and legacy. This triumphant gathering of community centered Queer history while encouraging future generations to go forth reveling in their queerness. In her introduction Zackary Drucker commended Mother Flawless Sabrina for her fearlessness and work towards queer visibility while speaking truthfully about how the LGBTQ+ community still “has a long way yet to go”.

My introduction to Mother Flawless Sabrina was not that of the grand dame impresario portrayed in the film, but as a patron saint of the ridiculous, so to see her depicted, as Drucker commented, as a “no-nonsense businessman” painted a fuller portrait of the person whose legacy I personally celebrated by repping her iconic sharpied-on poinsettia red lips. In this way The Queen illustrated the sort of relativism one of Mother Flawless Sabrina’s proteges Taylor Mac often highlights in judy’s work.

The Queen 1968 film poster

Much of Mother Flawless Sabrina’s presence in the film portrays her as micromanaging, her mothering less soft and nurturing and more strict and assertive. One scene shows Doroshow militantly commanding the ensemble by shouting choreography above the blaring patriotic red-white-and-blue fanfare.

Although Flawless Sabrina, then only 24 years old, is surely a formidable figure, the main focus of the film is on the pageant contestants and the lead up to the announcement of the winner.

Audiences laughed and applauded the events on screen that occurred on the stage before us while seated where the likes of Edie Sedgwick and Andy Warhol sat. Yet unfortunately included in these intergenerational echoes were still-pervasive issues of racism, colorism, and body-shaming.

One contestant, a plus size-queen with commendable musical theatre chops is given screen-time shown rehearsing their brilliant rendition of the song ‘Honey Bun’ from South Pacific, yet when revealed that they’re uncomfortable competing in the swimsuit portion of the competition it’s framed as if they never stood a chance against the others in spite of their talent.

That moment goes by quickly and doesn’t take much to miss, but the scene that went down in infamy and represents a more brazen form injustice is the way in which Crystal Labeija’s objection to the pageant winner is portrayed.

The aforementioned “long way yet to go” was addressed directly by the words and performance of The House of Labeija. They objected to the racism seen in how Crystal was dismissed and framed as overly dramatic and confrontational for confronting discrimination, while the crowned winning queen, Harlow, a blonde bambi-eyed ingenue spent much of the film crying and framed as a victim to Crystal’s alleged aggression.

The House Of Lebeija Reenacting Crystal’s Rant (Photo by Tracy Ketcher)

Crystal Labeija spent her life under scrutiny of white gaze, often facing unforgivable racism from pageant judges, yet her tirade, although framed as mean-spirited and bitter in the film, actively acknowledges that Harlow is merely a product of a system of beauty standards that prioritizes whiteness and is not inherently cruel herself, albeit unequivocally undeserving.

Crystal Lebeija Responding To Harlow

As the performers of The House of Labeija spoke up about how they agreed that Mother Flawless Sabrina rigged the pageant, I could hear murmurs from people around me, uncomfortable that anyone would speak ill of the dead, as if snidely laughing at Crystal’s anger wasn’t equally disrespectful to groundbreaking queer ancestor deserving of honor.

There is still a long way yet to go.