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Celebrating Canada's 2SLGBTQI+ Communities

Staying In Is The New Going Out  

Queer performers are creating spaces online to share their art, and support each other during the time of self-isolation due to the worldwide spread of COVID-19…
It has been a rough couple of weeks to put it lightly. Social distancing, and the self- quarantines have made it impossible to maintain a regular social life. Keeping the distance for the sake of public health has been a no-brainer decision for most of us who are just doing what we can in these uncertain times to protect both our communities, and ourselves. A lot of us have been working from home for the past few weeks to help flatten the curve. But the loss of a routine social life has been tough for those who regularly go out to queer spaces to socialize and support their communities.  If you are somebody who misses the vibrant dance scene of clubs, and drag performances, or you’re an introvert that hates putting pants on and going out, something is happening that is slowly changing the way we interact with each other, and socialize with our favourite performers, and it’s all happening online.
Drag queen have been going live on their Instagram pages, and using third party websites to host their performances to keep spirits high and maintain a sense of routine while we’re all stuck inside for the time being. They’re getting creative with backdrops, new costumes, and choreography. This is more than providing entertainment to everybody that’s feeling the quarantine blues. It can also be a source of income for performers that have lost regular pay from bars closing, and tours or events being cancelled. While a lot of performers go live for free, some choose to use websites where you can make an optional small donation towards the artist. Even Sunday drag brunches have moved to an online platform. Toronto’s Miss Moço, who usually performs her famous drag brunch every Sunday at The Gladstone Hotel, has transformed her apartment to continue hosting her brunch via Instagram’s live function. She even has a mural of a streetcar on her wall so she can do her iconic handstand against it mid-show.
Another event taking over the internet is Club Quarantine. It’s open nightly starting at 9 p.m. Toronto time and runs until midnight. The event is run on video chat, and meeting website Zoom, and features different DJ sets nightly, as well as other queer performers that you can access every evening at the Club Q Instagram page with a special code. Club Q has been gaining more traction daily and has quickly become the city’s hottest club. It was organized by Toronto performers Brad Allen, Casey MQ, Mingus New, and Andrés Sierra. Talking to Allen about the unexpected, and rapidly-growing following of Club Q, he explained that the club started as a group chat on Instagram between friends. Once somebody recommended the video conference website Zoom so they could talk face to face, Club Q was born. With less than 20 people logging on opening night on March 16 it has quickly grown to an online dance party with a capacity of 1000. “Every night it got bigger, and bigger. The follows started pouring in. Not one of us expected this, but we soon realized we had created something bigger than us” says Allen.
Maintaining a supportive, and inclusive environment for everybody is important to the organizers. The online club even has its own bouncers. Two people act as moderators each night and kick people out of the chat if someone decides to cause trouble. “We have been so lucky in that the people who are on have fostered this really supportive environment… our first priority is maintaining a safe space” says Allen.
Of course, experiencing music live is unparalleled, but what’s not to love about a dance party you don’t have to leave your house for? The drinks are free, the company is great, and there’s never a line to get in. The club is filled with good energy where anything goes, and the support is plentiful. It’s given people something to look forward to, and for a few hours each night they can forget about the reality of COVID, and just dance. The club, which started as just a meeting place for the friends to connect while they were stuck inside has grown so much over the past week that it has gained attention of major news outlets, and performers. Superstar Charli XCX even performed a DJ set on March 25. Allen explained that her team had reached out to Club Q when they had around 3000 followers to collaborate. “All artists have been ripped of their audiences because of this quarantine,” he says. Artists big and small have been using their personal social media platforms to perform private concerts and sets from their homes over the past few weeks. “All of us artists, whether famous or underground, are all kind of working together at the moment to connect with an audience and connect with each other”.
All of these artists, whether big or small have taken our favourite safe spaces and made them more accessible for us in a time when we need it the most. Because even though we have to stay in our houses, we don’t have to go through it alone. Watching these performances gives us back a sense of normalcy that we’ve been silently grieving for the past few weeks. We don’t know what will happen tomorrow, but we can continue to support each other, reach out to friends, family, and members of our community. While it’s easy to stay at home and tune into one of your favourite drag queens performing, or log onto Club Q and dance the night away, the continued support makes an impact on artists whether they’re local favourites, or world famous recording stars. Even when we can’t physically be together, it brings us all closer.

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