Elisha Lim, curator of the fourth annual That’s So Gay art exhibit, chose the theme Say It to My Face because it reflects some of the difficult issues this year’s contributors address in their work. Most of the art is about struggles with such issues as racism, genocide and transphobia.
Of the 15 artists featured this year, Mohawk artists Kiley May Longboat and Ange Loft are perhaps the most striking, because their use of the macabre helps hammer home their messages. Longboat, who is trans and genderqueer and prefers the pronoun they, has long wanted to be a supermodel but worried it was an impossible goal because of prejudice. To live out this dream – and also make a point about discrimination – Longboat will appear periodically at the Gladstone in a performance art piece as a supermodel. Over the course of the exhibit, their supermodel persona will appear more ragged and dishevelled to show “the effects of prejudice and being in the public eye,” Lim says, noting that Longboat will eventually stage a fake death.
Meanwhile, Loft reflects on her Catholic upbringing on a reserve through her art piece, which is a figure of an armoured, beadwork-covered nun. “In order to make money, a lot of the women around the reserve made souvenirs for the Catholic pilgrims, and a lot of those women lost their eyesight from working with tiny beads,” Lim says.
That’s So Gay 2013: Say It to My Face opening reception is Thurs, June 27, 7-10pm. The exhibit runs Wed, June 12-Sun, July 28 in the third- and fourth-floor galleries.
Unapologetic Burlesque organizers Shaunga Tagore and Kumari Giles have worked hard to create a burlesque performance opportunity for queer people and people of colour who feel invisible or uncomfortable performing in mainstream burlesque. Their two-night showcase will include more than 20 acts, including performances by Chase Lo, Kryptonite Kunt, Prince Deep, Scorpio Rising (Tagore) and Vena Kava (Giles).
Tagore and Giles say that one way they put performers at ease is by creating mechanisms that allow people to perform on their own terms. For instance, performers can let the audience know what sort of response they’d like: clapping, whistling or even hugs, which “fosters communication, respect and enjoyment between audience and performers.”
This is particularly important at Pride, they say, where for some the celebration is overshadowed by struggles with transphobia, ableism, misogyny and other issues. “Many performers speak about how there are few performance spaces they can access like this one.”
Unapologetic Burlesque: Lost and Found: Uncovering the Spirit of Pride is Tues, June 18 and Wed, June 19, 7-11pm.
Drag queens melt in the sun, which is why Kaleb Robertson decided to hold his Pride tea dance indoors. He wanted Fay Slift and Miss Fluffy Soufflé to perform – and they need air conditioning and shade.
While they’re there, they might as well host, Robertson says, and if they’re going to host you’ve got to call the event Shady Tea since, as he puts it, “drag queens instantly make any event shadier.”
Robertson says he’s wanted to host a tea dance for years. “I’ve been to several in Provincetown and had a blast, and every year Buddies hosts Lady Oiye’s Tea Dance. I’m eager to bring one out to the west end.”
DJs Phil V and Vee Stun will provide the early-evening party’s music. “It’ll allow people to gather together in celebration, have some drinks and a great time but [since it ends at 8pm] still be able to work Monday morning. And it’s all-ages, and families are welcome,” Robertson says.
Shady Tea is Sun, June 23, 4-8pm.
When Pride rolls around, the wildly popular Steers & Queers event takes on an additional theme: Dolly Parton. For six years, DJ Sigourney Beaver has combined queers and country and western; her Dolly-themed event has become so popular that last year at least 400 attendees arrived in Dolly drag.
Revellers don’t just Dolly it up: Night of a Thousand Dollys is also kind of like a church service, a revival that conjures the spirit of Dolly. Comedian Lex Vaughn becomes Reverend Hightower. “She does this character of a reformed Southern homosexual preacher who has come to save the gays, and she leads the church in its worship of Dolly,” Beaver says, noting that those who dress up are intoxicated by Dolly’s divine presence.
“If you dress up you’re more likely to drink and have fun. There’s a certain level of commitment that comes with dressing up,” says Beaver, who will DJ alongside Joe Blow. The event will also feature performances by ManChyna and The Pining, as well as an epic look-alike contest.
Steers & Queers: Night of a Thousand Dollys is Thurs, June 27, 10pm-2am.