Portraits

Last week I watched myself on “American Ninja Warrior.” No, I wasn’t hanging from my fingertips on the Flying Shelf Grab or scaling the Warped Wall, but if you look closely in the background of the Philadelphia finals, you can see me in the distance wearing a white leather jacket hanging out with the talent coordinator, Angelou Deign. The Philadelphian, my old friend and all-around cool chick was kind enough to make me a VIP on set. Watching the amazing women on the show inspired me to seek out some of the tough gals in this town.

The Jordyn Show is a performer and promoter with “huge and unrealistic dreams and ambitions” that include becoming the greatest performer of all time and saving the world one piece at a time. In an effort to do both, The Jordyn Show has launched Queerspace, a monthly event that is designed to showcase and inspire amazing local queer performance of all kinds — drag, burlesque, poetry, stand-up, singing and visual arts — to bring a sense of community and charity to the Philly music and arts scene.

I have often spoken with people about representation, the need to see ourselves reflected in the media around us to affirm that we exist and that we’re not alone. As a film-festival programmer, I usually find that in the movies, but I’m happy to expand my cultural horizon this week to include the world of theater.

As a queer person of color, tattoo artist Jasmine Morrell started working in the world of ink at a young age and soon found that racism, homophobia and misogyny were the order of the day in many tattoo shops. Often the target of unwarranted comments and attacks, Morrell set out to create a respectful space that would make all of its patrons feel positive, supported and free — a safe space for people to express themselves however they felt comfortable. Thus, Spirited Tattooing Coalition was born.

“If every time you take one step forward you take two steps backwards, don’t be discouraged: You just learned how to country line dance.”

Nightclubs can be a little intimidating for some: the pressure to dance, shouting over the music to be heard, dreading rejection if you dare ask a stranger to join you on the floor and the fear of looking like Eileen on “Seinfeld” if you do get a yes. Fortunately, there is a night out that’s fun, free and footloose — a night where people of different ages and backgrounds have been gathering to get their boot-scooting boogie on for more than 20 years: the Friday night hoedown at Woody’s.

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