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Untitled (America) Is Our Future (?)

EDITORIAL

Untitled (America)

Is Our Future (?)

sidewalkkilla

Brooklyn-based drag artist Untitled Queen offers a glimpse at a new America, through her July 4th digital fundraiser.

No one could have predicted

That the new decade

Would start off the way that it did.


As most of the world was put under coronavirus-related lockdown, the landscape of our day-to-day lives started shifting. It wasn’t a “free” world anymore as we knew it – perspectives on what’s important started changing, and it seemed that the value of human connection finally started outweighing the value of clout and material things. People started missing things that they had taken for granted, like seeing your abuela or walking down a crowded street.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic that has claimed so many elderly and immuno-compromised lives, another pandemic has long been present in the US for over 400 years which has also claimed countless lives. A pandemic that doesn’t care about your age, gender, or the status of your immune system – it only cares about the color of your skin. It’s not that systemic racism was news, like the outbreak of this strain of the SARS virus that was named COVID-19, it’s just that a combination of unfortunate events happening all at the same time made people say, “Enough.”

The shooting of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery while out on a jog, the killing of George Floyd by a cop kneeling on his neck, and then a video of a white woman, Amy Cooper, calling cops on a Black man and pretending she was attacked, fueled the fire that has yet to be stopped. Large-scale protests and rallies, some of which turned violent, erupted all over the country, sparking the conversation about racial injustice not only in the US, but all over the world. It’s a month into the protests and there is no end in sight. People are demanding real change. Even though the mass outrage has yielded some fruitful results – such as the arrest of all 4 cops involved in George Floyd’s murder, NYC’s section 50-a repeal, and Colorado’s police reform bill signed into law – the officers that killed young EMT worker Breonna Taylor in her own home are still walking free, and there are many other police officers on the job that have yet to be held accountable for their abusive actions. And while certain municipalities have promised to defund and/or shift police budgets (LAPD slashed by $150 million, NYC slashed by $1 billion), in general the local and federal government have yet to meet the Black Lives Matter movement’s demands regarding defunding the police.

Enough

For the most part of the spring it was all about supporting LGBTQIA+ creatives that were suddenly out of work due to the coronavirus, with no means to apply for unemployment; right now it’s all about supporting Black and grassroots organizations. Even though it’s still far from possible for NY nightlife to resume with the normal pace of operations in physical venues, nightlife hosts and performers have carved out an online niche as the means for raising money for needed causes. For example, one of NYC’s nightlife impresarios, Susanne Bartsch, collected $32,000 for the Black Lives Matter movement during one of her On Top virtual parties. Ceyenne Doroshow, the founder of G.L.I.T.S. (Gays and Lesbians Living In a Transgender Society) secured over $1 million in donations for permanent housing for Black trans people, all thanks to the power of the internet.

Untitled Stitched

Amongst the sea of virtual fundraisers promoted all over social media, one particular event, hosted by drag artist Untitled Queen, stands out on its own. Brooklyn-based Untitled has a master’s degree in fine arts and puts on meticulously executed poetic performances that are as profound as they are beautiful. On July 4th, she will be hosting her own version of a fundraiser, an all-captioned digital drag show named Untitled (America).

We’re doing this fundraiser on the Fourth of July because it denotes the mass genocide and displacement of indigenous peoples and then of course enslavement and oppression of Black people in the creation of this country,” says Untitled on why she chose that specific American holiday as the date for the show. The show’s lineup is fully composed of drag artists of color, each representing the US state/territory in which they currently reside. There are four indigenous drag artists amongst the 52 scheduled acts.

A charity that Untitled decided to benefit is the Navajo Water Project, which is an indigenous-led, community-managed utility alternative that brings hot and cold running water to indigenous communities in Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. Untitled adds, “Every year I do this one big fundraiser called the Brooklyn Ball, for Callen-Lorde Community Health Center. They do get a lot of funding but it’s still a really important cause. Some of my smaller fundraisers are for more local organizations that are lesser known, and that are not getting any national aid or big corporate sponsorship, and the Navajo Water Project is one of them.”

