After losing their home bar from the COVID-19 pandemic, East Texas drag queens find ways to still perform. Finding hospitality is all over the area.
LONGVIEW, Texas — On the very last day of 2019 Longview’s only gay bar, The Rainbow Members Club, closed their doors. Leaving employees like local drag queens to find a new place to express themselves.
“Rainbow Members Club was our home bar,” drag show director Blaise Radford said. “We performed there, let’s see probably a good five to six years before they closed down. At the end of the year they were gonna close our doors and it was very devastating for a lot of us.”
A bar, but so much more. It was home for a community that sometimes struggled to find acceptance.
“When I first came there, they were like a family,” drag queen Aqarius Mone’t Brooks said. “They opened their arms, they welcomed me when I first came in. It was like home and when it was shut down, it was like, what do we do now?”
Instead of shutting down, these queens took their show on the road. And it’s reflective of a changing East Texas.
“If you would have asked me 20 years ago that I’d be performing in a straight bar, I would have said you’re crazy,” drag queen Brittany Brooks said. “So it’s nice to see us being taken in with open arms.”
With a little southern hospitality and East Texas charm these queens plan to stay in the area, even without their home bar.
“I think East Texas is changing,” Radford said. “The straight community has really opened up their arms, and it’s changed a lot of people’s minds about who we are.”
They queens say home is where ye make it.
“Even though our home bar had shut down,” Brittany Brooks said. “I love the direction we’re in at this moment.”