June has come and gone, and with it, gay pride month, but the reverberations of the tragic mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, on June 12 — which took the lives of 49 and wounded 53, all from the Latin and LGBTQ communities — continue to move through the world. Tomorrow night, July 6, a very special fundraiser for the victims and survivors is taking place at Tracks nightclub to keep the conversation and healing moving and remind us that the events should not be easily forgotten.
The Pulse fundraiser was organized by headstrong drag dynamo — and one of our Freshest Faces of Drag for 2016 — Jessica L’Whor, who put a call out for the city’s best performers, drag and otherwise, to hit the stage and whip up scores of tips that will be donated directly to the cause. The answer that she got back was fantastically overwhelming. We asked L’Whor a few burning questions about the event.
Westword: What made you became active in getting this fundraiser together?
Jessica L’Whor: I was active and extremely persistent in getting this fundraiser together because I’ve felt heartbroken since hearing about the tragedy. I hated more that I felt like there was nothing I could contribute besides my thoughts and prayers for the families and victims of the incident. Although sending support through one’s thoughts and prayers is helpful in its own sense, I wanted to do more from a distance. This benefit is something that needed to happen in the Colorado community to show multiple levels of support for something much larger than ourselves. I wasn’t and never have been the one to wait for things to happen, and with the help of Erik Arredondo at Tracks, I’m excited to see it happen!
What are your personal feelings on the tragedy, and how do we, as a community, move forward from it all?
My feelings of the tragedy, for a while, were just numb, in the sense of processing the event, mixed with this extreme sadness that I felt take over my mind. I kept getting upset with myself and selfish for feeling sad and hurt, when this event wasn’t and still has nothing directly to do with me. I couldn’t and can’t stop processing how quick and too easy it was for someone to have so much hate to take the lives of so many people. I’m sick of reading posts, tweets, watching videos, reading article and more about excuses or alternative reasons as to why something so horrible like this could happen or how some people were even grateful and hopeful it will continue to happen.
The bottom line was that innocent people were taken, and what people need to realize is that it was innocent people of a marginalized community that have been fighting to not be scared and have safe spaces for years. This hate crime is being missed by so many for what it actually is. As a community, I personally feel that everyone (including myself) has gotten too comfortable with the amazing privileges we have been granted, and that we need to remember and be more aware of the fact that people will do anything and everything to make sure our deserved privileges are scared, taken or forced away. How do we move forward? With love. Without fear. With hope. With community. By standing up. By confronting the issue. By standing together. Creating change. Making history, and so many more powerful ways, can prove that in the darkest times, there will always be a stronger, growing light.
How many drag performers and other acts answered your call to perform and donate their time, energy and money to this cause?
I am so excited to have so much support from the community! There is such a diversity of talent that is going to be on the stage for this show, ranging from beginning performers to extremely experienced performers, legends in the community, a potential extra-surprise special guest, queens that are coming out of retirement, male performers and so much more! Some people you can look forward to seeing are Kiera Sexton, Bella Couture-LeCher, Yazmeen StaxXx, Jackie Summers, and so many more, with close to 35 efficient, timely, incredible and amazing acts!
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When this event is all said and done, how do you want this night to be remembered?
I want this night to be a reminder that we should never forget. How many times have tragedies happened and they are only remembered once a year? No. This (like many other events) needs to be remembered, cared about, and kept in our hearts and minds in everything we do as a community. I don’t want this to be the last benefit for Pulse, and I don’t want an event like this to be the only reason we as a community get together. As a community, we should be out supporting and being together anyway! Regardless of where you perform, how long you’ve performed, how you identify, what intersecting identities you have, where you work, etc., above all of that, we have one thing in common, and that is that we are all part, in some way or another, of the queen community in Colorado.
The benefit for the victims and families of Pulse will take place on Wednesday, July 6, at Tracks, 3500 Walnut Street. The event is 18+, with a $5 cover charge for 21+ and $10 for 18+. Doors are at 7:30 p.m., with the giant show starting at 8:30 p.m. Tracks will offer $3 Deep Eddy drinks until 9 p.m. All proceeds will be donated to a select charity involved with Pulse and the families of those lost and those who were wounded. For more information, visit the event’s page on Facebook.