Entertainment

BREAKING: POSE Star Dominique Jackson to speak at UofL Pride Week

According to a Facebook post from the LGBT Center at University of Louisville, Dominique Jackson, Star of POSE & Author of The Transsexual from Tobago (Revised), will be the keynote speaker for the University of Louisville’s Pride Week.

This event is in partnership with the LGBT Center and Student Activities Board at UofL.

The event is Thursday, Oct. 3 at 7 p.m. at the UofL Activities Center.

Model, Actress, Author, Advocate and Activist Dominique Jackson was born on the smaller island of the twin island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

At the age of 15, she moved to the US to escape traumatic situations. Jackson graduated in the 10th percentile of her class at Owings Mills High School before going on to attend Fayetteville State University and Morgan State University.

Enduring intolerance, discrimination and prejudice, Jackson left school and moved to New York City, where she became a member of The Underground House/Ball Community, the NYC LGBT Entertainment Circle and The Pageantry System – winning six crowns/titles while competing locally and nationally.

A leader in her community, Jackson has been awarded several accolades and was also inducted into the House and Ballroom Hall of Fame and deemed Iconic on February 27, 2016 at the NYC Ball Awards. In 2017, Jackson received the Legacy of Pride Award presented by Harlem Pride and received the first Bronx LGBT Leadership Award presented by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz JR and Allies LGBT PRIDE CELEBRATION. That same year, she was honored with the New York State Assembly Citation issued by Mark Gjonaj.

A fashion model since 2000, Jackson began her career at Brooklyn Fashion Week before moving onto Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. In 2011, she served as Mistress of Ceremonies in Solomon Harris’ take on the ballroom scene Newark Is Burning at NJPAC (Newark, NJ). Jackson is one of the resident models to Adrian Alicea Couture, Manuel Pelferes Couture and Angel Ayala Couture. She added Gypsy Sport by Rio Uribe and Stevie Boi to her runway accomplishments during 2016 Fall/Winter Fashion Week.

In 2014, Jackson released her autobiographical memoir The Transsexual from Tobago (Revised). Later that year, she starred in Carla Pridgen’s Incongruence produced by Ivy Theatre. In 2016, she starred in Oxygen Network’s GLAAD Award winning reality docu-series Strut, executive produced by Whoopi Goldberg and Tom Leonardis, and the short film T Times by Gabriel Torres.

Jackson has served on the Community Health Program Board at the Montefiore South Bronx Healthcare Clinic for the last two years.

Entrepreneur seeks to establish Black, Queer sober spaces

by Arielle Clark, MBA (she/her/hers)

The Louisville LGBTQ+ scene is inundated with white, gay people and is steeped in alcohol culture.

 There, I said it. And did I stutter? Insert shrug emoji here.

Louisville is my home. I was born in a Louisville hospital, raised in a Louisville home, and attended Louisville schools (and have the student loan debt to prove it).

Louisville is where I had my first crush on a woman, realized what “not being straight” is, and came in to my blackness via reading and rereading Audre Lorde.

Louisville is where I have fallen in love, had my heart broken, and cut off 10 inches of my hair as a result of a bad breakup.

Louisville is where I have planted my roots, grown, been pruned, and have blossomed into whom I am today — an out, loud, proud, queer, black woman.

As I’ve loved and learned and grown in this city, I’ve started to look around and go, “Goddamn, where can I hang out with some black, queer folks that isn’t centered on alcohol in my own hometown?”

As I wander through Louisville, trying to find my space, I make an internal list in my head as I drive down street after street or scour Google for sober, black, queer spots for women.

So far, I have come up empty. While there may be informal spaces for us (perhaps Safai? Maybe Wild Dog Rose when it had a physical space? I’m drawing a blank), there are no designated spaces for me, for us, the black, queer women, the chocolate chips floating in seemingly-endless bowls of milk that seem like oceans to us.

My sisters and I meet informally in majority-white spaces, on high alert as we hear people use African-American Vernacular English effortlessly while simultaneously telling each other that “All Lives Matter” and “if black people just listened to the police and did what they said, there wouldn’t be any problems.”

We rant about how Tinder, Bumble, and Her are full of people with Ru Paul’s Drag Race as their favorite show in their profiles and “no blacks” a few lines down.

We empathize with one another as we talk about how the white people we’ve slept with have said shit out the side of their necks like, “I’ve never been with a black girl” or “you’re my African queen” and “I don’t see color.”

