For just over a month, drag king BJ Herdick was the face of Capital Pride. Herdick was voted Mr Capital Pride at the Capital Pride Pageant on Aug 21 and marched with the crown at the Pride parade. All that ended on Sept 24 when Capital Pride took away the title because of Herdick’s involvement in an incident at the Lookout Bar on Sept 11.
Herdick was at the bar as a member of Algonquin College’s Queer Student Association (QSA), fundraising for an upcoming drag show.
Herdick admits that he hit drag king Karter Banger in the Lookout’s washroom; when he left the washroom, he says, he was attacked by other drag kings and onlookers.
“I’m the type of person to bottle certain emotions in, and I don’t ever really remember the event taking place. I just remember little bits and pieces and what everybody else says,” says Herdick.
Another member of the QSA, Alexandra Dick, was allegedly involved in the altercation and has since been removed from her position as a vice-president of the QSA.
“The moment I hit Banger, I left,” says Herdick. “Then it was like the mob effect. As soon as she [a woman at the bar] jumped me, then a group of other people got into it.”
After the incident, Herdick says he went to the Ottawa police station to report the incident — where he ran into Banger, who, Herdick assumes, was also filing a police report.
When Herdick spoke to Xtra on Sept 24, he had not been contacted by the police but had just received news that the title of Mr Capital Pride had been revoked.
Herdick spoke to Doug Saunders, chair of Capital Pride, who informed him that, at the board of directors meeting on Sept 22, the board decided to yank the title.
“Besides the possibility of being charged, I lost my crown,” says Herdick. “They [Capital Pride] just said that that had a lot of people voicing their opinions and that it went to the police liaison committee.”
There was also a petition to strip Herdick of his crown — a Facebook page called “Fighting violence in the gay community.”
“They [Banger and a friend] put out a Facebook page about how I should lose my crown and a pretty much one-sided story on what happened, so everyone assumed I was in the wrong,” says Herdick.
The incident was also taken seriously by the president of Algonquin College’s QSA, Michelle Cooper. The QSA is a student-run association with 173 members. Over the last year, the association has worked hard at creating a safe space for queer students, and it has a zero-violence policy.
Since both Herdick and Dick were at the Lookout Bar as members of the QSA, they were both banned from the association and Dick, who was the vice-president of the association, also lost her official position.
“The vice-president was removed from her position, because at Algonquin College we have a zero tolerance proviso,” says Cooper.
For Herdick, the future is uncertain. But he is left living with the consequences of that night at the Lookout Bar.
“I am embarrassed and ashamed at what happened,” says Herdick. “For me to have hit someone is – like I have to live with that for the rest of my life…. I am disappointed my crown was taken away. But, I mean, I understand.”