Administrative Analyst Economic Development Division, County of Humboldt
At the heart of my story in Humboldt is community.
I moved here from rural Utah to attend HSU, and shortly after moving here, I got invited to attend a drag show at Club Triangle. Like any queer club, there’s dancing, everyone’s dressed to the nines, and everyone’s having a good time. Yet in the midst of all of that, everyone who walks into Club T has this same really surreal moment. You’re surrounded by all of these glorious beasts, and you’re here for it—but then you take a step back, and all of a sudden you can see this room full of people who have had similar experiences as you, who have been fighting similar trials and tribulations as you. That’s’ when you get this immediate and deep sense of connection with everyone in that room. This deeper understanding that we understand each other, and that we are here tonight to celebrate us and celebrate our identity. It’s such a beautiful thing.
That first night I went, I got to see a performer Coyote Freepile. They come out, dressed and painted all in white. At first, their dancing is very robotic, but at a point where the song really swells, the performer slams his hand on his head, slides it down his face, and a rainbow of pain follows. As they takes off their jacket, the performer reveals these insults and slurs written in Sharpie—the full spectrum of hate that they had received throughout their journey as trans.
So then, six people from the audience come out, each with their own color of paint, and they start painting over the marks on the performer’s body. Through the course of the song, they become this rainbow of color, saying that in your community, we’re taking away that pain. We’re offering community healing from that trauma.
I was bawling. I went from all of this layered trauma and feeling not seen for so long to feeling seen and known and drawn into this community. That moment really shaped me in the coming years. Now, as a performer myself, I love being able to provide that moment of connection, of feeling seen, to other people as I’m up on stage. I’ve also really found that when I’m dressed in drag, people see that as non-threatening. If my friends and I go out for a drink after the show, people always approach me and want to talk. Those often end up being really beautiful connective conversations as well.
What I love most about living in Humboldt, and what keeps me here is our collective identity that is contingent on uplifting and supporting each other.