When we finally relax enough to enjoy each others’ company despite being constantly critiqued by the white gaze, a white man comes up and proclaims, “Yas, queen! You are slaying that whole look. I am shook.”

We sigh, pay our checks, and leave.

As an out, queer, black woman, I long for a sober space that caters to us. I long for a space where we can come together and commiserate.

Right now, we are floating so far apart, drowning in milk, barely able to see one another as our heads bob up and down in the waves of whiteness and alcohol.

We’re trying to stay afloat while simultaneously being hunted as fetishes as sharks taking chunks of our culture to use as their own.

At the age of 27 (going on 28), I’ve had enough.

I cannot wait any longer for a space to appear, so I am making secret moves to create one. If y’all need me, I’ll be hustling to finally make a headquarters for us — a home in our hometown, a bowl full of chocolate chips melting together.

Check back in a year or so. I’m determined to make this happen. I don’t want to be drowning in a bowl of milk anymore; I’m lactose intolerant as it is. And alcohol makes my head hurt.

Stay strong out there, black, queer women. Our space is coming soon.

Lesbian Heaven existed, and it was located in Germantown

By Sarah Gardiner, Nanny Goat Books

Photo by: Camilla Jasis-Wallace

The first time I walked into Purrswaytions was on New Years Eve 2015. 

I was supposed to be on my way to New York, but the flight was canceled and I was desperate for any sort of lesbian energy. Pulling out my phone, I googled the nearest queer bar, saw the word “dive” in the description, and knew I’d found my home for the night. 

Stepping over the threshold was like stepping into a different Louisville than the one where I grew up. This Louisville was loud and glittery and very, very full of lesbians. Femmes and dykes, studs and chapsticks, queer women of every kind milled around the bar. Even more people gathered around pool tables in a room off to the side, and I could hear the unmistakable thump of a dance floor in the back. 

Lesbian Heaven existed, and it was located in Germantown. 

Since that night, Purrswaytions has become something of a home base for me and my queer life in Louisville. Some of my best friends have been made over beers at the rainbow lit bar, and I’ve had the joy of getting to know the lovely owners, Matt and Tina, who care more about their community than any other bar owners I’ve ever met. Over the 7+ years they have owned Purr, they’ve truly created a family of regulars who support one another and take care of each other in times of need. If someone is sick or in need of a little help, they have time and time again hosted fundraisers and benefits to bring the community together and lend whatever support they could spare. 

I’ve traveled a lot, lived in major cities with queer scenes bigger than my younger, Kentucky-bred lesbian self could dream of. But none of these bars and none of these places have ever felt as welcoming as walking through the doors of Purrswaytions and being greeted on a first-name basis. 

There are awesome people everywhere, and Louisville is lucky enough to have an abundance of queer-owned and queer-friendly spaces, but to make a community into a family you need to have a home. Purrswaytions is an underrated home in the Louisville queer community. Give it a chance—hell, give it a few—you just never know who you’re going to meet at such a queer staple. And, in the mean time, you’ll have the chance to support your local lesbian bar and hang around some truly lovely people. 

Kentucky based band, GRLwood releases new music, “I Hate My Mom”

On Friday, June 28, GRLwood released “I Hate My Mom,” an angsty song about hating life as a teenager. Bandmates Karen Ledford and Rej Forester are natives of the Bluegrass and Queer Kentucky caught up with them today.

Q: Where are y’all you from?

A: Rae is from Louisville, and Karen is from Hardin County. 

Q: How has being in Kentucky influenced your music and persona?

A: We could say one million things as a response to this question. Kentucky has a very strong southern culture aspect to it, and it molds everything about how we communicate especially being queer in the Bible belt.  Our music is a direct reflection of our experiences growing up in this area, so I would say Kentucky influences everything for GRLwood.

Q: When and how did your band start? And has it been a struggle at all?

A: As a two-piece, we began in August 2017. Working with somebody as close as we work with each other has its ups and downs, however it has been a great pleasure creating together. We get along really well and make one hell of a team.

Q: How do you feel about performing at Kentuckiana Pride?

A: Performing at pride was very surreal. We feel very honored to be a part of such an incredible opportunity. That was the first pride either of us had seen people moshing, so we felt very well received and supported. We love queer Louisville.

Q: How are you furthering the Queer community?

A: This is a very complex question. Our music is a diary of growing up in Kentucky as queer persons and that gives platform for other people to relate and create discussion, which in turn creates community. 

Q:What is your favorite part about what you do?