Lynn Troller

It seems that for Untitled, it always came as second nature to be a patient learner and a compassionate advocate for inclusivity. Untitled Queen is adamant about adding captions to all of her videos and encourages others to do the same, “I became more aware of deaf and hard-of-hearing communities as well as accessibility, because I went to the drag scene in Rochester. They have a huge deaf community because of their deaf interpreter school. And so when I went to do their show, their shows were completely live-interpreted all the time and they had a big deaf community in their queer club. They were interpreting and signing and I was like, whoa, I’ve never seen this before. That night I met a deaf drag queen. I’ve never met a deaf drag queen before. I was so stunned by that. I feel like in New York we think we’re really ahead of the curve in a lot of ways and we’re not. So then I started to learn more about deaf culture. Deaf culture loves drag, loves queer culture, just as much as anyone else. I realized, why would you go to a drag show or any live event if you’re not being encouraged to be welcomed there. So that’s when I started to get really passionate about it.”

Ricky Rosé

Cherub Borne

Untitled has also become very interested in learning more about community-organizing aspects such as fundraising and charitable efforts. She says that uplifting and focusing on brown and Black voices has always been a part of her community in the Brooklyn drag scene, “I’ve always tried to challenge myself to widen the understanding of what community means, what it looks like and how to increase accessibility on lots of different levels, and I always realize how much more you can be challenging yourself to really understand what those ideas are about. Lady Quesadilla is a friend of mine and is another amazing drag queen and she’s been saying this stuff for years. In her pre-show speeches she’d always say, ‘We need to question what our community boundaries are, your community doesn’t look like you. Your community is the homeless, people with disabilities, the incarcerated. What are you doing for your community?’  And now its resonating with me even more hardcore. I want to also be an example for people to really acknowledge their complicity, acknowledge that you have something to work on. It’s not like, ‘Oh, I just do these parties so I’m exempt from this conversation.’”

Anya Knees

In a recently resurfaced clip from a 1992 episode of Golden Girls, Blanche Deveraux is challenged by then up-and-coming actor Don Cheadle, when she proudly hangs up a Confederate flag at a party and defends it as a family heirloom and a reminder of the good ole days. After a few rebuttals from Don Cheadle’s character, Blanche finally concedes,

“…Everything that I grew up believing in, all of my wonderful memories, they are tarnished now by the truth.”

Fragility seems to be another topic associated directly with people’s resistance to change and progress, and is something that Untitled is familiar with as a light-skinned Puerto Rican and Filipino descendant, “Everybody who’s not Black and who’s not indigenous is in some proximity to white supremacy and white privilege. I feel like people of color that are non-Black often feel defensive because it feels like it diminishes our struggles or our shared feelings of oppression. I feel like I felt that in other people and even in myself. I feel like I’ve come to the realization that it’s not the same at all and that is the big distinction. I think that we are not exempt from the white supremacy machine. The only people that aren’t in proximity to whiteness are Black people and indigenous people. So that’s where I feel like we should recognize that we have the advantages, because of how we look… Being a non-Black, non-indigeous PoC doesn’t exempt you from having to work to dismantle white supremacy. I think it’s often an assumption that being a PoC means we share the same struggle as Black and indigenous people. We don’t, because we still benefit from white supremacy, and therefore still have privilege and work to do.

