Youth drag show is "a night for everyone."
For Emily Stern, one of the most exciting aspects of Saturday night’s Stonewall Youth Drag Extravaganza will be watching the generations interact. “It’s great, because we’ll see (Seattle drag troupe) the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and then a 16-year-old doing drag for the first time on the same stage,” said Stern, who is known in the community as Spider. “It’s mentors, historians and youth, all sharing the stage and inspiring each other.”
The Stonewall Youth Drag Extravaganza celebrates its third year Saturday with a cabaret-style evening of entertainment that includes both drag and non-drag acts. A rock concert will follow, featuring Madame Morte, the King Cobra and Vicious White Lies. The event, staged by the 30-year-old Stern, will benefit the Olympia-based Stonewall Youth, a nonprofit outreach and advocacy group for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered and questioning people 21 and younger. Audience members should expect to see a wide variety of performers and performances, said Jen Symmonds, one of the 15 teen volunteer organizers. “There’s some dance acts, some people (lip-syncing) to songs, some bands playing, spoken word, an art show,” said Symmonds, 18. “It’s a fun, safe event that’s open to everybody.”
A former education and outreach coordinator for Stonewall Youth, Stern said the drag show is meant to empower gay teens. “It’s really about helping youth figure out that their voice is important, no matter what society tells them,” said Stern. “I like the show because it involves art, performance, gender and freakiness.”
And while drag is often considered a gay genre, “the nature of gender exploration doesn’t necessarily have a sexual preference,” Stern said. “This is a night for everyone, not just for gay people. We’re dealing with some universal concepts and ideas as well as specifically queer ideas.” Over the years, Stern has watched some of the teens blossom as they’ve worked on the show. “They’ve come out of their shell and taken on more responsibility,” she said. “Their fearlessness has evolved.”
Alexxx Flint is one of those success stories. The 20-year-old will perform his original music during the show. “It’s wonderful,” Flint said. “Now I’m not shy at all. This is a special event, because it opened up my eyes and helped me become a better performer. And now, there’s no time I love more than when I’m performing.” Stern, who is also a longtime AIDS educator and activist, credits the South Sound gay community for supporting the annual drag show. “I think it’s a lot less scary (for teenagers) to come out in a community that visibly and adamantly wants to support them,” she said. “And events like this have a huge impact on the morale of youth. “They feel like they’re part of a community that cares about them, and you can’t ask for more than that.”
Ross Raihala is the entertainment editor for The Olympian and can be reached at 360-754-5406 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stonewall Youth Drag Extravaganza
What: An independently produced cabaret-style evening featuring regional gay and lesbian youth and other performers. A rock show will follow, featuring Madame Morte, the King Cobra and Vicious White Lies.
When: 8 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Capitol Theater, 206 Fifth Ave. E., Olympia.
Tickets: $8 for adults (additional donations encouraged) and pay-what-you-can for youth. Proceeds benefit Stonewall Youth.
For details: Call 360-870-3018, or e-mail email@example.com.