A: Playing music with eachother and connecting with people in the crowd. But mostly being best friends and working together. 

Q: What does the word queer mean to you?

A: It is a safe all encompassing term which allows us our queer identities and maintains privacy. 

Q: What does the word feminist mean to you?

A: A person who believes in the equality of all people regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, class and disability. 

Q: What is the importance of Queer artists?

A: Representation really really really matters. People need to know they aren’t alone. 

Q: Who/what Influenced your work?

A: Our experience of growing up in this climate in Kentucky influences everything we do. Everything around us is constantly influencing us. Same for you. 

Q: What is your biggest goal as artists?

A: To be accessible to everyone. And to enjoy it.

Smedley Yeiser to host Pride Riot in Western Kentucky, honor OUT Paducah

PADUCAH – Many small rural communities are creating safe spaces and pride events for their communities. Western Kentucky activists with OUT Paducah are leading this movement and were asked to be the guest of honor for a large Pride event.

On June 29, Smedley Yeiser is hosting Pride Riot, a one night only pop-up venue to honor 50 years of pride since the Stonewall riots. OUT Paducah is the guest of honor for the event.

It’s also to celebrate where Paducah is now, where it’s been, and where it’s going with LGBTQ+ Pride, said Pride Riot event coordinator Jeremy Byassee. 

“With political, religious and moral debates, especially here in the Bible Belt, I don’t think there’s any other way to get fairness and equality without coming together despite those issues with diversity,” Byassee said. “I genuinely feel everyone is seeking support from one another with that common goal of tolerance and freedom.”

The mission of OUT Paducah is to provide an accepting environment to enhance the personal growth of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth in McCracken County. OUT Paducah advocates for community awareness and acceptance of young people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. 

Through outreach, OUT Paducah, service providers learn about and increase their sensitivity to the needs of sexual minority youth. OUT Paducah provides LGBTQ youth with positive role models. It promotes their self-esteem and the integration of these youth into the larger community. OUT Paducah assists families with resources and referrals.

The venue for Pride Riot, Smedley Yeiser+Juniper Room, is owned by very supportive and wonderful straight allies, Byassee said.

“There will be a stage set up with 12 various entertainers, plus me, your host,” he said.

There will be Pride Drag King and Queen of Southern Illinois, and the rest are all local queens, belly dancers, a few burlesque artists and a fire breathing act!

“My event, PRIDE RIOT, has had very little backlash,” Byassee said. “And it doesn’t faze me a bit. It’s beyond humbling for me to have an outweighing amount of support. When I was 21, I know things would have been a lot different if I could go to space to see or maybe even perform in a drag show”

After show party will include dancing and karaoke! The show cover is $10 and the entire event is for 21 and over.

Big Sandy LGBT+ Safe Zone to host Pride Picnic in Floyd County

PRESTONSBURG — The Big Sandy LGBT+ Safe Zone, Inc. is hosting a Pride Picnic on Monday, June 24th. The event will be held at the Dewey Dam Spillway at Shelter #4.  

Kyle May, president and founder of BSSZ, said the picnic came about because a community member suggested having a Pride Picnic so that the community could come together and have fun while getting to know the board members (leadership of the organization/those representing the area and community) and to network with one another.

“We know that socialization with other people who identify as LGBT+ or as an ally is important for people within the LGBT+ community, particularly those in rural communities, because of the strong feelings of loneliness and isolation experienced by people,” May said.

BSSZ will have balloons marking the shelter to help identify at which location we will be gathering.  

The picnic will begin around 6 p.m. and last until approximately 8 p.m.  BSSZ will be offering FREE pizza and other foods/nonalcoholic beverages.  

There will be games, activities, and plenty of time to socialize with each other.  The BSSZ Pride Picnic is a family-friendly event open to the general public, including, but not limited to, people who identify as LGBT+, friends and family of people who identify as LGBT+, and allies of the LGBT+ community.  

The Pride Picnic is important to have because it allows people in LGBT+ community to know that they are not alone, said May. It also emphasizes the fact that we belong in communities no matter where we live.

“I have noticed that LGBTQ+ acceptance has been evolving in Eastern Kentucky,” he said. “There are more LGBTQ+ resources making their way into the area and there are more people confidently and visibly supporting the LGBTQ+ community.”

Folks are more than welcome to bring sealed foods or supplies if you would like to contribute, however, it is not necessary.  For more information, please contact BSSZ at bigsandysafezone@gmail.com.

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