A fine arts background served as an inspiration to Untitled’s name, and it also makes perfect sense why the show was named Untitled (America): “Untitled comes from just like the sort of a beginning as an art term, sort of a blank slate and an empty line that you can fill and project and create from what’s really not a fixed point of view. I’m really interested in constant deconstructing and constructing identity that is completely fluid and that understands that all these things are fluid. To me, that is what drag really is – it’s finding that kind of a light that brings all these art forms together. Drag for me is like the quintessential form of this construction, deconstruction, challenging labels, ideas and binaries. Drag does it constantly and on a big level, in lots of different ways and with lots of different approaches. Then you realize, wow these things are everywhere – you don’t have to be any certain way. But I think drag really emphasizes that because it’s made up of all these moves that you manipulate… I think that’s what’s so exciting about the show is that there’s this whole assumption of when people say ‘America’ and they mean ‘white.’ We’re always answering the questions, ‘Where are you from? No, really. Where are you from? Where are your parents from?’ because if you are a person of color, they don’t understand that you’re an American. The assumption is that America is white and so this show is talking about that.”

Untitled (America)

“I did a vampire show and I did a whole poem number about a Filipino vampire that looks herself up on Wikipedia. She basically begins to understand who she is based on what other people have told her on the internet and there’s really not that much. There’s not many images, there’s no video and so this is a parallel about what it means to be a Philippine X, because a lot of it is told identity. Not necessarily what I reflect out.” – Untitled Queen

America ≠ white

Untitled (America)’s casting was pretty specific. Untitled Queen says that local drag is her favorite thing. She feels that what makes it so political and punk is its response to the immediate place that you are in with the people that you make that space with. She wanted to make sure that all of the participants would be PoC and that they didn’t have nationwide recognition or a following that other drag artists might have. Untitled really wanted to focus on people who were really doing something in their communities, like creating art in direct conversation with people in America, but then also not having had the chance to tell their stories. Untitled emphasizes that the show is by no means comprehensive or exhaustive, “There are so many different ways of gender and drag expression. This is why I say ‘drag artists,’ it’s because so many people only want to talk about drag queens and it’s so nauseating, so not wide, not a conversation. This is not just about drag queens, and the drag scene has never been just about them as much as we want to talk about them. The show is not exhaustive as in it doesn’t represent everybody, but it is a challenge for everyone, and myself, to expand what our community looks like, discover new artists, and uplift their work.”

Catch Untitled (America) on Untitled Queen’s Twitch account, at 5 PM EST on July 4, 2020. Half of the donations will be split between the performers, while the other half will be donated to the Navajo Water Project. Sidewalkkilla has collaborated with incredible illustrator Paco May, who was kind enough to contribute the beautiful illustrations of Untitled Queen, Cherub Borne, Ricky Rosé, Anya Knees, and Lynn Troller that accompany this article. All of the proceeds from the print sales of the drag artists’ illustrations will additionally benefit the Navajo Water Project. Please visit Paco May’s Etsy store and support the inidigenous grassroots organization and the incredible artists involved in the production of this show and the article (Untitled Queen and Paco May.)

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Alexey Kim

Founder

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EDITORIALS

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Exclusive Videos

HBO’s “We’re Here” Creators On Why It’s More Than Just A Show About Drag Queens

We’re Here

INTERVIEW WITH THE CREATORS

We’re Here Is Not Just A Show About Drag Queens

On June 26, 3 Dollar Bill hosted their Pride Facebook Live show, hosted by Lucia Fuchsia and Benjy Bradshaw. The two entertainers met pre-quarantine at a show and since then have been hosting online shows twice a week for the past four months. Their show, called Corona Queens, highlights drag performers who haven’t had access or a way to perform. Lucia and Benjy recently sat down with the creators of the new HBO series We’re Here, Johnnie Ingram and Stephen Warren, to talk about their journey of making the heartwarming reality series. The show follows Eureka O’Hara, Bob the Drag Queen, and Shangela around the country in small towns in middle America. During their time in each town, they have the pleasure of putting a handful of the town natives in drag.

Special thanks to Steven Thompson for the beautiful illustration. Visit his shop HERE.

