by Monica Robinson
Individuals from diverse backgrounds and viewpoints participated in programs centered around racial, social and environmental justice during the Campus and Community Dialogue on Race. The goal is to provide spaces for reflection, examination and dialogue to promote change.
“Brown, Bearded, and Beautiful” was the last presentation held by Production Manager and Show Host Jorge Luis, aka Val De Flores, of the Vibe Queer Bar on Friday, Oct. 27.
The discussion entailed the creation of an LGBTQIA+ supportive community environment through drag performances and open dialogue to promote education in a predominantly white and heteronormative Humboldt.
When Luis moved to Humboldt, it was the first time he felt a feeling of safety and belonging in a queer community.
Luis reflected upon his “machismo” upbringing near San Diego.
“You know, I’ve always been a weird kid, like, that’s why I didn’t play soccer,” Luis said. “Because I wanted to wear my mom’s heels.”
Luis’s mission is to provide a stage for people to reveal their talents, creating an environment where everyone feels significant and acknowledged. He explains how drag shows go beyond entertainment and are an opportunity to build connections in a safe space.
The joy Luis said he experiences when seeing the audience sing and dance during performances highlights the heartfelt solidarity within the drag culture in Humboldt County.
“I’m married, so it’s my way to let loose and not kill my husband,” Pearl Anderson said, an occasional attendee of the Vibe Queer Pop-Up Bar.
The shared passion for self-expression and acceptance creates a bond that surpasses societal boundaries.
“Drag is something that you put on to make yourself feel a little bit more competent each day,” said Luis. “Sometimes that means a wig, and sometimes it’s your dad’s cowboy hat, you know. It’s like, whatever you want to put on that day to kind of just give yourself that little push.”