Stonewall Youth held its annual drag show early this October at Capitol Theater. The show was titled “Sexy Teen Drama,” aiming to bring issues in the queer community to light in an entertaining manner.
Stonewall Youth is a non-profit organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual (LGBTQQIA) youth who are 21-years-old and younger.
Sexy Teen Drama was written as a series of television shows being watched by two actors as well as the entire audience. A major comedic element of the show was the character naming. With each being a description of the character such as “Secretly Gay Jock,” “Token Brown Person” and “Popular White Savior Girl,” the role of each person was exaggerated and satirized.
Through this use of character emphasis, the cast was able to address issues that consistently affect the queer community in an entertaining show. These issues included sex education, racism, patriarchy, body autonomy, oppression, consent and safety, among others.
Adult volunteer Eric Grizyberg acted in the final performance and worked this summer “presenting workshops about creating a shared language about drag and identity,” in addition to overseeing the production.
Youth member and South Puget Sound Community College student, Sophie Bennett Ponsford, contributed similarly in a collaborative script writing effort, insisting, prior to the show, that the more “theatrical elements” of the show will be improved from previous years.
In the show, Bennett Ponsford appeared as “Mopey Nice Guy,” and was immensely excited for the performance and very eager to present the finished product.
Argallon-Garcia played “Popular Asexual Girl” in the Drag Show and was equally excited because it was her first performance with Stonewall.
After the show, the cast explained that the brainstorming process used while creating the show involved open dialogue between cast members. Kate Ayers, the director of the show, helped not only to think of ideas, but to help develop the ideas the cast already had.
The main benefit of writing their own show was that each member had a chance to present exactly what they wanted to say to their audience. The specific question, “What do you want to say?” truly prompted the entire process.
Because the entire process was a collaborative effort, at times there were conflicting ideas. Stonewall, however, promotes standing up for your beliefs and the finished product turned out to be something everyone could be proud of, said Hal Schrieve, an SPSCC student that performed in the show to the audience during a question/ answer segment.
Each drag show has been unique, and a proper comparison between past performances and Sexy Teen Drama is impossible. However, cast members agree that having more time to write and rehearse this show was helpful. Samantha Angel, an SPSCC graduate, saw last year’s Stonewall Drag Show and, though definitely impressed, really enjoyed the seeming spontaneity of this year’s show.
According to Argallon-Garcia, the overall goal was to present the ideas of Stonewall Youth in a fun and intriguing way. SPSCC student, Kayla-Purdue Mosley said, “The show was absolutely brilliant! I liked how it was playful but also serious.”
In 1991, Stonewall Youth had its first community meeting dedicated to addressing the needs of LGBTQQIA youth in Olympia. Since that assembly, the idea of a mere weekly support group has evolved into a non-profit organization.
The Stonewall community is comprised of volunteers and a regular staff. Grizyberg is currently continuing work at Stonewall after a summer internship and three past years of involvement.
Grizyberg supports Stonewall because the organization “promotes the political issues in our community along with [providing] emotional support,” they said.
Bennett Ponsford supports the dedicated mission of the organization and said, “I love the sense of community it gives and the safe, supportive environment where I can feel at home and get help if I am having trouble.”
Weekly support group attendee, Lauryn Argallon-Garcia, agrees with Bennett Ponsford saying, “Everyone is very friendly and non-discriminatory.”
The extensive growth of the program is the effect of an overall goal to form a supportive community that provides opportunities for all youth. Though Stonewall continues to host weekly support groups, other events and programs have gradually accumulated, creating its current active agenda.
Bennett Ponsford said, along with weekly meetings, “we do a lot of nail-painting and fabulous drop-in hour activities.”
At Stonewall, over 90 percent of their annual budget is used for various projects. Regular events include Gay Camp and Stonewall Activism Summer School. The Speakers’ Bureau is another Stonewall program and involves an active LGBTQQIA youth role in the community. Members speak at local events and learn the skills necessary to facilitate workshops and inform the public of current LGBTQQIA issues.