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Activisim Bushwig Events Exclusive Pride

Bushwig Celebrates Pride & Rides In Solidarity With BLM

Bushwig Pride x BLM

PRIDE/ACTIVISM

The only acceptable way of celebrating Pride in 2020 is if you are doing it in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Bushwig drag festival organizers did just that on Friday, June 26. The event started off with a three-mile bike ride from Maria Hernandez Park in Bushwick and ended at McCarren Park in Williamsburg. In Buswhig’s style, attendees were encouraged to wear wigs. Drag performer Merrie Cherry led the horde of colorful bikers in a red convertible. A few hundred people ended up gathering on the lawns of McCarren Park, listening to the evening’s speakers, watching performances by The Dragon Sisters, Magenta, Jette Grey, C’etait BonTemps, and more. The donations provided during the event were to be split between the performers and a grassroots non-profit organization, G.L.I.T.S. (Gays and Lesbians Living In a Transgender Society), that houses homeless black trans people. Amongst the highlights of the evening was the event’s speaker and performer Jette Grey, a black trans sex worker, asking people to donate money to her Venmo account, so that she could help other trans people in need. In just a couple of hours she announced that she has collected over $7,000, with the donations going over $10K by the next day. The event finished off with a fiery speech by Samuel Nemir Olivares – a progressive Latinx, queer state committee candidate – and a dance party that was eventually ended by police intervention.

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Alexey Kim

Founder

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Wynwood Pride Day 3

Wynwood Pride

DAY 2

With Poppy, Khamasrina, Khasamartini, Chaplin Tyler, Iris Velvet,

Chiyna Sparks, Jilee Parker and more.

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Alexey Kim

Founder

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Wynwood Pride Day 2

Wynwood Pride

DAY 2

With Ivy Queen, MODA, Lady Paraiso, Aurora Whorealis, Vex The Thing, Queef Latina, Celia Booze, Petty Boop, Gami, Patent Pending, Adora and more.

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Alexey Kim

Founder

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Wynwood Pride Day 1

Wynwood Pride

DAY 1

With Pabllo Vittar, Aja, Carmen Carrera, Dorian Electra, Get Face, Karla Croqueta, Morphine Love, Miss Toto, Persephone Von Lips, Khasamarina, FKA Twink,

Sage, Kat Wilderness & more.

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Alexey Kim

Founder

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Events Exclusive Pride

Looking Back At Miami’s First Controversial Wynwood Pride

PRIDE

Looking Back At Miami’s First Controversial Wynwood Pride

sidewalkkilla

In 2019, Miami’s first Wynwood Pride split local talent into two opposing camps. In 2020, the festival is back in digital form.

In 2020 Miami-based Wynwood Pride came back for its second year, but this time, virtually. While local artists comprised the bulk of last year’s 3-day lineup, heavyweights such as Pabllo Vittar, Ivy Queen, and Poppy were each day’s respective headliners. The festival split the local talent into different camps: local drag artists Yoko Oso and Kunst called on people to boycott the festival organized by local for-profit company SWARM, criticizing them for using the Pride label for “what essentially is, a Gay Pop Music Festival,” while also enlisting AT&T as one of the event’s biggest sponsors – AT&T reportedly donated $2.7 million to 193 anti-gay politicians in 2017 and 2018.

Queef Latina, the organizer of South Florida’s biggest queer performance festival Wigwood, found herself caught in the middle. In one of her Instagram posts she called for peace:

“At times we get so caught up in the politics and drama that we forget that we should not be fighting fellow queers, but should be channelling those efforts to fight the real oppressors.”

Karla Croqueta

Karla Croqueta, another drag staple of Miami who doubled as an MC during the second day of the festival, said she was grateful that she was able to participate and pay her bills,

“You should care about it [representation of the LGBTQIA+ community], but be wise about how you represent it… I had 4 cameras and a drone floating in front of me, with two giant screens the size of buildings bigger than I’ve lived in, with my face planted on them, with my message about queer representation and trans representation being spewed out to 5,000 people that were in front of me. I just feel like, get on a bigger soap box.”

