Following a weekend of food and drag performances, it’s safe to say the Rainbow Drag Brunch that was held at the Rainy Lake Square and online on Saturday, June 26 can be considered a resounding success.
The sold-out drag brunch event featured two different seatings and performances from a cadre of local artists who have brought drag to the area in a big way. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Queers and Allies program at Binesiwag Centre for Wellness (BCW), a program that focuses on creating safe spaces where gender identity can be explored, along with building capacity, life-skills and community, according to the Rainbow Drag Brunch website. The proceeds will help cover costs for things like supplies, meals, events and more for the group.
BCW program coordinator Bobby Hudon, one of the event’s organizers, said that the successful event left a huge mark on performers and audience members alike.
“I was seeing pure magic, altogether,” Hudon said.
“I was seeing safety and gender expression, I was seeing community involvement. I was very proud of those moments where education pieces were share with the community. I saw support and I saw so many firsts for so many people, I saw so much empowerment in these young performers who took to the stage for the first time. It was just magical all around.”
Hudon explained that of the performers during Saturday’s events, only two came to the stage with prior drag experience. The rest were brand-new to drag performance, and the list of performers didn’t just feature one type of person, which Hudon said makes the community even more special.
“That’s what I said to the audience, we now have a Fort Frances drag scene, and it’s beautiful because of its diversity,” Hudon explained.
“We have folx who are of the 2SLGBTQIAP+ community, but we also have allies, we have women taking the stage, we have folx expressing and presenting body positivity. We have folx really just sharing their creativity and individuality, it’s not being dominated by men and by experienced performers. It’s so diverse and it’s everyone.”
The drag brunch also helps to formalize Fort Frances’ very own drag community. Drag performances are not new to the area, but establishing local performers means that future events won’t have to rely on bringing in performers from surrounding communities like Thunder Bay or Winnipeg as heavily. Hudon explained that this is significant as makes the ideals of Pride much more obtainable in the area.
“We were discussing it over the weekend, and sometimes when other performers come in during Pride, it really separates Fort Frances from them and their cities,” Hudon said.
“It makes it feel like those performers came in and brought us Pride, when the truth is we have everything we need right here to create our own Pride. We have our own resilience.”
Not every event put on manages to sell out, so it’s even more spectacular when a first-time event manages to do so. Hudon said the reception to the first Rainbow Drag Brunch was, simply put, overwhelming, particularly considering the reach the event had.
“I certainly spent the rest of my Saturday crying from all of the joy and love that we all experienced that day,” he said.
“This was a show that was broadcast all the way from Winnipeg to Nova Scotia. We had people tuning in from all over the country.”
Going forward Hudon said the goal is to set the bar even higher than Saturday’s event managed to achieve, with reflection, planning and adjustments to help make subsequent events even more phenomenal. There’s also room to build up and support more artists, individuals who may have felt too shy to participate in the last drag brunch but who might feel more comfortable in the future to take part.
“We continue to empower, we continue to educate and get more people involved,” Hudon said.
“That’s the next step.”
Now that the event is over, Hudon extended his gratitude to everyone who was involved in helping to make the Rainbow Drag Brunch a success.
“I can’t express my gratitude enough,” Hudon said.
“To the performers, to the organizers, to the sponsors, and of course, most importantly to the community for all of the support they showed and all the involvement that was put into the event.”