The Mercury's all-digital Queer Week 2020 officially kicks off this coming Monday, June 15—but we're giving you a little sneak peek today with this roundup of local drag livestreams, some of which you can enjoy this weekend!
Portland’s 2020 Pride weekend is shaking its rainbow flag at the crossroads of a global pandemic, a stay at home order, civil unrest in response to police brutality, and thundering protests that demand an end to systemic racism. But whether you’re called to action, education, or celebration, this list has something for you. Here are five ways to enjoy and be enriched by drag performance and drag performers for Portland Pride 2020.
Support Your Queer Black Entertainers
The current Miss Gay Oregon, Flawless Shade, wanted to shine a light on local Black queer performers throughout Pride month. So she curated a series of moving video testimonials called Support Your Queer Black Entertainers, and raised $2,000 to pay them for their work. Two of the videos are already up—showcasing Kisses Major Ash and Stefhannie Aria Mercury Experience DuPont, the reigning Miss and Ms. Gay Vancouver respectively.
“I have a voice and a platform so I try to use it,” Flawless Shade said in a phone interview. “Being a Black gay genderfluid person who is a drag queen, I can relate to so many different aspects of the protests happening now. We wouldn’t have Pride without a black trans woman.” [Note, in case you didn’t know: Marsha P. Johnson was a leader during the uprising at Stonewall Inn, and Pride is the anniversary of that event.] “Pride is really about fighting for your community and fighting for a voice that isn’t loud enough. This year’s Pride is less of a celebration and more of a call to action.”
Where to stream: The first two videos in this series are already streaming on Flawless Shade’s Instagram page. More videos will be added as Pride month continues.
The 1999 Portland Pride Parade and Virtual Mainstage
At the end of March, Pride NW announced that the dangers of the coronavirus made holding an actual parade this year impossible. Instead, they’ll stream archival footage of Portland’s 1999 Pride parade, which features commentary by community figure and attorney Emily Simon and drag queen Snickers LaBarr.
“Darcelle is in there,” Pride Northwest Director Debra Porta explained over the phone, “But I didn’t even recognize Darcelle until they said Darcelle’s name.”
Although a stream of the 1999 parade feels like an auspicious 20th anniversary piece, the story, according to Porta, “isn’t all that sexy.” 1999 is the only year they had! “We found a VHS, of all things, in our storage unit and got it digitized,” Porta said, adding that videographer Scott Cummins undertook the project on his own.
When asked about Pride this year, Porta remained optimistic, and proud of the events planned and the livestream of performances that will stand in for what would normally be seen at the waterfront festival downtown.
”It’s going to be easier for more people to see more Pride because they don’t actually have to travel to it. And our Saturday stream will be completely representative of queer, trans, Black and PoC voices, to center and lift up their visibility and to let them tell their own story.”
Introvert: An Online Drag Show Built Just For You
This one strikes me as the hot drag show you must not miss this weekend. Emceed by Coco Jem Holiday and Autumn Rainz Hart, this stream involves both recorded and live sets from performers like Miss Gay Oregon XLVII Flawless Shade, Mystique Summers (who you will remember from RuPaul’s Drag Race), Camp Wannakiki’s Barbra Wyre and Ivanna Some, Donatella Mysecrets, Carlee Phoenixx, a brand new group of performers called The Toybox, and many more!
Where to stream: Sat Jun 13, 6 pm, buy tickets HERE.
A Night at Darcelle XV
If Pride isn’t the same to you without a visit to Darcelle’s—the historic gay bar which hosts the longest running drag show on the West Coast—I have some good news. Pride NW teamed up with Peacock Productions to record a forbidden main stage show and stream it for fans. It’s emceed by Poison Waters and Maria Peters Lake, and you can expect performances from Devlin Lynn Phoénixx, Chance de Valmont, Summer Lynne Seasons, Nay-Nay Leakes Cartier, and many more!
Drag on Demand
For Portland Pride 2020, Kimber Shade, Mother to the Haus of Shade, planned on streaming a prerecorded collection of performances she’d worked for a month to organize.
“We were set to start promoting when the George Floyd movement happened,” Kimber Shade said via phone interview. “And we had to pause because I didn’t want to do anything that might distract from getting justice and shining light on the Black Lives Matter movement.” But the show will go on, albeit closer to the end of the month, which is good because Drag on Demand sounds like a polished, thoughtful, inclusive, and enjoyable show.
In collaboration with Beauty Boiz, a production group out of Seattle that gives creative space to queer performers, Kimber Shade put thought into every perk a prerecorded, online performance could ultilize in the digital format—from ASL interpretation and closed captions to a showcase of all different kinds of drag.
“I’m working with 41 different types of drag queens,” she said. “They’re all supporting each other and being super super kind, and that’s not something we’re always used to. This event is groundbreaking.”
When it comes to this weekend, Kimber Shade plans to spend it, “staying hydrated, being present, and preserving mental capacity for the things to come.”
Where to stream: Sun June 28; tickets will be available at beautyboiz.com.