This year, on June 13, Wynwood collaborated with a nonprofit, PLUS1, to benefit The Bail Project, Impact Justice, Black Trans Femmes in the Arts, Contigo Fund, and Equal Justice Initiative, raising $18,796 in total.

Wynwood Pride is back this coming weekend (June 26 – 27) to their Twitch channel in hopes of raising more funds for the above mentioned organizations. This is a chance to get familiar with local superstars like Kat Wilderness, Morphine Love, Sensitive Black Hottie, Vex The Thing, Opal Am Rah, Mami Issues, Aeon Hues and FKA Twink. Big Freedia and Orville Peck are still listed as headliners, while Kali Uchis, and Sofi Tukker will be missed this time around. Check out the event’s set list here.

FULL COVERAGE

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Alexey Kim

Founder

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Activisim Editorial Events Latest

Queer Juneteenth Jubilee in Harlem

Juneteenth Jubilee

ACTIVISM

Harlem, NYC

“Juneteenth Jubilee” in Harlem was organized by Marti G Cummings, Jaime Cepera, Phillip Henry, Condola Rashad, Shakina, Destinee Rea and black led organizations The Blacksmiths, WideAwakes and Intersectional Voices Collective. The event’s goal was to celebrate Black Lives through Joy- a celebration in the form of protest.

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Alexey Kim

Founder

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Activisim Editorial Events Latest

15K People Show Up For Black Trans Lives At Brooklyn Liberation March

ACTIVISM

Brooklyn Liberation

An Action For Black Trans Lives

sidewalkkilla

Around 15K people wearing all white

showed up to Brooklyn Liberation March for Black Trans Lives.

Around 15,000 people wearing all white showed up for the Brooklyn Liberation Action in support of Black Trans Lives. Brooklyn-based drag artist West Dakota drew inspiration from the 1917 Silent Protest Parade organized by the NAACP that was held in response to an attack on the black community in East St. Louis. Fran Tirado, Eliel Cruz, Dix Peyton, Raquel Willis, and  organizations like G.L.I.T.S., The Okra Project, For The Gworls, Black Trans Femmes in the Arts, the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, and the Emergency Release Fund joined the movement.

Raquel Willis, Junior Mint and West Dakota

Ceyenne Doroshov

The rally’s hosts Junior Mintt and Joshua Obawole asked Black trans people to move up to the very front of the crowd. Heartfelt speeches by Ianne Fields Stewart, Ceyenne Doroshow, Raquel Willis, and the family of Layleen Polanco followed next. Doroshov, an author, activist, and the founder of G.L.I.T.S. (Gays and Lesbians Living in a Transgender Society) has been housing 5 Black trans people recently released from Rikers Island. During her passionate speech on top of the Brooklyn Museum, Doroshov broke down in tears, sharing that almost $1 million has been raised in order for her organization to be able to buy two buildings in NYC to house Black trans people: “We have always been last, that’s not gonna happen anymore. We’re first… We have never had equity in the city of New York. Motherfuckers, we do now.” By the time the Brooklyn Liberation March of over 15K people has reached its final destination at Fort Greene Park, Doroshov announced that someone had just contributed $9,000, pushing the donations to the $1 million goal. But the fundraiser doesn’t stop there. “Ceyenne has BIG plans, if we can keep the momentum going we’ll be able to impact the landscape of sustainable housing for Black trans people for decades to come,” states G.L.I.T.S.’ e-mail campaign. If you would like to donate, head over to the G.L.I.T.S. donation page.

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}

/* Responsive layout – makes a two column-layout instead of four columns */
@media screen and (max-width: 800px) {
.column2 {
-ms-flex: 50%;
flex: 50%;
max-width: 50%;
}
}

/* Responsive layout – makes the two columns stack on top of each other instead of next to each other */
@media screen and (max-width: 600px) {
.column2 {
-ms-flex: 100%;
flex: 100%;
max-width: 100%;
}
}

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Alexey Kim

Founder

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Categories
Unsorted

Brizy #64027

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