“Would you like to sign this postcard to repeal HB2?”
This had become my go-to phrase on the Sunday night of Memorial Day weekend. Donning a sequined gold headband, I was party volunteering at two gay clubs on a night usually reserved for eating guacamole on my sofa.
But when duty calls, I have to answer, and that duty was helping to repeal House Bill 2 while sipping on a Fuzzy Navel. I know. I’m brave.
My girlfriend Lara and I were wearing matching outfits: White tank tops that said “Mrs.” even though we considered ourselves pre-engaged, red shorts and neon green sandals. I’d never felt stereotypically gayer or happier to be alive.
And since the clubs were so loud, I didn’t need to trot out my pat answers to people who signed the petitions and postcards I ask them to sign:
– Yes, people deserve to use the restroom based on their gender identity and expression.
– Yes, isn’t Pat McCrory the worst?
– No, Lara and I are not the same person even though we’re wearing the same sandals.
A photo posted by @lookitsjoanne on May 29, 2016 at 8:56pm PDT
First stop: Chasers, 3217 The Plaza, Charlotte
I’m embarrassed to say I’d never been to Chasers, and it was a pageant night to boot. That means drag queens were vying for the title of Miss Bat$h!# Entertainer of the Year. (You read that right.) Lara and I checked in backstage with Buff Faye, a drag queen with a big heart and even bigger hair. Air kisses ensued, then we moved to the bar.
Jessica Jewel Addams, a transgender woman who performs as a drag queen but was not competing that night, told the emcee to encourage the crowd to sign the postcards for equality, which we planned to send to state legislators. It made approaching bar-goers feel less like approaching a wild bear. Well, in this case, a daddy bear.
Second stop: Cathode, 1820 South Blvd, #106, Charlotte
A video posted by Cathode Azure (@cathodeazure) on Jun 1, 2016 at 12:00pm PDT
Being a club-hopping volunteer meant I could watch the Red Light Drag Show hosted by Bella Nichole Jade at midnight while working. I elbowed past 100 sweaty gay men to buy Lara a Fuzzy Navel. One man who had signed a postcard was staring at us.
“Are you trans?” he asked me, with a somewhat hazy expression. When I said no, he asked Lara. I’m not sure why he had to ask at all. That’s when I planted a kiss on Lara and he shouted, “YASSS. WE NEED MORE LOVE IN THE WORLD.”
It was now past midnight, and people were drunker and more open to signing away their name, address, and probably their firstborn if we had asked. They were electrified by the show in the background as well: The Queen of Plaza Midwood, drag queen BethAnn Phetamine, performed wearing a “Don’t Legislate Hate/I Stand Against HB2” tee and in her last number shot sparks off of her breastplate or to the tune of Lady Gaga’s “Heavy Metal Lover.”
A photo posted by @lookitsjoanne on Jun 1, 2016 at 1:08pm PDT
After we reached our quota, Lara and I swayed to techno music, each holding signed postcards. The signatures were important, yes, but after over two months of volunteering to repeal HB2, it was almost more powerful to hold each other under the purple and green strobe lights and to just be people.
Photo: Joanne Spataro